Despite success, Traina looking to improve in 3rd year

Not many softball players around the nation can boast the type of success Alabama ace pitcher Jackie Traina had in 2012.

Traina achieved a laundry list of historic accomplishments for Alabama last season, including being named an NFCA All-American for the second consecutive season, the SEC Pitcher of the Year, SEC Tournament MVP and Most Outstanding Player of the 2012 Women’s College World Series.

She also led the nation with a 42-3 record, a school record, and set another school record with 361 strikeouts. Traina eventually finished the season with a 1.87 ERA, helping lead the Tide to its first national title.

But for all Traina’s accomplishments last season, she said she feels she still has room to improve from last year in multiple areas.

“I think there’s always room to get better,” Traina said. “You could always get better, either in little things or big things.”

One area Traina said she’d worked on during the offseason was her batting average. While Traina certainly had power behind her bat, she said she felt she could improve in how often she hit the ball. Traina finished last season with a .319 percentage, 10 home runs and 37 RBIs.

“That was another thing I wanted to improve on this year,” Traina said. “Just stay consistent, I guess, hitting as well.”

One of the biggest things Traina said she wanted to improve on was her leadership ability. Traina said she began her career at Alabama more relaxed, but she would like to take on a more active role in leading her team.

Still, Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said he’s already seen Traina trying to become a more active leader. Murphy said he saw this at a team-building weekend in the fall, where Traina and her fellow juniors realized they were next in line to be leaders.

“It’s tough to go from a freshman, sophomore, kind of laid back, ‘the seniors are going to get it done,’ sort of thing,” Murphy said. “Now it’s their time to step into that role. It’s a fun process to watch as a coach.”

That’s not to say Traina doesn’t follow the examples set by her older teammates.

“I think you always can learn a few things from an upperclassman,” Traina said. “Obviously, they’re a year before you, and they’ve got one more year where they’ve played the collegiate level.”

One of those seniors, infielder Courtney Conley, said she’s already seen vast improvement from Traina since she first arrived. Much like Murphy, Conley said she can see Traina continue to grow into her role as a leader on the team.

“I know she was working on being a leader last year,” Conley said. “And she wanted to push [Lauren Sewell] and [Leslie Jury,] and show them the ropes of the bullpen. I think this year, she’s kind of taken the role of another leader on the team.”

Conley said Traina’s type of leadership was largely unseen, however.

“It’s behind-the-scenes leadership that Jackie does,” Conley said. “And obviously, on the field we look to her, because she’s the pitcher.”

Even with all the ways Traina has tried to improve, however, she said what will ultimately help make this year successful is the entire team, not just herself.

“We’ve been there once,” Traina said. “We know how to get there; we know what it takes to win.”

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