The Alabama softball team is off to a rough start this season, going 1-for-6 against ranked opponents and 12-7 overall.
Sophomore Skylar Wallace and junior KB Sides, however, are doing everything in their power to keep the offense moving forward.
The No. 2 and No. 3 hitters in the lineup have accounted for the bulk of the Alabama offense — 40 runs, 42 hits, nine doubles, 37 RBIs and 60 total bases.
Sides leads the team with a .429 average and Wallace is right behind at .389. At the Crimson Classic this past weekend Sides led UA with a .467 average (7-for-15) with six RBIs.
“When the bases are loaded I want to be the one with the bat in my hands,” Sides said. “I’m ready to go. I just want to be the one to get the RBI for our pitching staff and help them out.”
During one stretch the last two weeks Wallace reached base 13 straight times either by walk or base hit. At the Crimson Classic she had seven hits, including two doubles and a triple with seven runs.
“I think the key for me is to stay relaxed in the box and keep my mind simple and not do too much,” Wallace said. “The main thing I’ve changed is just don’t add pressure. The pressure is not there.”
Through the first 20 games last season Alabama was 20-0 and flexing its offensive and pitching prowess each game.
Through 19 games in 2020 the power isn’t quite there and the pitching, which had off the charts expectations in the preseason, hasn’t shown up.
As the Crimson Tide prepares for a game today with Alcorn State and SEC play this weekend with a home series against Arkansas, the pitching numbers look nowhere near what they did last season. The Crimson Tide was lights out in the first month of 2019, allowing just 29 earned runs with a team ERA of 1.59. That number jumped to 41 earned runs and a 2.95 team ERA.
Montana Fouts has thrown just three complete games in seven appearances with a 3-2 record and a 2.23 ERA, and freshman Lexi Kilfoyl is 4-4 with a 2.59 ERA with six complete games.
The lack of power for Alabama could be explained due to an influx of freshmen players into the lineup as well as the absence of shortstop Claire Jenkins (ACL) and a loss of big bats from last season (Merris Schroder and Caroline Hardy).
Alabama hit 22 home runs with 32 extra-base hits and 118 RBIs at this time last season and finished tied for third in school history for most homers in a season with 89. The Crimson Tide has just nine homers but does have 34 extra-base hits with 103 RBIs.
Another big number missing from the stat line is stolen bases. Without Elissa Brown, out with a broken hand for a few more weeks, Alabama has almost half the stolen base numbers (27) it had the first week of March last season (48). Brown accounted for 48 stolen bases last season.
Walk this way
Bailey Hemphill set a UA record for most home runs (26) and RBIs (84) in a season with one swing in the Women’s College World Series last year.
With the way teams are pitching to her this season Hemphill won’t come close to reaching those numbers this season.
Hemphill leads the SEC with 23 walks, several of them intentional. She is one shy of second all-time in UA history and 20 away from tying Haylie McCleney’s all-time school mark (199). The all-time SEC mark is 236.
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2