The Rise of Sides: Confidence is key for this Bama softball player

Junior K.B. Sides has found her stride. Now, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

The number eight could be the most significant number in Alabama softball history. 

The number has been worn by two four-time All-Americans and Alabama legends, Brittany Rogers and Olympian Haylie McCleney, and it was used in 2019 to help propel the program to its sixth conference championship and its first national semifinal appearance since 2014. 

Even for the least superstitious among us, there’s no denying that number eight continues to work its magic through junior K.B. Sides. 

Sides was a pivotal part of last year’s postseason success, as she carried a .355 batting average and had 10 RBIs. Sides carried that momentum into the 2020 shortened season, raising her batting average .179 for an overall team-leading .483 average and also leading the team with 20 RBIs. Sides’ productivity at the plate earned her a third spot in the lineup for the first time ever, and she quickly “fell in love” with the position.

“I have never hit in the three-spot before because in high school I was primarily a leadoff,” Sides said. “It’s just fun to score runs for the team. It’s my favorite part.”

The numbers put up by Sides were good enough to qualify her for Softball America’s shortened-season All-American team. But being named an All-American isn’t Sides’ main goal. 

“I think it’s cool, but not necessarily something that I look at,” Sides said. “The only thing that really matters to me is winning that national championship with my team.” 

Sides credited the improvements she made since the start of her collegiate career to the faith she has in herself. But Sides didn’t have this confidence when she first arrived in Tuscaloosa back in 2018. Coming from Dora, Ala., a town the size of a large high school, and being named to one of the top collegiate softball programs in the country was a little intimidating. She described everyone as “just so good” and didn’t know where her place was. 

That changed her sophomore year, when head coach Patrick Murphy told her he believed she had all the tools necessary to become “one of the best in the country.” It was not just Murphy who began to instill confidence in Sides, but also the rest of the coaching staff and her teammates.

“I think hearing those words of affirmation from him and everyone else just really helped me understand that,” Sides said. 

Sides’ confidence is carried over into her intangibles, something that Murphy makes each player have to make the team better. 

“It’s just about being strong in my mind,” Sides said. “Even if I get out, the mentality needs to be that I’m going to beat [the opponent] the next time.” 

This past offseason was a relaxing one for Sides, but she said she was more than ready to “get up and get out there” for the beginning of fall practice. She said her goal is to “get the job done no matter what.”