Tuscaloosa Regional Breakdown
One of four SEC teams to host the 16 regionals, which is a sign of how strong SEC softball was in 2012, the Alabama Crimson Tide sport the second seed in the tournament and the No. 3 ranking in the nation behind Pac-12 powers California and Arizona State. Alabama brings a 50-7 overall record, including a 29-4 home mark, into the Division I tournament, and it is one of two schools in the nation (California is the other) to sport 50 wins. The Crimson Tide’s softball lineup is the equivalent of a loaded New York Yankees squad in that 1-9 is constantly dangerous. From senior Amanda Locke (17 homers, 50 RBIs) and sophomore Kaila Hunt (18 HR, 57 RBIs) to junior Kayla Braud and senior Jennifer Fenton (35 stolen bases apiece), the Crimson Tide can get you with both speed and hitting. The pitching isn’t bad, either. Sophomore Jackie Traina is a fearsome presence thanks to 268 strikeouts, a 31-2 record and 1.78 earned run average. Alabama’s .318 batting average is the best in the Southeastern Conference, and it is 14th in the nation. Alabama isn’t a lock to win this regional, but it’s quite close.
Challengers include Atlantic Coast Conference power Georgia Tech (36-21), which has beaten Arizona, Oklahoma and Georgia among others. Senior Kelsi Weseman (12 homers, 30 RBIs) is the team’s top hitting threat, but Georgia Tech has less speed and power than Alabama does and isn’t considered a top challenger. South Alabama (39-15), from the Sun Belt Conference, isn’t a solid home run squad (0.72 per game, fifth in the Sun Belt) but its 1.88 earned run average is among the top 25 programs in the country. Junior Hannah Campbell sports a 19-10 record with 177 strikeouts and 24 complete games, but there aren’t many double-digit homer threats to watch. Tennessee-Martin (39-20), from the Ohio Valley Conference, excels at triples and double plays. A potential problem is the team’s batting average (.269), which is seventh in its own conference. If a team can’t dominate the Ohio Valley in hitting it might have problems on a national scale.