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

Tide starts season Friday with Classic

The Alabama softball team will open its 2011 season Friday against Samford in the Hibbett/Easton All-American Softball Classic in Vestavia Hills. The Crimson Tide will also play Alabama A&M and Jacksonville State on Saturday. Then on Sunday, Alabama will go up against South Alabama and Troy.

“We definitely have had a countdown,” senior pitcher Kelsi Dunne said. “We’re definitely excited to get out there and play against somebody other than ourselves. We’ve been scrimmaging a lot. We’re excited to be able to be able to get back on the field together and compete.”

The team’s eagerness to get back into playing games has made the past few weeks’ practices difficult, but the players said the energy and excitement amongst the team is at one of its highest points.

“The hardest part about coming back after Christmas break is you have to practice for a month,” said sophomore outfielder Kayla Braud. “There’s so much anticipation for the season, and you’re ready to get to that opening weekend series. We’re really excited to start playing this weekend. We’ve been working really hard for a month. We’re prepared. I think practices have been going well. We’re just really excited to get out on the field.”

Last season, the Tide’s record was 52-11. Their final ranking was No. 9 USA Today/NFCA and No. 8 Softball. Alabama comes into this season at No. 6 and No. 3 respectively in those rankings.

“I think its been a good preseason,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “I think everyone’s working hard still. From the very beginning, this team has been in the best shape of any other team we’ve had, so hopefully it’s going to pay off in the end.”

The softball team has nine returning starters, having lost two seniors. The team also brings back 13 total letter winners, replacing five.

“Last year we had a lot of newcomers, and we’re working on kind of starting over, seeing as we lost a lot of seniors,” Braud said. “This year we’re going to come in stronger. We’re focused on playing one game at a time, one pitch at a time. We’re focused on this first series this weekend.”

Murphy thinks that the tournament this weekend will not only be a great opportunity for Alabama but also for the other collegiate schools throughout the state.

“It’s going to be a great opportunity to showcase the entire state of Alabama softball,” Murphy said. “The talent [is spread] among all nine division schools in the state. It’s never happened before that all nine that play come to one place. It’s been a great collaboration between all the schools. It’s a great opportunity for us to get out of the scrimmage mode and play someone different. It’s been three long weeks of cold weather and wet. It’s time.”

One thing that Murphy won’t have to worry about before this first series of the season is getting the athletes motivated to play. The team is filled with an incredible amount of returning talent, including four members that were selected to the SEC All-Tournament team last season — Dunne, Braud, junior outfielder Jennifer Fenton and senior utility Whitney Larson. The team also has two returning All-Americans and two from the SEC-All Freshman team.

“Coach doesn’t have to pep us up for any games,” Dunne said. “Whenever we have game day, we’re just all excited to put on our uniforms and get out and compete together. I think we all just motivate each other. We want each other to get better. We want our team to be awesome. We’re just ready to get out and play finally.”

More to Discover