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The Tuscaloosa News

Has Alabama softball found its No. 2 pitcher? What to know going into SEC play

By Maxwell Donaldson, The Tuscaloosa News,

2023-03-15
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Alabama softball will start SEC play on Saturday when it hosts Arkansas at Rhoads Stadium after an up-and-down nonconference slate.

The first pitch is 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and is Ally Shipman's senior day. Sunday's game starts is 5 p.m. and Monday's game starts at 6 p.m., with all games on SEC Network.

The No. 13 Crimson Tide (20-6) wrapped up its nonconference slate with a 1-3 record at the Bevo Classic, the win coming over Texas. Montana Fouts has made 18 appearances with a 1.73 ERA and 141 strikeouts over 81 innings. The early highlights of her season were a perfect game versus Longwood and an 11-inning, 14-strikeout win over Texas.

Battle for No. 2 pitcher

Fouts is still Alabama's ace and could be on pace to have her best season for the Crimson Tide. The pitching rotation behind her has started to take shape but no one has separated themselves from the group. Lauren Esman has the second-most innings on the team and the second-lowest ERA (1.77). Jaala Torrence, who has already thrown a no-hitter this season, holds an ERA of 2.16.

Esman, a left-hander, gives the Crimson Tide a different look from the other three pitchers which will help as Fouts most likely bookends the weekend series.

KENLEIGH CAHALAN:How Alabama softball landed No. 1 recruit Kenleigh Cahalan and enrolled her early for 2023

BEVO CLASSIC:Unpacking the ups and downs of Alabama softball's Bevo Classic, split series versus Texas

They can beat anyone, and lose to anyone

It has been an up-and-down nonconference slate for Alabama. Alabama has wins over Florida State, Duke and Texas who are all ranked in the top 25 of the ESPN/USA Softball poll. They have close losses to No. 3 UCLA and No. 9 Texas as well. On the other side, Alabama has fallen to Texas State (RPI: 82), Lehigh (53) and Kennesaw State (199).

With matchups with teams on both ends of the SEC, it will be interesting to watch how they respond.

Top 3 of the lineup leads the way

The most common lineup combination had Kenleigh Cahalan, Ashley Prange and Ally Shipman as the first three batters, something that the stats back up. The group has three of the top four eligible batting averages on the team. The trio leads the team in RBIs and slugging percentage with Prange and Cahaln leading the team in runs and home runs.

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