Coach Patrick Murphy has the Alabama softball team primed for another run to the Women's College World Series (WCWS). His #2 ranked team is 35-5 overall and 14-1 to lead the ultra-competitive SEC. The Crimson Tide has won nine straight and 17 of the last 18 - the one loss coming at Florida where Bama won the other two games of the series.
Murphy is now 824-218 (.791) overall and 337-103 (.766) in SEC play in his 16th season as Alabama’s head coach.
He took a few moments from his busy schedule to answer my pestering question:
Q: After losing some senior leadership from last season, who has picked up the torch on this team?
Murphy: We have five outstanding seniors this year (Jaclyn Traina, Kaila Hunt, Jordan Patterson, Ryan Iamurri, Molly Fichtner) who have stepped into those leadership roles vacated by last year’s seniors.
Q: Your team had a rough couple of weeks in February losing two to Arizona followed by a home loss to McNeese State a week later. What did the team do to rebound from those defeats?
Murphy: Work harder in practice – before and after. Early season adversity is what drives a team later on in the season. It has helped us become the team we are right now: No. 1 in Division I RPI.
Q: We all know about ace Jaclyn Traina but what can you tell us about Leslie Jury’s development as a pitcher and her worth to the team?
Murphy: Leslie has been great controlling the controllables this year. She is much stronger mentally and that makes her much better on the mound in game situations. She also worked extremely hard this offseason on her conditioning.
Q: What makes All-American Haylie McCleney (.495 BA, 50 runs, 8 HR, 32 RBI, 23-24 stolen bases, 0 errors) so darn good?
Murphy: She is a natural athlete. There is nothing she can’t do on a softball field. I’m confident she could play several sports well in college. She has tremendous hand-eye coordination as well which makes her very tough to strike out.
Q: Who is your unsung hero – maybe someone who does not get enough credit for the team’s success so far?
Murphy: Ryan Iamurri and Jordan Patterson. They are senior role players who have taught the team what it means to be great teammates. They are both outstanding students, great leaders and love the University of Alabama. They would make any team better on campus.
04/09/14 vs. UAB Tuscaloosa, Ala. 6:05 p.m. CT (WVUA-TV; CTSN - 95.3 FM)
04/11/14 at Mississippi State, Starkville, Miss. 5:00 p.m. CT
04/12/14 at Mississippi State, Starkville, Miss. 6:00 p.m. CT
04/13/14 at Mississippi State, Starkville, Miss. 1:00 p.m. CT (Fox Sports Net)
04/16/14 vs. Auburn at Lagoon Park, Montgomery, Ala. 6:30 p.m. CT - Tickets are selling out fast. Let's make this a HOME game!
*** Don't forget to vote for Kaila Hunt once a day at http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/softball_2014/