TUSCALOOSA, AL – As the Spring semester gets underway and students settle into their new classes, the Crimson Tide softball team is making its final preparations for the 2019 campaign.

The new season will begin with the Troy Tournament hosted by Troy University, beginning with a matchup with Murray State February 8 at 12:30.

Head Coach Patrick Murphy said he’s been “really happy with everything” he’s seen so far through the first few weeks of practice.

“I think everybody came back in pretty good shape after Christmas break. Because, you know, that’s a hard thing,” he said. From December 3 until January 8, the team was unable to meet officially. “I’m pleased with everybody.”

The Tide returns four seniors to lead the way toward a run at the SEC Championship. Catcher Reagan Dykes and Pitcher Courtney Gettins have been named the captains.

Dykes has been behind the plate for Alabama her entire career and has developed into the unquestioned leader of the team.

“Reagan’s one of the few kids that isn’t afraid to hold somebody accountable and that’s a big key nowadays,” Murphy said. “She’s kind of a blue collar, old fashioned kid that does things the right way.”

Gettins has world competition experience, having been a part of New Zealand’s national team and facing both the USA and Japan teams, arguably the two best in the world right now. Murphy says that experience has given his lead pitcher a “Bring ‘em on!” mentality.

“I know Courtney takes great pride in wearing that New Zealand uniform. For her to have that world competition in your bag of tricks helps us out a lot, because nothing really phases her. She’s not afraid of anybody,” he said.

Junior Bailey Hemphill and sophomore outfielder Kaylee Tow will assist on the leadership front as well as they were named to the 2019 Softball Preseason All-SEC Team Thursday.

This year’s squad also boasts four players who have a spot on the USA junior national team: freshman pitcher Montana Fouts, freshman infielder Skylar Wallace, junior outfielder Elissa Brown and Tow.

Murphy said having having national talent “looks really good” for the program and will help them in many ways on and off the field.

Murphy said Fouts is “a name you need to remember” who he touts as being “already the hardest working pitcher we’ve ever had.”

That’s good news for the Crimson Tide, as pitching was one of their biggest problems last year. After a season that saw two of the team’s three pitchers hurt for the majority of the season, Alabama will have five pitchers in the rotation this season.

“We’ve got all the pitches covered,” Murphy said. “It’s going to be really fun to be able to mix and match the pitchers with the opponent.”

With a new pitching staff, the Crimson Tide seem poised for a push back into the national spotlight. Murphy said this team’s unwritten goal is to get to Oklahoma City and contend for a title. He said he sees a highly motivated group.

“One thing that’s been happening is, the practices have been a little harder, but I’ve heard very little complaining, which is a good thing,” he said.

While the first series will be in the Wiregrass region of Alabama, the Crimson Tide will not play a home game until they host Missouri State on February 22 for the Easton Bama Bash. Between those series the Tide will travel to Arizona for the Hillenbrand Invitational.

(Photo courtesy of RollTide.com)