SEC softball preview: Numbers to know, players to watch, stuff worth repeating _lowres

Associated Press/AL.com photo by VASHA HUNT -- Alabama pitcher Alexis Osorio

NUMBERS TO KNOW

9 — Number of SEC teams among the top 17 in the NFCA/USA Today Top 25 poll: No. 1 Florida, No. 3 Auburn, No. 4 LSU, No. 6 Alabama, No. 10 Georgia, No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 15 Missouri, No. 16 Tennessee, No. 17 Kentucky.

5 — Number of SEC teams who reached the eight-team 2015 Women’s College World Series: Florida, Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Tennessee.

6 — Number of SEC teams among the top 10 nationally in ERA: Florida (0.58, first), Auburn (0.96, second), LSU (0.97, third), Mississippi State (1.07, fourth), Texas A&M (1.58, eighth), Alabama (1.62, ninth).

4 — Number of SEC teams among the top 10 nationally in batting average: Auburn (.391, first), Georgia (.387, third), LSU (.374, seventh), Missouri (.374, eighth).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Tiffany Howard, OF, Auburn

In addition to being the conference’s leading hitter (.545), the senior hasn’t committed an error since 2014.

Aleshia Ocasio, P, Florida

Sporting a 0.36 ERA and 68 strikeouts through 58 innings, Ocasio (8-0) could be headed for another All-America selection.

Alex Hugo, INF, Georgia

Hugo may not blast 22 homers again this season, but she’s still productive on offense with 25 RBIs.

Alexis Osorio, P, Alabama

A sophomore with a dominating spin, the 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year has racked up an astounding 73 strikeouts over 48.1 innings.

Sami Fagan, INF/C, Missouri

Fagan is one of the league’s best power hitters (five home runs) and ranks fifth in the SEC with a .854 slugging percentage.

WORTH REPEATING

LSU coach Beth Torina: “Any time you play someone in the SEC, it’s a challenge. I can’t say there’s one SEC team that means more to us than another. They’re all tough, all good in their own right. They all bring something different to the table.”

Sophomore pitcher Carley Hoover: “Once you get into conference play, there are really no lulls in anyone’s lineup. It’s like a one-through-nine-punch. So you kind of always have to stay on your toes. You can’t ever really take an inning off.”

Sophomore outfielder Emily Griggs: “It’s tough. We always say the SEC Tournament is like a mini-World Series. Every weekend we fight just like it’s a war just two win two and hopefully three games. It’s a great conference, and the competition is even better.”

Junior third baseman/catcher Sahvanna Jaquish: “The SEC is one of the hardest conferences in the country, so every day is a grind. It’s not like you play Alabama and you take off a week and then play Florida. It’s back-to-back every week.”

Junior outfielder Bailey Landry: “It’s very hard. It’s like a World Series matchup every single weekend. Coming into it we’re excited and looking forward to playing a lot of very quality teams.”