Softball prepares for final big test of the season

Hayden Boudreaux

This weekend will be the final out-of-conference test for the Georgia Southern University softball team before heading into the SoCon tournament, followed by the NCAA Tournament.

The Eagles will face No. 1 University of Alabama on Friday. The Crimson Tide has bounced around in the Top 10 but has settled into their top spot over the past two weeks. This will be the third occasion the Eagles are taking on a No. 1 team on the road.

At the plate the Crimson Tide have their weapon, sophomore Hailey McClennly. With a .484 McClennly has the third-highest batting average in the nation. The rest of the squad can hold their own at the plate as well with seven batters over .300 average. Their attack as a whole averages nearly seven runs per contest.

Senior pitcher Jaclyn Traina holds up her end of the Alabama attack on the mound. Traina has earned herself a 1.60 ERA across 23 appearances this season. She has recorded 16 wins this season along with 130 strikeouts and three saves. An All-American last season, the Eagles’ bats will need to have an answer for this standout.

At bat, GSU has remained consistent all season. They will continue to look for senior shortstop Kourtny Thomas to bring in runs. This season Thomas has a .371 average. Her 42 RBIs and 13 home runs are more than the batters from Alabama.

All of the batters in the Eagle lineup are hitting over .200 this season. Head Coach Annie Smith will need these hitters to do more than just get on base to have a successful weekend.

If anyone has the potential to slow down the batting attacks this weekend it is Eagle senior pitcher Sarah Purvis. Purvis has compiled a 1.64 ERA and 16 wins of her own. She has had an impressive season already with 200 strikeouts, two no hitters and a perfect game. Her signature rise ball will work to keep both opponents’ batters guessing.

With only seven games left in the regular season the Eagles are on their way to a successful offseason. They lead their conference by three games and have a solid opportunity to take the Southern Conference Tournament. This will be their final out-of-conference stretch and possibly their toughest competition until the NCAA Tournament.

Both teams will be on the road, meeting in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Eagle contest against No. 1 Alabama be on Friday at 3:30 p.m.