Softball team welcomes new, talented members

Freshman pitcher Sydney Littlejohn said her experienced teammates have helped her easily transition to starting on the Crimson Tide softball team as a freshman, giving her a boost of optimism about what the coming season will bring.

“The girls have welcomed me like nobody has before,” Littlejohn said. “They’re already my sisters.”

Littlejohn, who was a top pitching prospect out of her native Texas when she signed with Alabama, is one of four freshmen on the Alabama roster for this 2014 season, along with Marisa Runyon, Chandler Dare and Peyton Grantham.

Earlier this year, the Crimson Tide’s 2013 season came to a close with a loss to Tennessee at the Knoxville Super Regional, after having won its first national championship at the Women’s College World Series in 2012. This year, hopes for the season run high on the team, with coaches and teammates alike voicing their confidence in player skills and in the young freshmen getting their start this coming spring.

Coach Patrick Murphy, who has led Alabama to 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, eight College World Series appearances and its first NCAA Championship in 2012, said the team welcomes the great variety of talents and skills the rookies have to offer – the batting power of Runyon and Grantham, the physical presence of Littlejohn, the speed of Dare, and the overall versatility and emotional control the freshmen have displayed so far.

In addition to their athletic talents and skills, Murphy said the rookies have done well in getting acclimated to the team.

“They’ve adjusted really well,” Murphy said. “It’s a very easy team to get along with. The upperclassmen are great. They’ve stuck together. I think when a class sticks together, it makes it easier on everybody, so they’ve done a good job with that. Everyone is enjoying having them in the program.”

Junior infielder Danielle Richard said the freshmen on the roster have shown no reservations about coming into practices and scrimmages and showing dedication to playing to their utmost.

“They’ve done so well,” Richard said. “They come in fearless every time, and I love that about them.”

Murphy said the freshmen and the rest of the players on the team will work on their fundamentals through the fall and winter in order to ensure the best performance possible for this season.

“Number one this fall for us has been fundamentals – making the swing as good as it can get, defensive fundamentals, pitching fundamentals,” he said. “These are all the little things that are going to add up to big things in the spring.”

There is also confidence among players that the team can work together to have a successful season.

“We have a lot of fight this year, a lot of determination,” Kallie Case, a sophomore on the team said. “I think that’s one of our big things this year, to just be fearless and just go all out, no matter if we mess up. Just give it 100 percent.”