These are the teams Alabama softball must face before its first SEC series

If practice makes perfect, Alabama will have many opportunities to hone its game ahead of the trip to Auburn.

Robert Cortez, Staff Reporter

No. 3 Alabama softball (14-0) is set to host final games in Rhoads Stadium before it travels to Auburn for its first conference series against the Tigers. The Crimson Tide is scheduled to host Mississippi State on Wednesday, in a non-conference game and will welcome Kent State, Northern Iowa and South Alabama for the Easton T-Town Showdown this weekend. 

The Alabama pitching staff is coming off a dominant weekend in the circle. In the five games of the Easton Crimson Classic, the team threw three shutouts, allowed four earned runs, tallied 47 strikeouts, allotted four walks and finished the weekend with a .80 ERA. In the young season, the pitching staff has the most strikeouts, 116, fewest walks, 10, and held opponents to the lowest batting average, .126, in the conference. 

Murphy said the pitchers have a “greedy” mentality, and, up to this part of the season, it’s paid off.

“I think that mentality is really good right now for our pitching staff.” Murphy said. 

Sophomore Lexi Kilfoyl (6-0; .18 ERA) led the pitching staff this past week, throwing a no-hitter against North Carolina for the first time in her career. Kilfoyl is currently up to 18 consecutive scoreless innings, which dates back to her appearance against No. 11 LSU. Kilfoyl has the fourth-best ERA and has held opponents to the fourth-lowest batting average, .107, in the conference. Murphy believes last year’s seventh-inning struggles have allowed her to become a better pitcher this season. 

“Those expenses last year have really helped her [Kilfoyl],” Murphy said. “She’s really done a good job of shutting somebody down, and not giving them anything.”

Freshman Bailey Dowling hit a team-tying best three home runs and 15 RBIs. Heading into the Easton Crimson Classic, Dowling had a .345 batting average, but has dropped to .282 after going hitless in her last four games. Dowling said one must have a strong mental state in order to be successful in the game. 

“It’s all just a mental game and you just have to overcome it any way that you can,” Dowling said.

Mississippi State

The Bulldogs’ offense is composed of six batters with a batting average over .300 and is highlighted by graduate student Fa Leilua, .412, and senior Mia Davidson, .325. Leilua and Davidson are tied for the team lead in home runs with five. 

Junior Montana Fouts (6-0, 1.47 ERA) looks to be the probable start for Alabama as she will have had one more day of rest than Kilfoyl. Fouts allowed three home runs this season, but she countered that with a team-leading 61 strikeouts, which is ranked second most in the conference behind No. 25 Tennessee’s Ashley Rogers, 76. 

“We have to pitch well. We have to play great defense. We can’t give them extra outs,” Murphy said. 

Senior Emily Williams (0-0; 3.44 ERA) is a probable starter for the Bulldogs. She looked to be the ace coming into the season and has given up no runs in her last two appearances, a total of 5.2 innings, against No. 8 Texas and Baylor. In the past, Williams struggled with giving up walks, so it’ll be important for the Alabama offense to be patient. 

T-Town Showdown: Kent State, Northern Iowa and South Alabama

South Alabama is the only team of the three with a record above .500, 7-5. As long as Alabama’s pitching continues to perform the way it has thus far, the Crimson Tide should be able to sweep the Easton T-Town Showdown. 

First pitch between Alabama and Mississippi State is set for 6 p.m. and will air on SEC Network plus, which is on the Watch ESPN app.