By Stan J. Griffin: February 17, 2016
Photo by Stan J. Griffin
After playing its first five games of the 2016 season at the UCF Invitational in Orlando, Fla., Patrick Murphy's No. 5 Alabama softball team finally played its first in-state game Tuesday, battling the host UAB Blazers.
And those who attended were treated to a dazzling pitching display by all three Crimson Tide weapons in the circle.
That trio combined to throw the 26th no-hitter in program history, defeating UAB 7-0. Alabama improved to 5-1 with the victory.
Crimson Tide freshman Madi Moore (3-0) earned the win in the circle, throwing 4.1 hitless innings while junior Sydney Littlejohn and sophomore All-American Alexis Osorio combined with 2.2 hitless innings in relief. The Alabama offense backed up the stellar pitching effort with seven runs on seven hits, including the first career hit for freshman Merris Schroder. Kallie Case drove in two of the Tide’s seven runs while Sydney Booker scored twice.
UAB (1-5) had no answer to the Tide pitching staff, with JoJo Fallen as the Blazers’ only baserunner, drawing two walks. Starter Madison Hir (1-2) was one of four pitchers to see time in the game, taking the loss after 3.1 innings with three earned runs allowed.
By Stan J. Griffin: February 13, 2016
Thanks to a stunning display of poise and resiliency by Avery Johnson's Alabama basketball team Saturday in Gainesville, Fla., the Crimson Tide was able to keep one good streak going, while finally putting a halt to a couple of other streaks that were not quite so palatable.
Despite senior leaders Retin Obasohan and Arthur Edwards fouling out just seconds apart late in the second half against Mike White's Florida team, Alabama was able to hold on for a huge 61-55 victory over the Gators at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The Crimson Tide improved to 15-9 overall on the season and 6-6 in Southeastern Conference play as it extended its current win streak to four games. It also defeated Florida on its home court for the first time since 1995. Florida had also beaten Alabama 11 times in a row entering Saturday's contest.
The Gators fell to 16-9 overall and 7-5 in SEC play, as Alabama became the first conference team this season to defeat them at their home arena.
Led by the play of forward Michael Kessens, Alabama jumped to the early 8-2 advantage before the Gators scored six in a row to tie the contest at 8-8.
The game was back-and-forth after this, although both teams were relatively cold from the field.
Shannon Hale hit a trey to put the Tide up 13-10, but Florida, controlling the boards for the most part, scored four in a row to go up 14-13 at the 8:19 mark of the first half.
With Florida up 17-15, Obasohan hit a 3-point bomb to put the Tide up 18-17. Florida, though, used a 6-2 run after this to take a 23-20 lead at the 2:26 mark.
Enjoy your week, T-Town!
Crimson Tide gymnasts preparing for weekend meets against Auburn, West Virginia (via Crimson Magazine)08 Feb 2016
By Stan J. Griffin: February 8, 2016
Photo by Stan J. Griffin
For the No. 4 University of Alabama gymnastics team, the midseason point has arrived, with its first six meets now out of the way.
And although Dana Duckworth's team (3-3 overall, and 3-2 in Southeastern Conference competition) is a bit banged up, much like many other squads around the nation at this point, there are still five meets left before the Crimson Tide competes at the SEC Championship on March 19 at North Little Rock, Ark.
Two of those meets are set for this coming weekend, as Alabama will battle arch-rival Auburn on the Plains on Friday night, and then will turn around and square off against West Virginia at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday (3 p.m.).
Duckworth said Monday that she feels her squad is in fairly good shape for this juncture of the season.
"We are halfway there, and there are typical banged-up little things here and there and (athletic trainer) Monica Kirkpatrick is doing a phenomenal job and making sure we stay consistent with our treatments, our massages, our rehab and trying to get as much rest," she said. "Last week (the time spent on training leading up to this past Friday's meet against Kentucky) wasn't nearly as much as it should have been, and I think that's what really translated when I said (to the media) that we kind of competed how we practiced. That's why I'm not that upset because we're putting more time in this week, and by the design of our schedule, we kind of had to do that. We had to give them that downloading week to now build back up. We're pretty healthy, and we've got (senior) Carley (Sims) coming back (from an ankle procedure) and we've got some issues that we've got to keep going in the right direction. We still have to watch (junior Amanda) Jetter's ankle and we still have to watch (freshman) Ari (Guerra's) ankle and we have to watch (sophomore) Kiana (Winston's) hamstring and the list goes on and it gets scary, but it's all manageable."
Students at Tuscaloosa Academy have been incredibly busy with studies and extracurricular activities, and they’ve been excelling at both.
TA student Harper Blount was a state winner in the University of Alabama’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” high school essay contest, which seeks to commemorate the legacy of Harper Lee and her celebrated novel.
Congratulations are also in order to the Tuscaloosa Academy Knights’ Junior Varsity basketball team for winning the Alabama Independent School Association’s junior varsity boys’ basketball championship, and for going undefeated for the season.
Enjoy your week, T-Town!
By Stan J. Griffin: February 4, 2016
Although it will soon be a whole new, and possibly scary world for the 17 brand new members of the University of Alabama football Class of 2016, a class that was once again hailed as the nation's best on Wednesday, eight other members of Wednesday's talent-rich class already have a head start on life in Tuscaloosa and getting acclimated to the Crimson Tide system.
Alabama's big National Signing Day group included the signings of eight prospects who enrolled in January at UA, and, therefore, will be eligible to participate in spring practice early this semester.
Those include offensive lineman Charles Baldwin of Windsor, Connecticut, linebacker Christian Bell of Hoover, tight end Miller Forristall of Cartersville, Ga., quarterback Jalen Hurts of Channelview, Texas, linebacker Shawn Jennings of Dadeville, offensive lineman Chris Owens of Arlington, Texas, wide receiver T.J. Simmons of Pinson and offensive lineman Jonah Williams of Folsom, California.
One of those early enrollees, Bell, who played for Josh Niblett at the prep football powerhouse that is Hoover High School, actually committed to the Tide in April of 2014, but was requested by UA to grayshirt, meaning that he did not become part of Alabama's scholarship count until this year.
Grayshirts are not immediately permitted to enroll as full-time students or receive scholarship benefits or be a part of the program in any official capacity, including practices.
Bell said the grayshirt process ultimately became a positive experience for him.
"I learned a lot mentally, and physically on my body," he said. "I became mentally strong and I know I got a lot faster since last year. (Some members of the UA program) were telling me what I needed to work on and I had a trainer that I would go to in the morning and I was coaching a Little League team."
By Stan J. Griffin: February 1, 2016
Much like Avery Johnson with the University of Alabama basketball team, Ben Howland is in his first year of leading the Mississippi State hoops program, while also facing a similar rebuilding process that Johnson is encountering with the Crimson Tide.
Under Howland, a veteran coach whose impressive resume includes taking tradition-rich UCLA to back-to-back Final Fours in 2007 and 2008, the Bulldogs have struggled thus far to a 9-11 overall record, including a 2-6 mark in Southeastern Conference play that matches the Tide's conference record.
Those two rebuilding programs square off Tuesday night in Starkville as Johnson's Crimson Tide team (11-9 overall) will battle the Bulldogs in Humphrey Coliseum.
The game is set for an 8 p.m tip and will be televised by SEC Network.
Johnson, whose team is coming off a physical 78-64 loss at South Carolina on Saturday, a foul-plagued effort by his team which saw four of his players disqualified due to fouls, said Monday that he hopes his team is ready to rebound from the loss with another road challenge.
"Ready to get back on the court and we had a really good practice today and we get back on the road tomorrow," he said. "We're playing against a team that's pretty dangerous, and they've got a lot of guys that can handle the basketball with (freshman guard Quinndary) Witherspoon, (freshman guard Malik) Newman and (senior guard Craig) Sword. They can all handle the ball and make 3s, they can get inside your defense and they have a couple of big guys that can shoot the ball for three. So it puts your defense in a bind, and we've got to play well and sustain more of our effort for a longer period of time, handle some of the what I call down cycles of the game better as we continue to go through this maturation process. We're always excited to strap it up today in practice and then we'll be ready to play tomorrow."
Happy Spring Break, Tuscaloosa! As with each spring break, the calendar gets a little on the thin side. That doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do, though. Get outside, enjoy spending time with your kiddos, and above all else, have fun.
Enjoy your week, T-Town!
By Stan J. Griffin: November 18, 2015
After a long regular season, and then two rounds of the state high school football playoff following that weekly grind, the season is still alive for six schools in the Tuscaloosa/West Alabama area.
Also alive are dreams of possibly advancing to the Super Seven state title games at Tuscaloosa's Bryant-Denny Stadium, with those contest set to begin on Dec. 2.
First things first, however, and those title aspirations must be put on hold for now as most of the remaining area teams must be focused on taking care of business in quarterfinal play Friday night.
One team, however, that will actually be playing for a state title this Friday is Webb Tutt's Marengo Academy Longhorns.
The Longhorns, led by quarterback/running back Hayden Huckabee and defensive end/tight end Cason Cook among others, have rolled to a 10-1 record, and are now set to play for the AISA Class AA championship at Troy University in Tutt's first season as Longhorn coach.
No. 4 Marengo Academy, which ousted Pickens Academy last week 48-7 will go up against 12-0 Edgewood in a rematch of last season's title game, which Edgewood captured 55-25.