No. 13 Georgia at No. 5 Alabama
Schedule: Saturday at 11 a.m.; Sunday at 6 p.m.; Monday at 6 p.m.
Where: Rhoads Stadium
Records: Alabama 39-4, 8-4 SEC; Georgia 30-11, 5-7 SEC
TV: ESPN2 (Saturday), SEC Network (Sunday, Monday)
Radio: 93.3 FM
The outfield wall at Rhoads Stadium is adorned with images of some of the best softball players in Alabama’s history.
About half the players on that wall will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend for Alabama’s series with Georgia.
The Crimson Tide is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the moment freshman Jazlyn Lunceford pinch-hit for All-American Brittany Rogers and belted a two-out grand slam in at the Women’s College World Series to carry Alabama past Arizona State.
Lunceford and Rogers will be at the Rhoads House this weekend to help celebrate that WCWS moment. Former All-American Haylie McCleney will be there. Three-time Alabama All-American Kayla Braud will be there, too.
Braud played for Alabama from 2010-13 and was a member of the Crimson Tide’s 2012 national championship team. Nowadays she’s a softball analyst for ESPN, and she’ll be in the broadcast booth for the Crimson Tide’s series with Georgia.
“I always think of Tuscaloosa as my second home,” Braud said. “Those were some of the best memories I ever had in my entire life. This weekend is extra-special, too, because I know the other alums are going to be back in town.”
Being back in Tuscaloosa with some of her former teammates will stir memories for Braud for sure. Winning the 2012 championship is a no-brainer.
But it’s the little things that stand out to Braud.
“Winning the national championship is one of those seminal moments you will always remember, but there are a lot of little moments, too,” she said. “I remember taking BP on the field at night when no one there with a couple of my teammates and putting on the music. It was a warm, spring evening in Tuscaloosa and I remember how happy I was at that moment in time. I’m so grateful to get an opportunity to go back.”
As far as what she expects to see on the field, Braud said the 2019 Alabama team has all the tools needed to earn a trip to the WCWS and make a run — power, defense and deep pitching staff. There is one intangible the Crimson Tide needs if it’s going to make that happen.
“They have the pieces. The key is to continue to get better and be willing to fight for it,” Braud said. “When we won the 2012 national championship you could argue that we weren’t the best team on the field but we fought the hardest.”
Alabama could have to fight and scrap this weekend against the Bulldogs. Injuries are mounting up for the Crimson Tide — outfielder KB Sides left Wednesday’s game with an arm injury; first baseman Kaylee Tow has been hampered by a shoulder injury; pitcher Montana Fouts has been out for a couple of weeks with what head coach Patrick Murphy said was “overuse,” and infielder Kyra Lockhart is out for the season with a knee injury.
Fouts does return to the circle this weekend.
“They have a lot of youth on the team. How does that young team handle adversity? That’s a big question mark. They hit a bit of a slump offensively at South Carolina. Do you carry that with you or do you use that as a propeller to get you to work harder and get better? That’s what we’ll see.”