Alabama softball faces familiar foe in Tuscaloosa Super RegionalBy Ben Boynton | 05/27/2016 11:22am
Freshman right-hander Alexis Osorio allowed one hit and struck out nine in No. 6 Alabama's 9-0 win over Washington on May 16, 2015. UA Athletics
When the No. 6 Alabama Crimson Tide takes the field Friday night at 8 p.m. in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional to kick off a best of three series, for a chance to stay alive in the postseason.
To get back to Oklahoma City, the Crimson Tide faces a familiar foe in the No. 11 Washington Huskies.
The Crimson Tide defeated the Huskies 9-0 in the second round of the regional and 11-1 in the regional final last season to advance to the Super Regional and later the College World Series. This time, it face the Huskies one round later, and neither team has forgotten last season’s game.
“We ended here last year, so we have some emotions coming back, but we’re confident,” Washington shortstop Ali Aguilar said.
The Crimson Tide is also motivated to win and return to Oklahoma City for the third straight year.
“It’s a rarity to have somebody two years in a row, and I’m sure it will be a very, very competitive Super Regional,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said.
Washington is led offensively by Aguilar, who is tied for fourth in the country with 21 home runs this season. The Huskies as a team, own the seventh best batting average in the country with a .342 average, and average 7.62 runs per game, fifth best in the nation.
“They’re a really good offensive team,” Alabama senior center fielder Haylie McCleney said. “[They have] a lot of power numbers, especially at the top of the order. I think it’ll be a good challenge for us, and we’re excited.”
The Crimson Tide will try to counter the Huskies offense with its two top pitchers. Junior Sydney Littlejohn has 22 wins on the season, and was 2nd Team All-SEC this season. Her sophomore counterpart, Alexis Osorio, had 214 strikeouts this season. In addition, Osorio went 2-0 with a save in 16.2 shutout innings in the Regionals. Osorio also tossed 28 strikeouts, and has now gone 19 innings without giving up a run.
Additionally, The Crimson Tide also has freshman Madi Moore to call upon, and Murphy is confident in all three of his pitchers.
“Everybody should be really fresh, and all three will be ready at any time, just like always,” Murphy said. “We’ll talk about it probably to see who gives us the best shot to beat them.”
In both of last year’s victories against the Huskies, Osorio was on the mound. She pitched 12 innings combined, giving up just one run and three hits.
The Crimson Tide is coming off of two wins against California and a win against Samford. This past weekend also featured the return of sophomore second baseman Demi Turner to the Alabama lineup. Turner suffered an arm injury on March 12 against LSU, and had not seen action since. Turner batted .500 on the weekend, collecting three hits on six at-bats. Turner’s return to the diamond may be limited moving forward, as Murphy said that Turner seemed to experience discomfort with her gloved hand during fielding practice.
“She’ll definitely hit, I don’t know [if she will play] defensively,” Murphy said.
The series will not be the only matchup between the two programs in the near future. Murphy and Washington coach Heather Tarr confirmed that the two teams would begin a home and home series. The Crimson Tide will host Washington again next season in Tuscaloosa before traveling to Washington for a series in 2018.
For now, both teams are focused on the series in front of them. The best-of-three series starts at 8 p.m. Friday night at Rhoads Stadium. Game two will be Saturday at 4:30, and the third game will be after that if necessary.