Alabama softball stormed through the Tuscaloosa regional this past weekend. The Crimson Tide beat UT-Martin and South Alabama to advance to the super regional round of play against Michigan. The Tide and the Wolverines will play a three-game series on Thursday and Friday to decide one of the eight spots in the Women’s College World Series.
The Wolverines upset Louisville in their regional to move on. They bring a 42-15 record to Rhoads Stadium. They’re 12-5 in true away games and are riding a nine-game winning streak. Michigan will not be intimidated by the powerful Lady Tide.
Michigan has made its super regional run on the back of strong pitching. Haylie Wagner is the ace for the Wolverines. She has appeared in 48 games and has a record of 32-5. She has an ERA of 1.46, which ranks 22nd in the country.
The remainder of the staff has been dismal. Sara Driesenga, the main reliever, does not have a winning record. If the Crimson Tide is able to put pressure on Wagner and force her out of a game, the road to the Women’s College World Series is much easier.
The dependence on pitching is highlighted by the Wolverines lackluster offense. Michigan does not rank in the top 50 in any major offensive category. Ashley Lane leads the Wolverines with 11 home runs, but has a low batting average at .273. She will hit the ball into the next county, or won’t hit it at all.
Amanda Chidester leads the starters with a .357 batting average. She is second on the team with nine homeruns, but can also play small ball. Chidester leads the team in doubles and is second in hits.
What does Alabama need to do to beat the Wolverines? Just keep rolling. Alabama ace Jackie Traina is every bit as good as Haylie Wagner. Alabama’s hitters are what Michigan can wish to be. The Tide is 3rd in the country in home runs per game so the ladies can hit for power, but they are 11th in batting average so they can play small ball too. The first pitch live from Tuscaloosa will be at 7:00 CST.