Alabama Softball: What’s wrong with the Crimson Tide?

Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

On Sunday afternoon, in College Station, Alabama Softball produced a 4-2 win to avoid a series sweep by the Texas A&M Aggies. Going into Friday night’s game, there was some optimism the nationally ranked, No. 2 Crimson Tide, would take three on the Aggies. With a Tide sweep and a loss or two by Arkansas in Gainesville, the chance of an SEC Regular-Season Championship would have been alive.

Instead, the Razorbacks swept the Florida Gators and now own a commanding three-game lead over the Tide in the SEC loss column. Mathematically, the Tide could still win the title, by sweeping Missouri while Arkansas loses four of its final six SEC games. With three more SEC losses, the Hogs would have a tiebreaker advantage over the Crimson Tide.

Realistically, the Tide’s final three SEC games are about holding on to the No. 2 seed in the SEC Tournament.

Alabama Softball has a loyal and passionate cadre of fans. More than a few of them are quite concerned about how the Tide will do in post-season play.

What concerns Alabama softball fans

  • The strength of Patrick Murphy’s team has been its pitching. Tide fans are alarmed that strength has weakened. Montana Fouts is an outstanding pitcher, but Tide fans are worried without a go-to offspeed pitch, SEC hitters have learned what to expect from Fouts. Over the last three seasons, her ERA  has gone from 1.39 to 1.61 and is now 2.21.
  • When the Tide pitching is good but not great, Murphy’s batters are not always able to make up the slack. In conference play, there are 43 SEC hitters batting .333 or better. Arkansas has five of them and all five are hitting.361 or better. Four of the Razorbacks are hitting from .398 to .462. The Kentucky Wildcats have four hitters among the 43. The Georgia Bulldogs have seven. The Crimson Tide has three, ranging from .333 to .375.
  • In the Texas A&M series, the Tide left many runners stranded. Against the Aggies, the Tide was 3-for-25 with runners in scoring position. Some Alabama fans believe Patrick Murphy does not green-light his hitters enough and when a pitcher is struggling, even the Tide’s best hitters are pressing too hard.

Alabama has a very good softball team. The Tide can have a strong postseason. But fans are worrying the Tide might not be a National Championship contender.

Note: The SEC batting averages discussed above include only hitters with 85 or more at-bats.

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The worries of Tide fans might be overblown. That happens when a No. 2 team struggles to not get swept and is also run-ruled by a team that went into the weekend at 3-12 in SEC play