The Alabama softball program of Coach Patrick Murphy, one of the nation’s best, begins its 2017 season today, and it begins with the Crimson Tide playing tournament softball on the road. Bama is at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic in Conway, S.C., site of the Coastal Carolina Softball Stadium.
Friday play begins at 12:30 EST (11:30 central time) with Alabama taking on Towson. Later Friday, at 3 p.m. EST (2 central) the Crimson Tide will meet host Coastal Carolina.
On Saturday Alabama will meet Towson at 9 a.m. CST and Youngstown State at 11:30. The first weekend of play for Bama wraps up with a Sunday game against Coastal Carolina at 11.
The Tide has never played softball against Towson or Youngstown State. Bama has a 2-0 all-time record against Coastal Carolina, games played in 2006 in Tuscaloosa.
To say that Alabama has been good on opening weekends is an understatement. Bama is 77-19 (80.2 per cent) all-time on opening weekend and has lost only once on opening weekend since 2010.
Alabama returns 14 players from last year’s team that finished sixth in the nation after making its 11th appearance in the Women’s College World Series. This year’s squad is preseason seventh in the nation.
Although the tournament is in Conway, S.C., Bama is staying in nearby Myrtle Beach, home of Crimson Tide senior Marisa Runyon. Runyon is one of several returning stars. In Alabama career statistics, Runyon is sixth all-time with a .635 slugging percentage and is tied for ninth with 33 home runs. She has 139 career runs batted in, 23 shy of making the top 10.
Bama is expected to have one of the nation’s best pitching staffs, led by senior Sydney Littlejohn, who was second team All-America last year with 23 wins, and junior Alexis Osorio, preseason All-Southeastern Conference and named to the Top 50 Player of the Year Watch List.
Alabama’s No. 3 returning pitcher, sophomore Madi Moore, was 9-0 last year with a 2.09 ERA.