2019 was a thrill ride of a season that ascended the Crimson Tide softball team to heights that few expected. 2020 has potential to soar even higher.
It is already a well-told story that the softball sports writers predicted Alabama to finish eighth in the 13 team SEC. There are many February Tweets out there being deleted as we speak.
The Crimson Tide started the season with 12-0 run rule win over Murray State and steamrolled their way to 33-0 that included a convincing win at Arizona and two wins over Minnesota. Alabama proceeded to go 50-6 overall and 18-6 in the SEC winning the conference by four full games.
Following the regular season, the Tide got to the SEC Tournament Championship Game but fell to Florida by a slim 2-1 margin. Based on this, the NCAA Selection Committee threw another egg on Bama’s face and seeded the Gators No. 5 and Alabama 8. To add insult to injury, Arizona was rewarded No. 6 while Minnesota took 7. (No. 4 went to FSU who did not even get out of the Super Regional played on their home field.)
The Crimson Tide used the number 8 as incentive and began their revenge tour. After spanking a feisty Arizona State squad in the Regional, the ladies in Crimson took down Texas in the Supers.
In Game 1, Alabama went toe-to-toe with 1-seed Oklahoma but fell 3-2. Had they played any of the other six teams that day, I am certain they would have won. But Bama took the path that fate brought them and clawed their way back. First was a run-rule 15-3 rout over Florida, followed by a 2-0 win over Arizona. On Sunday, Oklahoma lost for only the fourth time this season, which was the first and only walk-off loss for the Sooners in 2019.
With the Alabama ace out of gas, the Tide could not keep up with OU in the rubber match and the season ended on another late-nighter.
The Crimson Tide finished with 60 wins (60-10) for the first time since the National Championship season of 2012.
Unless a player of great value transfers, which is unlikely, the Tide loses only four seniors. All four showed great leadership, even if some of them were in the dugout most of the time.
- C Reagan Dykes - starter, team captain.
- LF Merris Schroder - starter, a good player but not irreplaceable.
- UTILTY Caroline Hardy - had some big moments as a pinch-hitter.
- P Courtney Gettins - buried in the depth chart.
As good as this team was, they could be better in the coming year. Alabama will have seven returning starters in the field and their top 3 pitchers. The year listed next to names represents the class they will be next season.
- RHP Montana Fouts So. - Superstar.
- RHP Krystal Goodman Sr. - shows ace-like quality but needs to work on durability.
- RHP Sarah Cornell Sr. - also has flashes of greatness but sometimes runs hot and cold.
- LHP Madison Preston Jr. - God bless her, she is a sweet girl, but she cannot effectively pitch at this level. She may transfer, quit softball, or choose to stick around a be a good teammate. JUNE 7 UPDATE: Reportedly entered the Transfer Portal. JULY 8: Arizona State.
- RHP Alexis “Lexi” Kilfoyl Fr. - from Land O’ Lakes, Fla, she is ranked in the Top 10 of 2019 signees. She is softball’s equivalency of a 5-star.
- CF Elissa Brown Sr. - returning starter. Needs to work on her batting stance.
- RF KB Sides Jr. - returning starter. Really emerged this year as a threat at the plate and in th efield. Will only get better.
- OF Kaylee Tow Jr. - returning starter. All-American potential. Another year of instruction should improve her approach to at bats. Also plays first base.
- OF Kloyee Anderson So. - scored more runs (18) than recorded at bats (16) this past season. Was often used as a pinch runner, stealing 11 of 12 bases. Can also play second base. Potential starter? JUNE 7 UPDATE: Reportedly entered the Transfer Portal.
- OF Kayla Davis So. - Still relatively new to the game, this Hueytown prospect shows promise as a power-hitter.
- OF Jenna Johnson Fr. - Ranked among the Top 100 incoming frosh.
- JUNE 19 UPDATE: Alabama has picked up a grad transfer from Oregon. Alexis Mack sat out this past season but hit .369 in 2018 with 66 hits, a .418 on-base, and 43 runs scored. The outfielder started all 62 of Oregon’s games last year and was second-team All-Pac 12 as a sophomore and junior.
I’m so excited to announce that I will be playing my final year and have been accepted into Alabama’s Advertising and PR masters program where I will focus my studies on female athlete representation in sports media! Roll Tide ️ ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/6MxK97FqnR— αℓєχιѕ мαϲк (@alexissmack) June 19, 2019
- 1B/C Bailey Hemphill Sr. - returning starter, Beast (26 HR - 2nd most in NCAA, 84 RBI - 1st most). It’s possible we may see this All-American move behind the plate on a permanent basis in 2020. She caught around 20 games this past season.
- 2B Skylar Wallace So. - returning starter, future star. Can she play shortstop?
- 3B Maddie Morgan Jr. - returning starter. Needs a little improvement at the plate but excelled in the field and invaluable as a team leader and cheerleader.
- SS Claire Jenkins Sr. - returning starter. Fell into a DEEEEP funk. Decent fielder but may find herself beat out for a job next year.
- IF Taylor Clark Sr. - transferred from Virginia Tech before last season where she played third base. Highly unlikely she cracks the starting lineup.
- IF Kyra Lockhart Jr. - limited play in two years.
- C Karla Hice Fr. - another option at catcher.
- IF Savannah Woodard Fr. - can play many positions.
I started covering softball for RBR in 2014 mainly because outside of Jumbo Packages, it was not getting too much attention. Like many of you, my background is rooted more in baseball, but following Bama softball has given me a new appreciation for the sport and the incredible athletes these young women are [I dare any of you to hit a softball hurled at you 70 miles per hour from 43 feet away]. During that 2014 season, the Crimson Tide made it all the way to the Championship Game before falling to Florida. The next two seasons, Bama was eliminated in the WCWS. In 2017 and 2018, they failed to advance past the Super Regionals and doubts started creeping in. But this 2019 team wiped that all away and won our hearts for their tenacity and never-give-up attitude. And in the process, created new softball fans as well. There were 586 comments for last season’s Iron Bowl Open Thread on RBR. The two softball Open Threads from Sunday totaled 592 comments.
So to all you fans, I thank you for following along all season. I think I even learned a thing or two from you. Here’s looking forward to next season and another trip to OKC.