Alabama Softball Preview: 2017 Season
Game week is here for Alabama softball as they embark on the 2017 season beginning Friday morning.
Alabama enters the season with high expectations thanks to the return of the entire pitching staff from 2016 including two All-American pitchers in senior Sydney Littlejohn and junior Alexis Osorio.
Littlejohn garnered NFCA 2nd Team All-American honors by leading the Crimson Tide with 23 wins while Osorio led the team with 273 strikeouts last season and earned 2nd Team All-American honors as a freshman in 2015.
Madi Moore returns for her sophomore season after going 9-0 in 18 appearance during her freshman campaign.
During his visit on Friday’s edition of The Gary Harris Show, head coach Patrick Murphy looked ahead to the 2017 season including a look at his pitching staff.
“All of them have really good experience. Madi (Moore) was 9-0 as a freshman. So it’s not like she’s coming in and didn’t get to pitch last year, and the other two have both been named 2nd Team All-American during their careers.” Murphy said.
Alabama’s head softball coach highlighted the strengths of his three pitchers.
“Sydney has one of the best curveballs in the country. Lexi has one of the best riseballs, and Madi (Moore) is a lefty that throws pretty hard.” Murphy said.
Murphy also touched on Moore’s ability to consistently locate her pitches as an area that can take the sophomore pitcher to the next level.
“If Madi (Moore) can spot up her pitches, she can beat anybody. When she can hit the corners and hit whatever Steph (VanBrakle Prothro) calls, she’s going to be tough to beat.” Murphy mentioned.
He also expressed his pleasure at the way that Littlejohn, Osorio and Moore have prepared themselves relative to conditioning.
“All three are in very good shape. They were challenged at the beginning of the season to get in the best shape of their life, and I think all of them have done that. So I don’t think endurance is going to be an issue with anybody.” Murphy said.
Offensively, Murphy discussed the versatility up and down the lineup.
“This is my best mix as an offense. We got a couple power lefties. We got quite a few lefties that can run. We’ve got a couple of righties that can run, and then we got a bunch of power righties.” Murphy said.
With the diverse nature of the hitters, the veteran Alabama softball coach expressed his optimism at how the diverse skills on offense can provide flexibility in the lineup.
“I think I’m going to be able to mix and match according to whoever is going to pitch to us, and I haven’t able to do that as much in the past, but I think this year, it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s almost going to be like managing in the National League without the pitcher having to hit.” Murphy said.
The biggest whole to fill in Alabama’s lineup on offense and defense is the departure of decorated four-time All-American outfielder Haylie McCleney.
During his conversation with Gary Harris, Patrick Murphy listed true freshman Elissa Brown and sophomore Merris Schroder as the primary candidates to succeed McCleney as the Crimson Tide’s opening day center fielder.
Alabama’s opens the season at 11:30 AM Friday morning against Towson in the Kickin’ Chicken Classic.