TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Before the start of every season, University of Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy gives his players what he calls a “get to know me” sheet to fill out. Among the numerous questions is one that often results with a telling answer: What would you like to be remembered for this year?
Sophomore Gabby Callaway put down exactly what the coach hoped, to consistently knock in runs. She’s had six so far, including four against Penn State, while batting .400 over the first two weekends.
“I feel really locked in this year and it seems like there’s a lot less pressure,” Callaway said. “I know a lot of that was self-(created). You just put it on yourself as a freshman, you want that starting job so bad.”
She added: “I felt like a roller coaster last year.”
Like Alabama’s other sophomores — Bailey Hemphill, Elissa Brown and Claire Jenkins — who are all batting .333 or better, Callaway appears to be more relaxed and confident with a year under her belt.
“Preseason she probably hit the best off of our pitchers, and she’s continued it,” Murphy said. “She works as hard as anyone on the team.”
With junior Caroline Hardy coming off a big weekend at the Black and Gold Invitational at Southern Miss, where she hit .545 with six runs scored and five RBI, Alabama heads into its home opener batting .359 as a team. It ranks second in the SEC and also in slugging percentage (.609), while topping the league in on-base percentage (.477) and fielding percentage (.983).
Easton Bama Bash details
- What: No 10 Alabama (6-1) will play five games over the weekend, weather permitting, including two against No. 9 Florida State (9-3). It’ll also face Georgia State (5-6) twice and Northern Iowa (9-2).
- When: Friday-Sunday
- Where: Rhoads Stadium
- Schedule: Alabama plays Georgia State at 5 p.m. ET., followed by Florida State on Friday. Saturday’s slate features Northern Iowa at 2:30 p.m. ET, followed by Florida State again. On Sunday it plays Georgia State at 2:30 p.m. ET.
- Weather forecast: According to the Weather Channel scattered thunderstorms will move into the area Friday evening, with a 40 percent chance of rain. The chance of rain for Saturday night is 100 percent with heavy rains expected Sunday.
What’s the best way to keep up with the games
Fans have numerous options:
TV: SEC Network+
Radio: 93.3 FM in Tuscaloosa.
Live stats: Will be available for all games.
Twitter updates: @AlabamaSB
What you should know
- Alabama is ranked No. 10 in the latest USA Today/NFCA poll and No. 13 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
- The Crimson Tide could see both of FSU’s starters, junior left-hander Meghan King (4-2, 1.12 ERA) and senior right-hander Kylee Hanson (5-1, 1.14), who previously pitched at Florida Atlantic.
- The Crimson Tide and Seminoles have already had two common opponents. FSU lost to McNeese State, 6-1 on Feb. 20, and split two games with South Alabama, a 3-1 loss and a 14-1 win, the next day. Alabama is 2-0 against those teams.
- The three-headed Alabama pitching staff of senior Alexis Osorio (2-1, 0.78 ERA), freshman Madison Preston (2-0, 0.00), and junior Courtney Gettins (2-0, 0.70 ERA) has only allowed four runs, three earned. That’s the fewest in the SEC, while the staff ERA of 0.54 is fourth. Alabama’s two runs yielded in the loss to No. 8 Baylor last week scored on an infield bloop-single over the pitcher that spun away from the fielders in the first inning.
- Alabama leads the all-time series with Florida State, 5-3. The Seminoles snapped a four-game losing streak during their last meeting, 5-1 in Tuscaloosa on March 2, 2014.
- After this weekend, the Crimson Tide will visit UAB on Tuesday, and travel next weekend to the Husky Classic in Seattle, hosted by No. 1 Washington.