The University of Alabama softball team is going on the road this week, but the destination is not far away.
The eighth-ranked Crimson Tide will play three games at Mississippi State, with the opener set for Friday night. The Bulldogs took one out of three last weekend from Texas A&M, a top-10 opponent.
“I think that opened everybody’s eyes,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “Everybody knows parity has hit us in the SEC in softball. Anybody can beat anybody at any time if you don’t show up.”
Alabama hopes to do more than show up. The Crimson Tide is off to a 3-0 start in league play.
“You’re going to another person’s house,” pitcher Sydney Littlejohn said. “Our whole thing is we want to defend our own turf, and it’s going to be the same thing with us going over to Mississippi State – they’re going to be trying to defend theirs.”
Second baseman Demi Turner wants to flip that philosophy.
“Whenever we go on the road, it’s basically defend our turf. For example, we’re going to Starkville this weekend so we’re going to say ‘defend our turf’ like it’s our turf. Take one game at a time, one inning at a time, and get after it,” she said.
Both teams rank high in the league in pitching: Mississippi State is second in team earned run average (1.07), while Alabama is fifth (1.19) and has two of the top five pitchers in the conference in ERA in Littlejohn (second at 0.48) and Alexis Osorio (fifth at 0.69), who leads the conference in strikeouts with 168.
Alabama has the edge in hitting, with MSU ranking 10th or lower in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs, RBIs and home runs. Alabama is sixth in the league in batting average (.326) and in the top five in on-base percentage, hits, home runs and walks.
No. 8 Alabama at Mississippi State
Where: Nusz Park in Starkville, Miss.
Schedule: Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 6 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
Records: Alabama 26-2, 3-0 SEC; Mississippi State 21-5, 1-2 SEC
Radio: 93.3 FM