#6 Alabama Softball 2016 Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide
Overall Rank: #6
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
Alabama Logo
As the Alabama softball team heads into its 20th, season the Crimson Tide have established a culture of excellence that has placed the program amongst the elite in college softball. After their 10th trip to the Women’s College World Series last season, Alabama brings back an experienced pitching staff and front line position players in outfielder Haylie McCleney, infielder Demi Turner and infielder Marisa Runyon. This mix of players should present a great challenge for opposing teams each time out this season.
2015: 48-15, 17-7
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Patrick Murphy
Field Players:
Senior outfielder Haylie McCleney will be looking to write a storybook ending to her outstanding career by leading the Crimson Tide to a national title this season. McCleney can just about do it all as she hit .436 last season with eight homeruns, 47 runs batted in and 32 stolen bases out of 34 attempts. Also, the defensive prowess of McCleney can’t be underestimated as she only committed two errors last season for a .981 fielding percentage. Sophomore infielder Demi Turner had a terrific freshman season in 2015, hitting .423. She was a force on the bases too with 16 stolen beds in 19 attempts. If Turner can increase her walk total from eight to say in the 20’s, she could make a nice run at 30 plus stolen bases this season.
Sophomore Alexis Osorio should get most of the starts in 2016 as Osorio was lights out last season as a freshman, winning 22 games. Junior Sydney Littlejohn should see plenty of action in the circle as well this season for Alabama. Littlejohn won 16 games and only allowed 75 hits in 106.1 innings of work last season. One other key trait that Osorio and Littlejohn have is that they attack you and make opposing hitters earn everything they get as both pitchers didn’t walk many batters and kept opposing hitters from hitting over .200 as well.
Who to Watch:
Junior infielder Marisa Runyon is back and will be looking to match or surpass her outstanding sophomore season of a year ago. Runyon hit .327 with 19 homeruns, 80 runs batted in and earned Second Team All-SEC along with NFCA Third Team All-American honors. The 80 runs batted in broke the single season record at Alabama, which was previously held by Charlotte Morgan, who drove in 79 runs back in 2008. Junior utility player Chandler Dare continued to emerge last season. Dare started 39 games in 59 appearances and hit .347 with 22 runs batted in. Sophomore outfielder Sydney Booker, who transferred from Southeastern Louisiana and hit .362 last season, will compete right away for playing time.
Final Projection:
The Crimson Tide will have a tough but balanced non-conference schedule. UCF will be ready and excited for Alabama to come to Orlando during the opening week of the season. James Madison, Arizona, North Dakota State and Oklahom are also a part of the non-conference schedule that will definitely test the Crimson Tide. A trip to Baton Rouge will await Alabama to start SEC play. This series should be one involving two teams that should be strong contenders to make it to Oklahoma City. Then, after hosting Alcorn State and Missouri, the Crimson Tide will get their shot at reigning national champion Florida. If Alabama can navigate a challenging conference schedule, they should be in position for one of the prized top eight national seeds in the NCAA Tournament with a clear path to Oklahoma City.
Projected Postseason:  NCAA Softball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Demi Turner, IF, 194
Hits: Demi Turner, IF, 82
Home Runs: Marisa Runyon, IF,19
RBIs: Marisa Runyon, IF, 80
Runs: Haylie McCleney, OF, 69
Stolen Bases: Haylie McCleney, OF, 32
Wins: Alexis Osorio, P, 22
Innings Pitched: Alexis Osorio, P, 192.0
Strikeouts: Alexis Osorio, P, 227
Saves: Sydney Littlejohn, P, 1
Madness 2016 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#47 Reagan Dykes
#48 Madi Moore