Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

From strength to strategy: Alabama softball’s mental and physical evolution for in-season triumphs 

CW/ Hannah Grace Mayfield
Alabama softball players huddle up during the game against Chipola College.

In Alabama softball, victory is not just won on the field during the season. As players transition from the intense grind of the season to the offseason, the focus often shifts from competition to recovery and preparation for the upcoming season.  

It is cultivated in the offseason trenches, where players hone their mental toughness and physical ability, laying the groundwork for victory when the stakes are highest.  

As the 2024 season commences, Alabama gears up for a different kind of showdown — one that takes place off the diamond.  

Mental health: Strengthening the mind 

In the quietness of the offseason, Alabama softball started its journey for players to reflect on the past season, identifying strengths, weaknesses and areas of improvement. Reflecting on past victories and defeats, they strategize for the battles yet to come. But it is not just about physical health and preparation; mental resilience is the name of the game. 

Taking the time to rest and recharge mentally is crucial for preventing burnout and maintaining motivation for the upcoming season. Even the strongest players need help and should not be afraid to seek it. Whether it is confiding in coaches or reaching out to professionals, they understand that a strong mind is the ultimate asset on the game field.  

One thing head coach Patrick Murphy makes sure his players know is to take advantage of the resources their program allows for them, and one is sports psychologist Dr. Bhrett McCabe.  

“Each athlete has an opportunity to meet individually with him and we encourage all the newbies, for sure, to see him in the fall,” Murphy said.  

McCabe works with all The University of Alabama’s athletic department and talks with players as well as the coaching staff. As a sports psychologist, he helps competitors break from their patterns of struggle and create winning opportunities on the field.  

“It’s just been really really cool to see, when Bhrett came the other day, all 22 just bought in immediately and his message was awesome,” Murphy said.  

Murphy said he wants all his players to seek mental preparation, to equip the challenges on and off the field. 

“No. 1, take advantage of his expertise. … Go see him. And then also we’re really lucky at Alabama if anybody wants to see a non-sports counselor, that is also free,” Murphy said. “So, we have done, I think, a really really good job of mental health and keeping everybody safe.” 

Physical health: Building the foundation 

While Alabama softball has not been in the regular season since the Women’s College World Series in July, its grind did not come to a halt. The offseason is where the athletes and their coaches aim to put their bodies into top shape for high performance.  

“I think pretty good,” Murphy said on the physical health status of the team. “Kristen [White] had a little minor surgery, so were hoping she’s going to be okay.”  

After the teams’ two losses in the World Series last year, Alabama spent its offseason making sure its weaknesses become its strengths. The Crimson Tide’s offseason is not what it sounds like; it is just another way for athletes to enhance their performance and gear up for the new season.  

“We worked so hard this past fall, and we were underdogs a little bit, so it’s good to come up and show them that we got this,” freshman Lauren Johnson said. 

Senior Bailey Dowling said the team is ready for the season because of the work they put into the offseason.  

“Excited for this year and just how hardworking this team is,” Dowling said.  

In a sport like softball, where every person on the team plays a role, leadership plays a key role in the health of a successful program like Alabama. Leadership within a team is not merely about being in charge on the field; it is about fostering an environment where every teammate feels supported, motivated and valued.  

Murphy highlighted Jenna Johnson, a four-year starter within the softball program, as the epitome of emerging leadership on the team.  

“She’s just been a great leader,” Murphy said. “One of the best outfield student coaches that we have.” 

In physical and mental health, effective leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping the team’s well-being. A strong leader sets the tone for prioritizing both physical and mental health, encouraging teammates to listen to their bodies, take necessary rest, and seek support when needed.  

Dowling, reflecting on the upcoming season, expressed her eagerness to embrace her leadership role within the team.  

“Just being able to take a role of being a leader by example in that way,” Dowling said. “But definitely just excited to see what this team has and lead them by example.” 

Alabama returns to the field where it will host its first home game series in the Bama Bash, and the Crimson Tide will play St. Thomas, Virginia and Southern Indiana starting Friday.  

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