If you are a long-time Alabama football fan, you are probably familiar with the little town of Town Creek, AL. It is a tiny speck on the map halfway between Muscle Shoals and Decatur but it is a large landmark on Alabama football from the late 1980s into the 1990s producing Antonio Langham and the Goode brothers (Kerry, Chris, Pierre, and Clyde).
Now there is another little burgh in north Alabama that has risen and is getting some interest from the softball world. Drive north from Birmingham up I-65 and you might just pass by Morris, AL. It has a modest population of around 1,800 but two Morris natives are making big waves. Freshman sensation Haylie McCleney and sophomore Danae Hays are stepping to the forefront in the young softball season for the Crimson Tide.
Hays was a big part of last season’s national championship run hitting five home runs and 21 RBI with a .253 average while patrolling second base in her freshman campaign. Whatever she did in the off-season is working because she already has two dingers and 9 RBIs in 8 games played. She is hitting a robust .588 with an astronomical 1.059 slugging percentage and a .708 on-base percentage. Those last two stats lead the team (and probably near the top in the nation although I cannot confirm). However, her batting average is actually second on the team to former Mortimer Jordan High School teammate, McCleney.
Outfielder Haylie McCleney has exploded on the scene with 21 hits in 35 at bats (.600) in her first ten collegiate games. She has four doubles, one triple, 2 home runs (one was an inside-the-parker), and leads the team in runs scored (15) and stolen bases (11 for 11). For her efforts, she was named the SEC Freshman of the Week.
With the emergence of these two young ladies added to the mix of Jackie “J-Train” Traina (.400, 2 HR; 5-0, 0.23 ERA), Kayla Braud (.429), and Kaila Hunt (.423, 4 HR) expect another banner year from the Tide.
* Mortimer Jordan High School has won the Alabama 5A State Championship in 2008, 2009, and 2011. They finished second in the 2010 and 2012.
* Over 5,000 fans showed up for the Alabama-Northern Iowa game in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Coach Patrick Murphy played baseball at UNI in the late 1980s.
* Former Tide star Cassie Reilly-Boccia was in attendance. She is working on her graduate degree at UNI.
* Due to last week’s rainout against South Alabama, the softball home opener is this Friday, Feb. 22, at 4:00 p.m. CT vs. Western Illinois and against Iowa at 6:30 p.m. CT in the Easton Bama Bash.