canada africa partner reservation What you need to know heading into the SEC Tournament

What you need to know heading into the SEC Tournament

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Alabama softball’s seeding and opponent for the upcoming SEC Tournament have been set.

The Crimson Tide enters the SEC Tournament as a No. 9 seed and will play No. 8 seed LSU in the first round of the tournament on Wednesday at 10 a.m. CT on SEC Network.

Alabama enters the SEC Tournament after finishing below .500 in SEC play for the first time in program history. It dropped its final conference series at Auburn, winning one of three games against the Tigers. The Crimson Tide’s only win in the SEC series this season came in a sweep over Ole Miss in April.

Here are five things to know about Alabama softball heading into the SEC Tournament:

Alabama softball from the circle

As a whole, Alabama’s pitching staff ranks third in the conference in ERA (2.06). However, we saw an Alabama pitching staff allow seven runs against an Auburn team that ranks last in the conference in runs scored (188), hits (283) and RBIs (171).

So far this season, Kayla Beaver has become the No. 1 pitcher for the Crimson Tide, making 25 starts in 31 appearances and currently stands at 16-8 with three saves. Beaver has been dominant from the circle this season, but we’ve seen some shaky performances from her lately. Beaver has pitched 155⅓ innings and allowed 52 runs, 39 earned, on 116 hits with 156 strikeouts and 56 walks. She has a team-leading ERA of 1.76.

Jocelyn Briski has become the No. 2 pitcher for Alabama after suffering an injury earlier this season. Briski started two of Alabama’s three games against Auburn last weekend and has gone 7-4 after 70⅔ innings pitched. Briski has a 2.48 ERA and has allowed 31 runs, 25 of them earned, on 66 hits, striking out 58 and walking 22.

Pitching will be critical for Alabama to advance in the postseason, as will limiting walks, especially in the opening half. If there’s pitching from the Crimson Tide, it’s on; However, when Alabama wrestles from the circle, it tends to struggle as a whole.

Struggle in the run column

Alabama ranks 12th out of 13 in the SEC in runs scored (202), hits (305) and RBIs (193). The team has been shut out seven times this season, which is the most games Alabama has been held scoreless in a season since 2017, when it was shut out eight times.

Since the April 19-21 Arkansas series, Alabama has scored 11 points while allowing 24 in those nine games. However, this doesn’t mean the Crimson Tide have been without opportunities, but their comeback efforts tend to fall short and come too late in the game. They almost pulled off a comeback on Thursday night vs. Auburn and scored three times in the top of the seventh inning, but fell one run short of tying the game.

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Alabama shows it can outlast its opponents

Many Alabama games came down to pitchers’ duels, with one or two runs making the difference. Such was the case in Saturday’s 11-inning, 2-0 win over Auburn when Kenleigh Cahalan hit a two-run single. It was Alabama’s longest game played this season.

Alabama has played in just five overtime games this season, dropping all of them except Saturday’s win at Auburn. The 11-inning win came at a good time for Alabama heading into the postseason.

Alabama Battle Leaders

Kenleigh Cahalan started all 49 games for Alabama at shortstop this season. Cahalan, who has been at number one for the Crimson Tide lately, is hitting .291 to go with a team-high 44 hits. Jenna Johnson spent most of the season in the one or two spots in Alabama’s batting order, hitting .270 to go with 31 hits and 24 RBIs. Abby Duchscherer has a team-leading 30 RBIs but has been out of the lineup lately.

Kristen White also played this season, hitting an RBI single in the 1-0 win vs. Tennessee last weekend, snapping Alabama’s previous 27-inning scoreless streak. Overall, White is hitting .313 with 21 hits and two RBIs. As a team, Alabama is hitting .254, which ranks 11th in the SEC.

Missing from the line-up

Catcher Marlie Giles has not been in the lineup since March 30, when she was hit by a pitch vs. Kentucky. During the Auburn series, Giles appeared in all three games as a defensive replacement at catcher, but did not return to the batting order.

Prior to her injury, Giles was hitting .286 and made 24 starts in 31 games played. She has 16 hits and 10 RBIs. Riley Valentine has entered the lineup in Giles’ absence and is hitting .185 with 15 hits and 11 RBIs.