#36 UAB Softball 2014 Preview

UAB Blazers

Overall Rank: #36
Conference Rank: #1 C-USA
#36 UAB Softball 2014 Preview
UAB Team Page


Thanks to a reputation of being a hard team to beat at home, UAB (Alabama-Birmingham) finally got over a plateau it wanted to reach for years. The Blazers went 18-4 in home games last season on the way to a 40-win campaign, which marked the first time in the program’s history that took place. UAB founded its softball program in 2000 and previously reached 39 victories in 2002 and 2011. Away from Birmingham the team was not as lights-out as it had hoped, but it was still a good year in that the Blazers cracked uncharted territory and advanced to the Super Regional round of the NCAA tournament. The question now, as it always is for most clubs that play at such a high level, is what happens for an encore.

2013: 40-19, 19-4
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Marla Townsend

Field Players:
UAB has lost some of its hitting punch in the lineup with the exit of Anna Kimbrell, who belted 10 home runs despite a .220 batting average. It is fortunate the Blazers return their other legitimate home run threat, Kristen McGrath (.265-12-43), for her senior season. There have been some other graduation losses along the way, but Caitlin Attfield is back with her .359 batting average, 69 hits and 25 stolen bases. The good news about some of the missing players is they were lighter hitters, so their absence may not be felt as hard as losing a 20-homer hitter or a .400 slugger. Still, Whitney Fletcher and her .339 average will sorely be missed. Look for Kelly Britt, who hit .333 and played in 47 games as a reserve last season, to step into a bigger role with the team.

One pitcher is gone, and this could be a big problem on other teams, but the Blazers’ strength is pitching. Lauren Webster went 12-5 with a 1.69 earned run average, 24 walks and 166 strikeouts in her final season, but Lannah Campbell (14-6, 1.96) is back with her 180 strikeouts and Leigh Streetman (13-8, 2.26) also has triple-digit strikeouts on her resume. Campbell and Streetman’s returns will help bolster the pitching and keep UAB in contention as it shuffles through other problem spots in its lineup.  

Who to Watch:
You do not often think of Niagara Falls as a softball hotbed, especially with the cold temperatures and brisk weather conditions that extend into April, but Caitlin Attfield played her high school ball in the Niagara Falls area before making the trek from New York to UAB. This will only be Attfield’s sophomore season with the Blazers, and her first year was very strong for a freshman on an established program. Attfield earned C-USA First team honors as a freshman player, and with some of the exits off the squad the Blazers need to rely on Attfield’s bat even more.

Final Projection:
With early games against Baylor, Iowa, Georgia and Alabama, the Blazers will get a workout against tough competition before going into the C-USA portion of its schedule. UAB was 19-4 in league play last year and should be among the favorites in the league once again provided it can find ways to fill gaps in its hitting lineup. The pitching should help keep UAB in contention until that happens, but before the season starts there are many question marks that we won’t know about until the first games are played. It should be another strong season, but it may be more 30-35 wins instead of 40.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Caitlin Attfield, IF, 192
Hits: Caitlin Attfield, IF, 69
Home Runs: Kristen McGrath, IF, 12
RBIs: Kristen McGrath, IF, 43
Runs: Caitlin Attfield, IF, 38
Stolen Bases: Caitlin Attfield, IF, 25

Wins: Lannah Campbell, P, 14
Innings Pitched: Lannah Campbell, P, 167.2
Strikeouts: Lannah Campbell, P, 180
Saves: Lannah Campbell, P, 6


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