Sides’ hot start at plate leads ‘Bama

Junior 1st on team in average, RBIs

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TUSCALOOSA — KB Sides’ performance for the No. 9 Alabama Crimson Tide at the plate during Sunday’s 4-0 over McNeese State was symbolic of the offensive contribution she has made to start her junior season.

Against the Cowgirls, the former Sumiton Christian star went 2 for 3 with a run scored, a double and an RBI to close the annual Easton Crimson Classic at Rhoads Stadium. On the weekend, she totaled seven hits on 15 at-bats, scoring six runs with six RBIs.

Sides said the performance of the Crimson Tide on Sunday after a pair of one-run losses to No. 4 Arizona on Friday and Saturday showed poise for a team balancing veteran and freshman players.

“I think we saw a lot of maturity today after losing a heartbreaker against Arizona on Friday and Saturday. We have a lot of room to improve, but I think we saw glimpses of how good we can be,” Sides said. “We’re all ready to start SEC play, which will be a second season for us.”

Nineteen games into the season, Sides is leading the Crimson Tide in hitting with a .429 average and has a team-high 19 RBIs — ranking her in the Top 15 in both categories among all SEC players. She has four doubles and a triple on the year.

February brought plenty of adversity on and off the field for Alabama as the team dealt with injuries to key starters, illness and shifts in the depth chart in response to the absences. Coupled with grueling schedule that included games with national powerhouse programs such as Florida State, UCLA, Washington and Oklahoma State, the opening month of the season proved to be an up-hill battle.

“Not a lot of people see all the difficulties we’ve faced to begin the season. I told coach (Patrick) Murphy things that are easy often aren’t worth it — the more of a challenge that we face brings a greater reward,” Sides said. “I think it’s pivotal for us to take each one of these challenges and face them head-on. In May when these difficulties have been answered and are behind us, people will be surprised about how good this team really is.”

After a midweek game against Alcorn State today, Alabama opens SEC play this weekend against the No. 20 Arkansas Razorbacks at Rhoads Stadium.