#2 Alabama Softball Preview

Alabama Crimson Tide

Overall Rank: #2
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
Alabama College Softball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Alabama Crimson Tide go into the 2013 Season as defending National Champions, capturing their first ever National Crown and the SEC’s first World Series Title.  Coach Patrick Murphy, who will start his 15th spring at the helm of the Tide, long ago elevated his club to a perennial power, reaching the College World Series eight times, winning four SEC Titles (three straight) and reaching 14 consecutive NCAA Tournaments.  The 2012 bunch was talented and put up eye popping offensive numbers.  Nationally, they ranked 17th in average, third in scoring, fifth in home runs per game, fifth in stolen bases per game and seventh in slugging.  Coach Murphy who was recently selected for induction into the NFCA Hall of Fame, lost five 53-plus game starters, two infielders, two outfielders and the DP, but returns 14 letter winners, adds four decorated freshmen and a transfer.  He had this to say about the coming year, “We are excited to get going with our preseason practices in January.  Fall was a good learning experience for our five new kids.”

2012: 60-8, 23-5
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Patrick Murphy, 15th Season

Field Players:
Senior outfielder Kayla Braud had another outstanding season, hitting .345 with 12 doubles.  She walked 35 times and stole 41 bases, 12th in country.  Junior short stop Kaila Hunt was ninth nationally with 21 bombs.  She led the Tide with 77 RBI.  Thirty-one of her 58 hits were for extra bases.  Hunt slugged .715.  Coach Murphy is looking for great things from his two stars, “Kayla Braud – three-time All-SEC, two-time All-American.  She is our best player and best leader.  Good things usually happen when that is the case.  Kaila Hunt – second team All-American.  She can improve greatly.  More importantly, she knows it!”

The 2012 National Champions return three of their four pitchers from last season, losing Amanda Locke from their staff.  Junior All-American Jackie Traina led the nation with 42 wins, was seventh in the country with 8.8 strikeouts per seven innings, tossing 288.2 innings.  The World Series MVP fanned 361 batters.  Her skipper says, “She has room to improve which makes everyone in Alabama excited.”  Sophomore Leslie Jury made 21 appearances last spring, 14 of them were starts.  She struck out 70 in 79 innings of work, finishing with a 2.75 ERA.  Senior Lauren Sewell saw limited action, just five starts and seven total appearances.  She posted a 1.75 ERA through 58.1 innings.  Murphy feels good about his staff, “We will have three we can call on at any time.  Traina, Jury and Sewell all complement each other.  Sewell was doing awesome at the time of a knee injury last year so all of us are looking forward to her return.”

Who to Watch:  
Bama brings in one of the best recruiting classes in the country.  All four freshmen are listed in the top half of the 2012 ESPN Top 100 Recruits List.  Andrea Hawkins, an outfielder from Texas, is number two on the list and was also an ESPN High School All-American.  Haylie McCleney, also an outfielder, registered 24 on the Top Recruit List, was 2012 Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year, Alabama Sports Writers’ Player of the Year, three-time All-State and a three-time State Champion.  Kallie Case ranked 28th among the Top 100.  She was an All-State selectee in Georgia and helped her team win five consecutive state titles.  Leona Lafaele hails from Sacramento, California and rounds out the freshman class coming in at 41 among the top 100 recruits.  When asked which newcomers he thought would make an impact Coach Murphy said, “All of them.  Case, Hawkins, McCleney and Lafaele are going to be great players for us this year and in the future.”

Final Projection:
Coach Murphy knows that repeating as National Champs will be tough.  Just winning the league again will be quite the challenge.  “I think the SEC will be crazy-tough this year with the addition of Mizzou and A&M.  Adding two programs like that will automatically force the rest of us to work that much smarter and harder.  It’s great for the game and for fans of SEC softball.”  The return of Traina, Braud and Hunt’s production and leadership, coupled with Bama’s other experienced talent and heralded freshmen will give the Tide an excellent chance to win their fourth consecutive SEC regular season crown, reach the NCAA Tournament for the 15th straight year and make their ninth trip back to the Women’s College World Series.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Kayla Braud, OF, 203
Hits: Kayla Braud, OF, 70
Home Runs: Kaila Hunt, SS, 21
RBIs: Kaila Hunt, SS, 77
Runs: Kayla Braud, OF, 60
Stolen Bases: Kayla Braud, OF, 41

Wins: Jackie Traina, P, 42
Innings Pitched: Jackie Traina, P, 288.2
Strikeouts: Jackie Traina, P, 361
Saves: Jackie Traina, P, 2

Madness 2013 NPF Draft Rankings:
#4 Kayla Braud

Madness 2013 Softball Recruit Rankings:
#2 Andrea Hawkins
#33 Haylie McCleney
#42 Kallie Case
#60 Leona Lafaele


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