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March 19, 2013TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama softball team won the national championship last season, but it didn't beat Georgia State.
The Panthers beat the Crimson Tide 5-1 on April 17. The Crimson Tide went on to win 20 of its last 25 games to claim the national title, but the Georgia State loss at home still sticks out. UA went 34-4 at home, with the other losses to nationally ranked opponents Tennessee, LSU and Florida.
Georgia State returns today to play an Alabama team that is still trying to settle questions in the pitching circle and at other positions. The Crimson Tide is 11-1 at home so far in 2013, with the lone loss to Florida, but UA was shaky in sweeping three games at South Carolina last weekend and lost two of three at Tennessee the weekend before to open Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama is beginning a four-game home stand that will carry through the weekend, with Auburn visiting for a three-game series Friday through Sunday. The Crimson Tide will visit Houston and Texas A&M next week during spring break before playing 10 home games in a row in April.
Freshman Haylie McCleney leads Alabama in batting with a .489 average and has stolen 20 bases. Second baseman Kaila Hunt is hitting .430 with eight home runs. Freshman outfielder Andrea Hawkins is hitting .426 and senior left fielder Kayla Braud has a .419 average with 25 stolen bases.
Alabama remained No. 4 in the USA Today/NFCA coaches' poll this week and is ranked sixth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25.