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

Softball seniors aiming for perfect bookend

Softball seniors aiming for perfect bookend

That night, Hays wore a white “A” on a crimson jersey, and the caption for the photo was simple: plot twist.

Before she came to Alabama, Hays committed to play at Auburn. In the fall of 2011, she found a place at Alabama along with four other incoming freshmen in what they’ve dubbed a misfit class. In 2012 after their first season, they found a place in a dog pile after Alabama beat Oklahoma for the national title, the program’s and 
conference’s first ever.

“I definitely think of how blessed I am to be in the situation I’m in now because 10 months before I won a national championship, I didn’t even know if I was going to be able to play college softball,” she said.

Hays, Chaunsey Bell, Leslie Jury, Danielle Richard and Jadyn Spencer come from four different states. Bell committed to Indiana her freshman year of 
high school.

“We’re not the class that has the All-Americans, the standouts,” Bell said. “We’ve always said we’re kind of the misfit class. We’re kind of just all put together.”

The five have worked their way into starting roles from pinch runners, hitters and defensive replacements.

They’ve come back from injuries and waited years to get their chance to play.

“The adversity that we have had to go through and the fight has just only made us stronger,” Bell said. “We’ve had to work hard for every little thing that has been given to us. It’s just been such a pleasure with the four other seniors and just I think the fight of not being that class that everyone’s heard of or that underdog mentality of a senior class has been such a 
motivation for us this year.”

The slogan for the team this year 
is “grit.”

“I think grit is the perfect word for this class, and I’m glad we chose it [at the] beginning of the year because all five of them have shown it throughout their career – you know, not given up,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “They bounce back when they fall down and get right back up.”

That grit has paid off this season. All five have starting roles, and the Auburn series this past weekend was a showcase of their talents. Bell and Spencer 
combined for three home runs.

“I can’t really say there’s been one weekend because our class – we’re not a bunch of well-known names, we don’t have a star in our class or 
anything like that,” Spencer said. “I think it’s just been the fact that the five of us have created a name for ourselves as a whole, I think that says a lot about our team and the tradition and just the 
selflessness involved with the program.”

The class that claims to be misfits or even underdogs has found success in that role. Alabama is nearly always cast as Goliath to the opposing team’s David, but in 2012, Oklahoma was the favorite to win the national championship. Last year, the team went to Florida and took two of three against the No. 1 team in the country.

Last weekend, against then-No. 6 Auburn, Alabama was David again, going up against a battery of offense on the road with a possibility of only two of its three pitchers being well enough to start.

After securing the series, Alabama turned to Jury for the sweep.

“Leslie Jury has really stepped her game up this year,” Hays said. “She’s doing phenomenal, and I’m so proud of Leslie, just everything about Leslie this year is just awesome. I love her demeanor. I love 
everything about it.”

In the bottom of the seventh after the Tigers tied the game 10-10, Jury pushed it to extras. The runner on third attempted to steal home on the throw from Bell behind the plate back to Jury. She saw the runner out of the corner of her eye and threw to Bell, who managed to tag her.

Bell said that play came down to trust.

“Having that one last fight together, it was awesome,” she said.

There is one way for the freshmen from 2012 to put a perfect bookend on their careers: win another championship.

“This team itself is so amazing, and I think the bonds on this team are stronger than they’ve ever been in my four years,” Jury said. “We’ve always had really close teams, but this team is just really, really close, and people genuinely care about one another, and for this team to win a national championship it would be 
amazing because this team really 
deserves it.”

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