Softball’s season ends in WCWS semifinals

Robert Cortez, Assistant Sports Editor

In a season full of adversity, No. 3 Alabama (52-9) shined. The Crimson Tide’s season ended in an 8-5 loss in Oklahoma City on Monday night. “Team 25” fell to No. 10 Florida State (48-11-1) in its semifinal appearance at the Women’s College World Series. 

“The adversity we faced won’t only help us in softball, but it’s going to help us in life,” graduate student Bailey Hemphill said. 

During Alabama’s 2020-2021 campaign, graduate student Claire Jenkins and freshman Bailey Dowling suffered season-ending injuries. A trio of other regulars in the lineup missed several weeks of the season due to nagging injuries. This led to doubt in the minds of some on how much Alabama could accomplish. 

The Crimson Tide won a conference-leading sixth SEC Tournament title and finished top four nationally. The team boasted a 20-game winning streak that spanned from its series finale against No. 4 Florida in mid-April to the semifinal round of the Women’s College World Series. 

For these reasons, Head Coach Patrick Murphy said “Team 25” was the grittiest team he has ever coached. 

“We went through a lot,” Murphy said. “They’ve done a great job of staying together.”

The grit Murphy references was on full display in the season finale. Alabama was down 8-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning but scored five unanswered runs to put the game within striking distance. However, Alabama was unable to plate a run in the final two innings. 

A pair of its runs came off Hemphill’s home run in the bottom of the third. The Louisiana native ended her career as one of the most decorated players in program history. Hemphill leads the program with 64 long balls and leads the conference with 237 walks. She is the second best in program history with 239 RBIs.

“She’s one of the best hitters we’ve ever had in our program, and there’s nothing she can improve on her career,” Murphy said. “She’s the ideal person to represent The University of Alabama.”

Hemphill said the wins and losses don’t compare to the bonds and memories she made. She said her time playing inside Rhoads Stadium and roaming around campus was a blessing. 

“Wearing this ‘A’ has been everything to me,” Hemphill said. “This University has given me more than I ever could have asked for.”

Nine players will move on to the next chapters of their lives, including 2021 SEC Player of the Year and First Team All-American Hemphill, 2021 First Team All-SEC members Elissa Brown and Alexis Mack, 2019 SEC Pitcher of the Year Sarah Cornell and 2019 Second Team All-SEC member Maddie Morgan. 

“The seniors were everything to us, and we’re family forever,” junior Montana Fouts said.