Considering the outstanding performance of Alabama softball under Coach Patrick Murphy, it would not be a surprise to see the Crimson Tide ranked third in a preseason poll. A national poll, that it. But it’s the nature of the strength of the Southeastern Conference that Bama has been predicted to tie for third in trhe SEC.
The league’s 13 coaches selected defending champion Florida to repeat. The Gators got nine first place votes and 141 points. Auburn was second with 126 points and Alabama and LSU tied for third with 118 points each.
Alabama has won five SEC regular season titles, including four over the last seven years, along with five SEC Tournament titles. The Crimson Tide owns winning all-time records over 11 of its 12 league opponents and an all-time record of 410-143 (.741) in SEC play. This year’s senior class is 52-20 (.722) in SEC play since their 2014 freshman season, winning 21 of the 24 conference series played over those three years.
This season in conference play, Alabama will host Arkansas (March 10-12), South Carolina (March 24-26), LSU (April 7-9) and Auburn (May 5-7) while traveling to face Mississippi State (March 17-19), Missouri (March 31-April 2), Tennessee (April 15-17) and Ole Miss (April 29-May 1). The 2017 SEC Tournament will take place in Knoxville May 10-13.
The Crimson Tide returns 14 players from last year’s team, including All-American pitcher Sydney Littlejohn and SEC All-Freshman catcher Reagan Dykes. New additions to the team this season include freshmen Elissa Brown (Eclectic), Gabby Callaway (San Diego, Calif.), Bailey Hemphill (Lafayette, La.) and Claire Jenkins (Cullman).
Last season, Alabama made its 11th Women’s College World Series appearance, finishing sixth nationally with a 51-14 record. The Tide coaching staff was named the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year for the 10th time in program history, led by head coach Patrick Murphy who enters his 19th season at the helm of the team this year.
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The Tide opens its 2017 season at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic in Conway, S.C. on Feb. 10-12, facing Towson, Coastal Carolina and Youngstown State. Alabama’s home opener will take place the following Wednesday, Feb. 15, against South Alabama at 5 p.m. CT.