Alexis Osorio hasn’t given up a run – earned or otherwise – in 35 straight innings for the University of Alabama softball team.
The Crimson Tide’s junior ace from Riverside, Calif., has thrown the equivalent of five full games since last giving up a run. She went 4-0 last week to up her record to 13-1 and carries a 0.72 earned-run average. She picked up all three wins last weekend against Arkansas, starting the first and third games and winning out of the bullpen in relief in extra innings in the second game. She also notched a win over Loyola-Chicago in a midweek shutout.
The right-hander leads the NCAA in strikeouts with 161 in 65 2/3 innings of work this season. She struck out 39 batters, an average of 1.98 per inning, in her four appearances last week, allowing only three hits with five walks in 19 2/3 innings.
Osorio was essential in Alabama’s 3-0 start in league play with the sweep of Arkansas, which ran UA’s winning streak to 17 games. Alabama and Florida are the only teams to sweep on opening weekend, with the Gators taking two games from Missouri – the series finale, scheduled for Monday, was canceled due to weather.
Senior pitcher Sydney Littlejohn went 1-0 with a 1.47 ERA over 14 1/3 innings, striking out 21.
Ninth-ranked Alabama (24-2) will host a midweek doubleheader on Wednesday at Rhoads Stadium, with a 3:30 p.m. start vs. Winthrop followed by a 6 o’clock contest vs. Georgia Southern.
Alabama will resume SEC play this weekend at Mississippi State in a three-game series starting Friday.
UA coach Patrick Murphy is hopeful that left-hander Madi Moore, who missed last week after sustaining a concussion, will be available to pitch in the Wednesday doubleheader, although he had not received word on her getting final clearance by Sunday. He said the sophomore from Winfield will need to work her way back into pitching shape once she’s cleared to return.
Alabama tuning up for SEC play
There are only two midweek games left before the University of Alabama baseball team (9-6) begins conference play on Friday night against Missouri. That means time is winding down for the Crimson Tide to fine-tune the lineup before biting into the meat of its schedule.
Head coach Greg Goff is still looking for more consistency from a couple of positions to shore up the offense before the Tigers (13-1) arrive this weekend.
“The outfield, we’ve had some non-production out there in some of those spots,” Goff said. “We’re trying to figure that out. I think this week you might see a guy or two in the outfield that maybe you haven’t seen, just to see if we can try to offensively get where we want to get through. We’re definitely feeling our way through. We’re definitely not locked into nine guys at this point.”
Catchers Tanner DeVinny and Kyle Kaufman are batting .375 and .296, respectively. They’ve alternated time behind the plate, but could be candidates to play elsewhere to get both bats in the lineup.
Alabama’s two midweek opponents, Eastern Illinois and Samford, played each other this weekend. The Bulldogs (9-5) swept the Panthers (1-13) in three games in Birmingham this week, though all were competitive.
The rest of the offense has some smaller items to work on as well. Alabama ranks sixth in the SEC in batting average, but is tied for last with 42 total walks. Shortstop Chandler Avant was 7-17 over the weekend to raise his average to .403, but has an idea of what he’d like to see.
“As a team, we have to get more timely hitting, move runners over, get runners on, take our walks when we can and we’ll be fine,” Avant said.
Midweek baseball games moved up
Alabama baseball’s two midweek games this week are still scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, but will be played earlier. The Tuesday game against Eastern Illinois and the Wednesday game against Samford will both be played at 3 p.m. at Sewell-Thomas Stadium instead of 6. The change was made with inclement weather in the forecast for both days.
“You just have to stretch a little bit longer, that’s about it,” senior pitcher Nick Eicholtz said of the cold weather. “Baseball is such a mental game, more than physical. You have to get out there and get loose. Both teams have to play in the weather. It’s not like we’re playing in 15-degree weather. It’s a little bit chilly, but we’re able to do it.”
— Ben Jones
Tide closes out season 7-4
The No. 6 University of Alabama gymnastics team’s regular season is officially over. With four consecutive victories, it closed out with a 7-4 (4-3 SEC) record.
Looking back, the Crimson Tide’s season-highs consist of a 49.5 vault, a 49.4 uneven bars, a 49.6 balance beam and a 49.65 floor exercise. Three of those marks came out of the last two meets. All were split between home and away match-ups.
Overall, the highest score UA posted was a 197.825 at home against Florida. The lowest was a 195.325 at Arkansas.
As for individual scores, junior Nickie Guerrero holds the strongest vault with a 9.95. Senior Katie Bailey and junior Kiana Winston tie with a set of 9.925s on bars, but Winston steals the show with an additional 9.975 on beam, perfect 10 on floor and 39.7 all-around.
Fifteen of the 19 gymnasts have competed so far.
Mackenzie Brannan had been absent from Alabama’s lineup since the third meet of the season, as she was recovering from surgery that removed a bone chip in her ankle. The junior returned to her usual anchor spot on bars last Friday and earned a 9.775.
“The potential is there,” UA coach Dana Duckworth said. “Now she’s got that one under her belt.”
Although Winston didn’t compete all-around recently like she normally does, the goal is to return her on all four events at SECs. She did vault (9.9) and beam (9.975) against Iowa State.
“We are nursing a shoulder that is really needing to be nursed,” Duckworth said. “So we just have to be smart.”
— Terrin Waack
Lewis named SEC Newcomer of Year
Alabama women’s basketball spent the week waiting to see if it would make the Women’s National Invitation Tournament, but it didn’t take the week off.
Freshman Jordan Lewis became the first Alabama freshman to be named Southeastern Conference Newcomer of the Year since the creation of the award in 1997. Lewis was a key for Alabama all season, starting every game and averaging 9.7 points per contest. Entering the season, the Windermere, Florida, native was one of the most highly touted recruits Alabama coach Kristy Curry had ever signed.
Lewis also was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team after winning SEC Freshman of the Week five times.
Joining Lewis on the SEC All-Freshman Team was teammate Ashley Knight. Knight set the sing;e-season blocks record in just her first season at Alabama, finishing second in the conference in blocks per game.
The two first-year players, Lewis and Knight, were the only two Alabama representatives to receive conference awards. SEC Tournament champion South Carolina took home the most accolades in 2017.
Lewis and company will continue into postseason play this week in the WNIT.
— Drew Hill