Alabama is host of the NCAA Regional with South Alabama, South Carolina Upstate, and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville challenging the Crimson Tide. The tournament begins at 3:30 p.m. Friday when USC Upstate meets South Alabama. Bama and SIU-Edwardsville play at 5 p.m. Friday. Games continue Saturday and Sunday for the right to head to a Super Regional. Or, in Alabama's case as the No. 2 seed in the tournament, to host a Super Regional.
Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy led off the Thursday press briefing for the 10th consecutive regional in Tuscaloosa. As for the visitors, he said, "We know all three teams are going to be really, really good competitors. I think the more we've thought about the regional and looked at some other regionals, and looked at years past, this is probably one of the toughest roads of any of the teams here that are going to have to get through this regional. We're the only regional in the country that has three top 25 teams. South Alabama and Upstate are two and one in team ERA in the country, so it's definitely a loaded regional."
Patterson praised her coaching staff for doing "a really good job. They get tons of scouting reports from other teams, so even though we might lack some video on Edwardsville I think we're still prepared. We have a report on what their pitcher throws and they do a great job of finding out everything they can about other teams. I think that even though we don't necessarily have as much video on them, we still feel like we're prepared. They do a really good job with that."
As for the team's mindset, Patterson said, "I think the whole team's mindset is ‘to be the best you have to beat the best.' Whether we have to play the best teams in regionals or supers or at the wWorld Series, we're going to have to eventually. I think for us, it's more of a ‘bring it on' mindset. We don't need anyone to do us any favors. We're going to be ready from here on out for every single game."
South Alabama Coach Becky Clark said the regional has "a ton of talent. I can tell you there are no teams in this region that are just going to be happy to be here. There is a lot of pitching in this region and when you look at the records of the teams that are here, the teams here that know how to win and know how to win at a high level so the competition level is going to be outstanding. We know for ourselves that we have our work cut out for us. This is a tough bracket, and we look forward to the challenge of it."
USC Upstate Coach Chris Hawkins said, "We are looking forward to playing tomorrow. Last week at our conference tournament, we had a little bit of a letdown. We are fortunate to get the opportunity to continue to play. I have a feeling that you are going to see a rejuvenated, ready to get after it type team. One of the things that I think is important for everyone to realize and understand is that all four of these teams put in a lot of hard work and effort to get here. To make it as an at-large team from the Atlantic Sun – it is the first time that has ever happened - so I'm very, very proud of our team. We have a lot of leaders on our team and we are ready to get after it this weekend. I wish it was tomorrow already."
SIU Edwardsville Coach San Montgomery said, "We are extremely happy to have won our conference tournament. Getting the opportunity here to play at Alabama is exciting for all of our kids. I know that Alabama has a great following and a great crowd, and we're going to do our best to compete and see what happens."