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

Tough schedule awaits defending national champions

After winning it all, The University of Alabama softball team will face opponents determined to squash their chances of another No. 1 finish.

Preseason polls rank the Tide No. 1 in the nation, but the team has a tough schedule this season.

“Everybody that plays us is going to play their best,” senior Kayla Braud said. “Everyone is going to want to beat us. That’s just what we get with being Alabama softball.”

With seven Southeastern Conference schools in the USA Today preseason top 25, the Tide will have to battle their way through the conference before entering postseason play. The team will play a combined 13 games against Louisiana State University, the University of Tennessee, the University of Florida, Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri, five of the seven SEC schools on USA Today’s list. Georgia, a team the Tide will not face during the regular season, is No. 9 on the list.

The Tide faces nonconference teams until March 6, when the team takes on its first SEC opponent, the University of Florida, at home.

Head coach Patrick Murphy said the schedule is created well before the season starts, and playing a hard schedule is done by design.

“Schedules are made about 18 months in advance in softball,” Murphy said. “You just try to pick the toughest schedule possible.”

(See also “Softball team to be televised 7 times this year”)

The team is focused on bettering its abilities before the season gets underway to manage the intensity of its schedule. Braud said the Tide is working on being the best team it can be, not worrying with the ranking of its opponents.

“We play a nameless, faceless opponent, and we always prepare for the best team,” Braud said. “We’re going to prepare and be the best Alabama softball team we can be every day.”

The Tide coaching staff is training the team at a level that is harder than what players may see in games. Senior Jackey Branham said the coaches accelerate the pace of practice so it is faster and tougher than games to prepare the players.

Both Branham and Braud said teams will play their best games against the Tide because of its national championship win last year.

“We’re used to having a target on our backs, so we’re just taking it one game at a time,” Branham said.

Braud said it is also important that the team has no sense of entitlement because of its win last season. She said none of her teammates are feeling laid back or complacent. The senior has high expectations for her team and its attitude towards this season.

“I’m looking for our team to go out with a hunger and a new-found desire to win again,” Braud said.

The team is preparing for its first games in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where the Tide will take on five schools in the UNI Dome Tournament. Branham said the players are focused on these games first. The Tide will begin preparing for later opponents as those games draw closer.

Leading in today’s Crimson White:

Fashion show offers students valuable experience

Evangeline’s treats fine dining like family dinner

Under Potter, Tide ready to defend national title

More to Discover