OKLAHOMA CITY — Carrigan Fain and several of her Alabama teammates stood just to the right of the Alabama dugout playing an impromptu game of hacky sack in the rain.
A few minutes later, a dance competition broke out, along with a Running Man Challenge right in front of the dugout that included senior center fielder Haylie McCleney, one of the best players in program history.
Few squads handle rain delays better than Patrick Murphy’s Alabama softball team, although the one that affected its Women’s College World Series opener against Oklahoma was quite a bit longer than the Crimson Tide is accustomed to.
After nearly three hours of rain and lightning delays Thursday, the game was suspended until Friday evening, when a walk-off home run lifted the Sooners to a 3-0, extra inning victory.
Crimson Tide players and coaches don’t believe the delay affected the outcome, though. After all, the teams were only in the second inning of a scoreless tie Thursday when the tarps came out.
Murphy basically copied Thursday’s pregame schedule — everything down to the time his team ate lunch — on Friday, and then once they arrived at the stadium, the game got started pretty quickly.
“It just kind of felt like deja vu, getting out here at the same time and warming up the same way,” McCleney said. “If anything, I liked it better because we didn’t have the National Anthem, the intros, all that leading up to the game. It was like, ‘We’re both here, let’s finish what we started.’”
None of the players on Alabama’s current team were on Murphy’s 2012 national championship squad, but the scene outside of the Crimson Tide’s dugout Thursday night was reminiscent of that year’s World Series.
In the decisive Game 3 of that year’s WCWS championship series, Alabama trailed Oklahoma 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth when weather forced a 13-minute delay. During that time, Crimson Tide players danced in front of the dugout and led their rowdy fans in chants.
There were two outs when the delay began, but after play resumed, Alabama scored three runs, took the lead for good and went on to win the first softball national championship in SEC history.
“(The players) have like a childlike love for the game, and you don’t want to ruin that,” Murphy said. “I know you’ve seen coaches that do ruin that. I’m not going to do that. They all love the game.”
Alabama faces elimination when it returns to action at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, but don’t expect the Crimson Tide players to come out tight or overly nervous.
That’s just not their style.
“They’re a loose group,” Murphy said. “I’ve learned the hard way, too, here being the opposite. Tight does not equal success.”