The Arizona State softball team won’t have the joy of being the host as they were last season for postseason play. John and Ann Rhoads Softball Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama will be the home for the Sun Devils this time around.
With their first postseason game on Friday at 4:00 p.m. ET against the Lipscomb Bison, we take a look into the Sun Devils’ regional.
Three-seed Lipscomb Bison (41-13-1, won ASUN conference tournament)
The Lady Bison are one of the hottest teams in the country heading into postseason. They’ve won 13 straight and 20 of their last 21 contests before Friday’s meeting with the Sun Devils.
A lot of their winning has to do with the right arm of their ace, senior pitcher Mandy Jordan. Jordan holsters a sub-two era at 1.81 over 170-plus innings, it’s most likely ASU will see her in the circle. Lipscomb scores plenty of runs as well as they led the the conference in the category by nearly 50 runs. Led by junior second baseman Hannah Devault’s team leading 10 home runs and 20 doubles, the Lady Bison feed off of her power.
The 41 wins might need an asterisk next to them because Lipscomb has only played six games against Power Five teams. With a 1-5 record, the lone win in extra innings and being shut out in three of the losses, ASU might be an awakening for the Lady Bison.
One-seed Alabama Crimson Tide (52-7, first in the SEC (Eighth overall seed))
For ASU to make a Super Regional, the most likely path will involve two wins over Alabama, a tough task against a team that has lost seven times all season. The Crimson Tide were a debated topic after the selection show because many believed they deserved a higher seed. The committee’s argument against the SEC’s regular season title winner was their weaker non-conference schedule where they went undefeated.
Although, with wins over Arizona and a pair against other top-eight seeded Minnesota, the Crimson Tide might have felt differently than the committee. However, beating them twice isn’t unrealistic as both South Carolina and Kentucky took series off of Alabama.
The Crimson Tide get it ton on both sides. They don’t hit for average, but led the fearsome SEC in runs and home runs. Add in that two of the SEC First-Time pitchers wear crimson and white, only seven losses makes sense.
In the circle the innings were divided close to evenly between Sarah Cornell and SEC freshman of the year Montana Fouts. Fouts, who earns a lot of comparisons to the great Jennie Finch, Fouts has a 1.07 ERA and Cornell has a 2.17 ERA. In her 25 appearances, Fouts has allowed over two runs only twice, with both being three runs.
Junior designated player Bailey Hemphill leads the Tide with a .364 average and 22 home runs.
Four-seed Alabama State (24-23, won SWAC conference tournament)
The Hornets entered the SWAC tournament with the fourth best record, but got hot at the right time to earn the automatic qualifier through their conference tournament win.
They used a staff of three pitchers similar to the Sun Devils, with the primary pitching being right-handed junior Justine Jean. Alabama State hasn’t played much high level competition and Jean has an over-five ERA, that doesn’t mean she can’t pitch well. Jean held Mississippi State, a similar offense to ASU’s, to three runs in a 3-1 loss to the Bulldogs.
With an average offense, the Hornets get by with hitting for average. The downfall for them is their defense. Alabama State has given up 66 unearned runs after they committed 78 errors. For perspective, ASU has had 50 errors and 43 unearned runs.
All games of the Tuscaloosa Regional can be see on ESPN3.