Softball will face Missouri in first round of SEC tournament


Ashley Prange celebrates with her teammates after a home run against Missouri on April 1. Courtesy of UA Athletics.

Dean Harrell, Contributing Writer

The postseason for college softball is finally here as Alabama gears up for what is sure to be a very competitive conference tournament. Featuring eight teams ranked in the top 25, the Southeastern Conference will be a tough battle to get through in order for one deserving team to call themselves SEC Champions. 

The Crimson Tide has been battle tested all year long within the SEC. With a conference record of 14-10, Alabama comes into the tournament ranking fifth in the conference and fourteenth in the nation.  

Head coach Patrick Murphy’s squad will play its first game on Wednesday night against the Missouri Tigers, the program that knocked the Crimson Tide out of the tournament last year. The 13-seeded Tigers took a 3-1 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs for the tournament play-in game on Tuesday night. 

Previously this season, Alabama faced off against Missouri for a three-game road series in which the Crimson Tide won two of the three games. The first game was a shutout victory for pitcher Montana Fouts, but the second was a wild showdown that went scoreless until the ninth inning when Alabama put up four runs to close out the game. 

However, the last game of the three-game series raises some concerns for Alabama. While the Tigers did not score a single run in the first two games of the series, they scored a whopping 11 runs in game three as Missouri defeated the Crimson Tide 11-3 in only five innings. 

In this latest Alabama and Missouri match-up, the Crimson Tide hopes to redeem last year’s tournament run that ended prematurely in the first round. Alabama, a two seed and highly expected contender for the championship game, was shut out by Missouri, then a seven seed.  However, this is a new year for an experienced Crimson Tide squad who is eager to cap off a good regular season. 

Aside from last year, the Crimson Tide have fared well in the conference tournament. Under Murphy, Alabama boasts a 40-27 record in the tournament thus far, including six conference championships, the most recent in 2021. 

Led by Fouts, this Alabama squad can attack from both sides of the ball. Fouts’s consistently stellar pitching can give any team problems as she has tallied not one, but two perfect games this season. 

Aside from competitive pitching, the bats are certainly something to watch out for as well. With three batters batting over .300, including freshman Kenleigh Cahalan, senior Ally Shipman, and graduate Ashley Prange, the Crimson Tide do not have many problems reaching base. 

While Alabama is great at getting runners on base, the next step is to bring them back home. Luckily for the Crimson Tide, it has no shortage of talented hitters with runners in scoring position. Prange and junior Bailey Dowling lead the team with 40 RBIs each, proving how much of a consistent threat they are with runners on base. Prange also leads the team in home runs as well, with 13 on the year, giving the constant possibility of the long ball.  

Nevertheless, the matchup against the Tigers on Wednesday will certainly be one to tune in to. The winner of the game will move on to the quarterfinal round against the four-seeded Arkansas Razorbacks in their own stadium.  

Alabama’s game against Missouri will be televised on SEC Network on Wednesday, May 10, at 4 p.m. CT.