Category Archives: LSU

Softball suffers third-straight sweep in Baton Rouge

For the first time since early April of 2011, the Alabama softball team has gone through a three-game weekend in Southeastern Conference without recording a victory, losing all three to the LSU Tigers. Alabama lost on Friday and Sunday 4-3 then 2-1 on Saturday.

In the last five years, the Tide has lost all eight games it has played in Baton Rouge. This was Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy’s first trip to Baton Rouge since his decision to leave the Tide for the LSU head coaching job after the 2011 season and changing his mind a day later.

Alabama tallied eight hits in the Sunday loss and only scored three runs compared to LSU’s four runs on six hits.

Jackie Traina pitched two of the three games, throwing 11.2 innings and giving up 11 hits and eight runs, seven earned. Leslie Jury pitched the Saturday game, giving up six hits and two runs, both earned.

Alabama dropped the first game of the series in extra-innings as televised by ESPN2. Click here for more from that game.

Alabama softball goes for SEC West title over the weekend

I contributed a print story to The Anniston Star to preview the Crimson Tide softball team’s upcoming weekend series with the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. The Thursday night game will be televised on ESPN2.

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Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy has a distinct demeanor about him: fun-loving and funny when he is just around his players in the team lounge, but intimidatingly serious in practice and even more so in games.

His hijinks have both paved the way for a music video made by the team to go viral on the way to last season’s national championship and for a crowd of 4,002 and Saturday’s win over Mississippi State, a national attendance record for the sport, stand on their feet in a key moment.

There’s something about late April. He cracks. He is unable to keep himself from smiling when a serious situation is afoot.

Postseason softball.

“This is the time where it should be the most fun of the year for the student-athlete,” Murphy said. “They’re getting down to the nitty-gritty in academics, finals next week, and then they basically become a professional softball player. And that’s what they should want: at the end of the year, they get to focus on nothing but softball.”

With just six regular season games left, Murphy likes where his team is, actually on national championship pace.

“I told them the other day that we’re almost at the exact same spot that we were last year,” Murphy said. “I think we still have to eliminate a lot of walks, a lot of freebies, silly errors, just sloppy defense at times.”

The Tide bats are coming on with perfect timing, as Alabama has scored eight runs in five of its last six games, four of them being double-digit showings.

“I think this weekend when we run-ruled (Mississippi) State, everyone in the lineup had at least a hit or they walked once,” Murphy said. “That’s what we’re looking for. We don’t want one hole in the lineup where one person goes 0-4 and the person in front of her and behind her goes 2-3, because the offense stalls.

“I tried to relate it to them as the (football) team is driving down the field, they get to the 20, and AJ (McCarron) throws an interception. It stalls the offense, gives it right back to the other team.”

Coming with the higher stakes, hand-in-hand, is higher pressure. More weight on the shoulders of the players replacing six senior starters on last year’s team.

Of those six, three are freshmen: center fielder Haylie McCleney, right fielder Andrea Hawkins and first baseman Leona Lafaele, and another, catcher Molly Fichtner, is in her first season with the Tide after transferring.

“A lot of the upperclassmen, our seniors, are doing a good job,” Murphy said. “They’re kind of warning them what’s about to hit. It’s not going to be like, ‘Oh, we have another series coming up.’ No. It’s Regionals, Super Regionals, it’s the SEC Tournament. This is where it’s almost do-or-die time.”

One of those senior leaders, left fielder Kayla Braud, is going back to her experience being an underclassman in the postseason to lead her younger players through it in her final go-around.

She’s also not above stealing from those before her, either.

“Cassie Reilly-Boccia, when she was a senior, she said she wanted to give as much knowledge as she possibly could, and I look at it the same way,” Braud said. “I trust them to step in and do what they know they need to do, they’ve been playing softball all of their lives. At the same time, I want them to not make the same few mistakes that I did, so I’m going to be there to help them.”

Murphy added, “They just need to play like they have all year. It might be the SEC Tournament, it might be LSU-Alabama, but it’s still the same game. No need to press, no need to do anything different.”

No. 5 Alabama at No. 4 LSU, gymnastics meet information

Who: No. 5 Alabama (5-2-1, 4-2-1 SEC) vs. No. 4 LSU (9-3, 5-2 SEC)

Where: Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Radio: 90.7 WVUA-FM, Rich Robinson and Leesa Davis, starting at 7 p.m. (click here to listen online)

Television: Cox Sports Television (tape delayed)

Last Time Out: Alabama beat No. 6 UCLA at home 197.075-196.375, LSU beat No. 7 Georgia at home 197.050-196.825.

Previous Meeting: Alabama beat LSU in Coleman Coliseum 196.575-195.525 on Jan. 18. Alabama’s Kim Jacob won the all-around crown.

Noteworthy: LSU is 4-0 at home this season, all against teams that were ranked in the top 25 at the time of their visit to Baton Rouge: No. 22 N.C. State, No. 3 Florida, No. 7 Georgia and No. 20 Arkansas …. Jacob will be going for her sixth all-around title for the 2013 season …. Alabama will be wearing pink against LSU to support breast cancer awareness. Alabama is 2-0 in 2013, 19-0 all-time, in pink.

Alabama tops coaches poll, Auburn No. 23

The preseason estimation of the coaches in the USA Today poll is out and there were not many surprises at the top Alabama got 55 of the 59 first-place votes but only 77 more total points than No. 2 Ohio State.

Just a reminder: Nick Saban is a voter in the poll and he previously said he didn’t think Alabama should be voted the preseason No. 1. So, we might have an idea where one of the four Ohio State votes originated.

Overall, there are six SEC schools in the top 25 and five of Alabama’s opponents on the list.

Rank; Team (first-place votes); 2009 record; Points; Final 2009 rank
1. Alabama (55); 14-0; 1,469; 1
2. Ohio State (4); 11-2; 1,392; 5
3. Florida; 13-1; 1,245; 3
4. Texas; 13-1; 1,240; 2
5. Boise State; 14-0; 1,215; 4
6. Virginia Tech; 10-3; 1,052; 10
7. TCU; 12-1; 1,051; 6
8. Oklahoma; 8-5; 1,035; NR
9. Nebraska; 10-4; 1,001; 14
10. Iowa; 11-2; 952; 7
11. Oregon; 10-3; 940; 11
12. Wisconsin; 10-3; 778; 16
13. Miami (Fla.); 9-4; 728; 19
14. Penn State; 11-2; 508; 8
15. Pittsburgh; 10-3; 492; 15
16. LSU; 9-4; 476; 17
17. Georgia Tech; 11-3; 455; 13
18. North Carolina; 8-5; 445; NR
19. Arkansas; 8-5; 438; NR
20. Florida State; 7-6; 374; NR
21. Georgia; 8-5; 312; NR
22. Oregon State; 8-5; 263; NR
23. Auburn; 8-5; 260; NR
24t. Utah; 10-3; 169; 18
24t. West Virginia; 9-4; 169; 22

Others receiving votes

Cincinnati (12-1) 135; Houston (10-4) 76; Brigham Young (11-2) 66; Arizona (8-5) 65; Ole Miss(9-4) 48; Clemson (9-5) 44; Stanford (8-5) 41; Connecticut (8-5) 40; Notre Dame (6-6) 38; South Carolina (7-6) 38; Washington (5-7) 26; Missouri (8-5) 23; Navy (10-4) 12; Oklahoma State (9-4) 11; Boston College (8-5) 10; Michigan State (6-7) 10; Arizona State (4-8) 6; California (8-5) 6; Texas Tech (9-4) 5; South Florida (8-5) 4; Texas A&M (6-7) 3; Northwestern (8-5) 2; Temple (9-4) 2; Central Michigan (12-2) 1; Mississippi State (5-7) 1; Nevada (8-5) 1; Northern Illinois (7-6) 1; Southern Methodist (8-5) 1.

Bryant-Denny Stadium now fifth biggest

The home of Crimson Tide football is now ranked fifth among college football stadiums according to the new capacity released today by UA.

Bryant-Denny Stadium’s new capacity is officially 101,821 — up from 92,138 before the south end zone got the upper deck and luxury suites.

The complete rankings:

1. Michigan Stadium (Michigan) 109,901
2. Beaver Stadium (Penn State) 107,282
3. Neyland Stadium (Tennessee)102,455
4. Ohio Stadium (Ohio State) 102,329
5. Bryant-Denny Stadium (Alabama) 101,821
6. Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium (Texas) 100,119
7. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (USC) 93,607
8. Sanford Stadium (Georgia) 92,746
9. Tiger Stadium (LSU) 92,400
10. Rose Bowl (UCLA) 92,340


Here is the latest from outside the south end zone of Bryant-Denny Stadium. It looks like this feature is about to die since work is all but done.

BDS expansion, updated Aug. 4 2010

Finally! A new poll question

After allowing the last poll question to fester on the blog for well over a month, I present a new one with an added feature. Feel free to leave comments on this new one if the mood strikes you.

Enjoy, but play nice.

<div><a href=”http://www.micropoll.com/akira/mpview/648539-263528″>Click Here for Poll</a><a href=”http://www.questionpro.com” title=”online survey”>Online Survey</a><BR><a href=”http://www.surveyanalytics.com/conjoint” title=”Conjoint Analysis”>Conjoint Analysis</a><BR> | <a href=”http://www.micropoll.com” title=”Polls”>Polls</a><BR> | <a href=”http://www.contactpro.com” title=”email marketing”>Email Marketing</a><BR><BR> | <a href=”http://www.ideascale.com/” title=”crowdsourcing software”>Crowdsourcing Software</a><BR><a href=”http://www.micropoll.com/akira/MicroPoll?mode=html&amp;id=263528″>View MicroPoll</A></div>

JaMarcus Russell wears Tide gear?

He’s from Mobile, played at one of Alabama’s chief rivals, but JaMarcus Russell wasn’t wearing LSU purple and gold to a night of watching boxing.

According to the Associated Press, the former No. 1 pick by the Raiders wasn’t the most popular spectator at the WBA supermiddle weight title match between Andre Ward and Allan Green on Saturday night in Oakland.

Here’s the final two paragraphs of the AP account:

The fans in Oakland liked almost everything they saw in the fight, except for an appearance by former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell. The fans booed Russell as he walked to his seat in the eighth round, still upset over three failed years as Raiders quarterback that ended with his release last month.

Russell, wearing an Alabama Crimson Tide hat and jacket, was booed again loudly as he left the arena after the fight.

Have a nice Fathers Day. Enjoy the rest of the U.S. Open.

Live blog: LSU/Alabama SEC baseball championship

FINAL: LSU 4, Alabama 3

Jon Kelton struck out, Brett Whitaker grounded out to second and Andrew Miller struck out to end it.


More later.

Middle 10th: LSU leads 4-3 after Tyler Hanover’s RBI single to left scored Matt Gaudet. That followed a Josh Rutledge throwing error on what would have been the third out of the inning. 

End 10th: No clutch 2-out hit this time. Jake Smith left the game-winning run stranded at third with his pop out to right. Ross Wilson got to third on a walk, stolen base and a throwing error. Still 3-3 heading into 11th.

Middle 10th: Jake Smith turns a huge double play after allowing a lead off single. Micah Gibbs SAC bunt attempt turned into the DP that included a very close play at first. LSU was not happy with the call. Two walks and a looking strike out later, the game remains tied 3-3 with the top of the Alabama lineup coming to the plate.

End ninth: Cal Tinsley struck out swinging, as did Andrew Miller and Brock Bennett grounded out to second base. You know what that means: Bonus baseball. We’re going to extras with the SEC title on the line, tied 3-3. LSU fans are jacked up.

5:59 update: Play ball!

5:39 update: Tarp coming up again. Let’s hope we can play some baseball soon. A good chunk of the crowd took off after it went back on about an hour ago. Restart time: 6:05 p.m. (Central)

You’ve got to be kidding me:  Tarp is out. We are delayed by lightning again at 4:53 p.m.

Middle ninth: Andrew Miller makes catch falling into the wall for first out then another in shallow left before a Mason Katz single to left. Mikie Mahtook then grounded out to end the threat, 3-3 going to the bottom of the ninth.

End eighth: Jake Smith single to right scores Ross Wilson, ties game 3-3 before Jon Kelton pops out to left field.

Middle eighth: Ross Wilson’s leaping stab of Alex Edwards’s hard line drive saved at least a run and ended the threat with runners on first and second. Taylor Dugas up first next inning with 48-game streak of reaching base in jeopardy.

End seventh: LSU left fielder Mason Katz just made the play of the game so far. He dove to catch a sinking liner off the bat of Brock Bennett then doubled up Brandt Hendricks who was expecting the ball to drop in for a single. That’s huge for LSU, still leading 3-2 with two innings left and the top of the Tide lineup coming up in the eighth.

Bottom seventh: Andrew Miller’s single scores Jon Kelton to cut deficit to 3-2 with one out and another new pitcher coming in.

Middle seventh: With Jimmy Nelson pitching, the Tide retires the side in order. 3-1 LSU.

Middle sixth: The Tide avoids damage after a 1-out triple. Still no score after the delay. LSU up 3-1.

End fifth: Taylor Dugas’ long drive to center field was not deep enough in this big park. Leon Landry gloves the third out to keep LSU up 3-1. Jimmy Nelson warming up in Tide bullpen.

Middle fifth: One hit, no runs, one runner left on base. LSU still leads 3-1.

3:26 p.m. update: And … we’re back. Play ball, take II.

3:05 update: Wrong again. Tarp off. Announcement says game restarts in 20 minutes. $20 says that doesn’t happen, but we’ll see.

2:58 p.m. update: False alarm. Tarp is still down and the weights holding to down are coming back out.

2:51 p.m. update: The tarp is about to come off the field and the radar looks more positive. How this delay affects pitching will be interesting.

RAIN DELAY!!
It’s 2:05 and the tarp just came out. We are delayed. In a softball update, Alabama was just stunned by a 2-out, 2-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to get eliminated by Hawaii, 5-4 is the final.



End fourth: Ross Wilson’s single to center scored Josh Rutledge from second to cut the hole to 3-1 with no outs. But that was all the damage Alabama did as Wilson was left standing on first. Then the rains began and the crowd is seeking shelter.

Middle fourth: Hawley strikes out two, retires side in order. Still 3-0 LSU.

End third: Alabama goes down in order again to trail 3-0 entering the fourth. In softball, a 3-run homer put the Tide up 4-3 late in the super regional title game.

Middle third: Mikie Mahtook’s lead-off homer put LSU up 3-0. Taylor +Wolfe then exits after 2+ innings after hitting Tyler Hanover. Tucker Hawley replaces him on the mound to close out the inning.

End second: A 1-2-3 inning included two strike outs. For the first time this week, Alabama is not in control.

Middle second: Wolfe records first walk by Alabama pitchers this week and Matt Gaudet makes him pay for it with a 2-run double to put the Tide behind for the first time all week, 2-0 LSU. Leon Landry’s long at-bat and walk set up the shot to left with two outs.

End first: The Tide strands Ross Wilson at second with a Clay Jones ground out to third. Score remains 0-0 under still-sunny skies.

Middle first: Tide pitcher Taylor Wolfe puts two strikes on all three hitters, strikes out last two in 1-2-3 first. After a half inning, 0-0 with the Tide coming to the plate. LSU fans are running away with the spirit stick at this point.

Weather improves; let's play ball

Much to my surprise, the weather has cleared and we are about 15 minutes from first pitch in the SEC baseball championship game between Alabama and LSU.

It appears as if a few hundred more LSU fans traveled to Hoover over night to balance out the crowd a little more. Alabama fans, though, still outnumber those in purple and gold.

Stay here for all the between-innings updates I can manage.

SEC baseball championship weather report

In a word: Bad.

About 90 minutes before scheduled first pitch of the championship game between Alabama and LSU, and the downpour we just experienced in Hoover was biblical. A look at the radar shows a lot of green, some orange and red — not good for a game of outdoor baseball.

We saw a similar rain storm an hour or so after Saturday’s game ended. The tarp was nowhere in sight so the grounds crew had to scramble to cover the infield, but not before taking a good soaking. We’ll see if that has any impact today.

Stay tuned for updates.

UPDATED: More rain, more delays

10:20 a.m. UPDATE: Ole Miss and LSU will begin at 11 a.m. and all games will be seven innings today. That will be interesting to see how that helps teams who played Friday and have less bullpen support.

The first game of the SEC baseball tournament’s semifinal Saturday is already a half hour behind schedule, so we could be in for another marathon day. Look at the radar and weather forecast, and it looks even worse for what could be two or three or four games (depending on if winner’s bracket teams get victories in the first game).

This will give Florida a little more time to rest before meeting Alabama. The Gators didn’t finish off their win over Vanderbilt until a few minutes past midnight this morning, so I’m sure they are happy to see the tarp covering the Regions Park infield this morning.

The Alabama/Florida semifinal will start 30 minutes after conclusion of the LSU/Ole Miss game that was supposed to start at 9:30 a.m. Stay tuned.

In other SEC news, check out this New York Times story detailing potential NCAA troubles for Kentucky involving Birmingham product Eric Bledsoe

And now, the Bama Blog humorous video of the day and one of my personal favorites.

Storm clouds on horizon for favorites at SEC tournament

 Photo by me

Lower seeds have certainly ruled the opening day of the SEC baseball tournament.

Of the three games already in the books, no favorites have succeeded. Seventh-seeded Alabama’s 7-1 beating of Auburn was followed by sixth-seeded Ole Miss’ win over No. 3 South Carolina.

The defending national champs, but No. 8 seed LSU just knocked off regular-season champion Florida in a spirited Game 3. Those LSU fans love them some LSU.

It’s now up to Arkansas, the four-seed, to keep it from being a white wash in the night cap against No. 5 Vanderbilt.

On a side note, let me say I’m not happy with the speed with which today’s action has been played. I didn’t leave Regions Park before 2:45 a.m. after covering Alabama in the last game of Day 1 last year. Mad maybe isn’t the word. More like bitter.

UPDATE: Vanderbilt completes the underdog sweep, 2-0 in the nightcap.

Tide vs. Auburn in SEC baseball opener

The biggest crowd of next week’s SEC baseball tournament will likely come in its first game.

LSU’s loss to Mississippi State coupled with Alabama’s win over Tennessee gave the Tide the seventh seed and a date with Auburn at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Hoover.

Auburn has the No. 2 seed after winning the West Division. Read more about this Sunday.

And now, the Bama Blog’s pick for YouTube video of the day.

Tide baseball still breathing

One day into the three game series that will determine if Alabama makes the SEC baseball tournament, the respirator is still on.

The Crimson Tide’s 11-3 win over Tennessee is one-third of the sweep it will most likely need to grab that eighth and final spot. Kentucky lost 8-6 to Georgia, so now Alabama just needs an LSU loss Mississippi State in the next two days, coupled with that sweep of the Vols.

LSU survived a 14-13 series opener with the Bulldogs on Thursday to keep things interesting.

And now, a slight change to a daily feature. Instead of featuring only the great Kige Ramsey, the Bama Blog will now present a general YouTube video of the day. Some will be funny, others more interesting. Today, we start with funny. Enjoy.

Important weekend ahead for Tide sports

For a non-football weekend, this coming edition will be a busy one with a lot on the line for a host of Alabama sports. Here is a quick breakdown:

  • The Crimson Tide baseball team is fighting for a spot in the SEC tournament. As one of a four-team deadlock for that eighth spot, Alabama needs to sweep Tennessee this weekend to have a shot. LSU and Kentucky also need to lose at least one game this weekend to keep the Tide in contention. Two Alabama wins coupled with two losses apiece from LSU and Kentucky also gets Mitch Gaspard’s team to Hoover.
  • On the softball field, the No. 1 overall-seeded Tide hosts UAB, Lipscomb and Alcorn State in the Tuscaloosa Regional. Riding high after winning the SEC tournament a week ago, coach Patrick Murphy’s squad is pointed towards the young program’s first national title.
  • Speaking of NCAA championships, the Alabama women’s golf team is in the hunt. The Tide is second in the championship, trailing USC by seven strokes after the second round in Wilmington, N.C. Stay tuned for updates.
  • The men’s golf team is seeded fifth in the New Haven Regional that starts Thursday. It won the regional round a year ago with the core of that team back.