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Razorbacks open with Alabama

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorbacks open with Alabama

AFTERNOON UPDATE: Weather has pushed back the start of games two and three at the SEC Tournament. Arkansas-Alabama is game four, and not expected to start before late tonight; potentially rescheduled to Friday AM. Please check back later this evening for updates.

FAYETTEVILLE — For the second straight year, the Arkansas softball team will participate in the postseason conference tournament. Arkansas enters the 2010 Southeastern Conference Tournament as the No. 8 seed after finishing 10-18 in conference play.

Arkansas will play the final game on Thursday’s opening day of the tournament. The Razorbacks will take on No. 1 seed Alabama in the nightcap at Bogle Park. The game will be broadcast on ESPNU with play-by-play provided by Beth Mowins with analysts Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith.

This will be the first appearance in the SEC Tournament for Arkansas under head coach Mike Larabee. In seven previous appearances, the Razorbacks hold a 9-12 record in tournament play. Prior to the 2006 season, the SEC Tournament was double elimination.

The back-to-back appearances in the tournament for the Razorbacks are the first for the program since it qualified for the tournament in 2001 and 2002.

Arkansas and Alabama also faced off in the opening round of last season’s SEC Tournament. This is the fifth time the Crimson Tide and the Razorbacks will play in the conference tournament.

The first-round match up between the two teams is a rematch of the April 24-25 series played earlier this season in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide, then the No. 5 team in the country, came away with a three-game sweep. The Razorbacks now trail the all-time series, 41-7, with Alabama winning the last 25 meetings.

Arkansas and Alabama have met four previous times in SEC Tournament play. The Razorbacks won the first of those contest with a 3-2 victory in the 1999 event. That season, Arkansas advanced to the championship game and finished as runner-up to LSU. Alabama won the other three meetings, a 2-0 victory in 2001, a 2-1 triumph in 2002 and an 8-0 win in 2009.

Charlotte Morgan, the 2010 SEC Player of the Year, is hitting .346 with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs to lead the Crimson Tide at the plate. Along with Morgan, seven Alabama players are batting above .300. SEC Co-Freshman of the Year Kayla Braud has the highest batting average on the team with a .494 clip, including a .500 mark against SEC opponents.

In the circle, SEC Pitcher of the Year Kelsie Dunne leads Alabama with a 24-4 record and a 2.02 ERA. In 166-2/3 innings, Dunne has struck out 278 hitters and held opponents to a .183 batting average. As a dual threat, Morgan carries a 7-2 mark and a 3.42 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 86.0 innings. Lauren Sewell is 9-1 with a 2.33 ERA in 23 appearances.

Arkansas’ game with Alabama will also be broadcast on KXUA Fayetteville (88.3 FM) and ArkansasRazorbacks.com, which will also carry live stats.

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Sports Category : Softball