Alabama Softball Earns SEC Honors

There probably won't be a dog pile at Alabama softball practice today. That is used for team championships, such as the Southeastern Conference regular season one the Crimson Tide clinched with a win at Missouri last weekend. And there may be others as Bama prepares for the SEC Tournament as the number one seed this week and then on to the NCAA Tournament.

It is not, however, just about team championships. Alabama is a championship softball team because the Crimson Tide has championship caliber players and coaches, as was demonstrated when the league's honors were announced Tuesday.

Most notable were senior Jaclyn Traina being the 2014 SEC Pitcher of the Year and Patrick Murphy selected as conference Coach of the Year. It was not a new experience for either.

Additionally, four Bama players are on the All-SEC team. Outfielder Haylie McCleney joined Traina on the first team. Infielder Kaila Hunt and catcher Molly Fichtner are second team selections.

Traina is the second player in Alabama history to earn two SEC Pitcher of the Year awards, also earning the honor in her sophomore 2012 season. Former All-America Kelsi Dunne (2008-11) won back-to-back honors in 2010 and 2011. Traina was dominant in SEC play this season, compiling a 13-1 record over 15 starts with a 1.90 ERA. Four of her wins were against ranked opponents, including a pair against the then-No. 1 ranked Florida Gators in Gainesville, helping her win SEC Pitcher of the Week, USA Softball Player of the Week, and NFCA Co-Player of the Week honors. Traina is one win away from the 100th of her career, which would make her just the third pitcher in Alabama history and the ninth in SEC history to surpass the triple-digit career mark.

Murphy, in his 16th season at the helm of the Crimson Tide, earns his fourth SEC Coach of the Year award, winning previously in 2006, 2010 and 2012. This year's SEC Championship is his fifth at Alabama, including four in the last five years. He owns an 833-223 all-time record at Alabama, becoming just the 16th current Division-I coach with at least 800 wins at their current school earlier this season. Prior to the start of the season, Murphy was inducted into the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Sophomore Haylie McCleney earned spots on the All-SEC and the SEC All-Defensive Team. She hit .386 in conference play with a team-leading 27 hits, 21 walks and 11 stolen bases. She started all 24 SEC games for Alabama, reaching base safely in all but one of them. In the field, she owned a perfect fielding percentage and earned an appearance on the ESPN SportsCenter Top 10 Plays with a diving catch against LSU. This marks her first selection as All-SEC and her second on the SEC All-Defensive Team.

Senior Kaila Hunt was one of five infielders named to the second team, marking her third-straight appearance on an SEC post-season team. She earned second team last season and first team during the Tide's 2012 national championship year. Hunt led the team with five home runs in SEC play, helping push her career total to 57 which is three shy of Kelly Kretschman's (1998-2001) school record of 60.

Senior Molly Fichtner makes her first appearance on the SEC postseason award list, the lone catcher to the second team. Fichtner led the Tide with a .391 average in conference play with 27 hits, seven doubles and 16 RBI. On defense, she threw out a conference-leading seven would-be base stealers in SEC play with just two errors and no passed balls. She is in her second season with Alabama after transferring from UT-San Antonio following the 2012 season.

Alabama has had at least four All-SEC honorees in all but two seasons in program history and has earned at least one individual award in six of the last seven seasons. The SEC also announced its 2014 Community Service Team, with junior Jadyn Spencer as the Tide's representative.

As the top seed in the SEC Tournament at Columbia, S.C., Bama has a first round bye. The Tide will play the winner of the Wednesday's South Carolina-Auburn game Thursday evening.


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