Tide looks to season its youth

Cyrus Ntakirutinka

The No. 8 Alabama softball team will participate in the Stetson Hatter invitational Friday, in hopes of building on Tuesday’s win over South Alabama.

With a 2-2 record, the Crimson Tide looks to begin finding the keys to success early in the season. Head coach Patrick Murphy said he and his staff will be looking to get a better look at the talent on the roster.

“[Looking] for just consistency up and down the line up,” Murphy said. “Good pitching, just play good defense and put the ball in play is going to be the number one thing this weekend.”

The Tide will play three teams through the weekend, including Rhode Island, Stetson and 14th-ranked Ohio State. Alabama will enter the tournament with confidence stemming from a tough 1-2 series loss to the then-ninth-ranked Missouri Tigers and a bounce back win against South Alabama. Murphy said he feels the experience gained from facing Missouri’s top pitcher at the start to the schedule will benefit the Tide in the long run.

“[Missouri] is probably as good as anyone right now,” Murphy said. “And I think that pitcher is going to prepare us for later on. I know Ohio State has two good pitchers, they’re a super regional team from last year, probably should have been in the World Series. It’s going to be a good matchup.”

Despite losing several prominent seniors from last year’s squad, Alabama has received contributions from the young players who make up a large part of the roster. Murphy said the amount of young talent is vital in the team’s success.

“There are so many options that we have,” Murphy said. “It’s one of the deepest teams we have. We probably have two people at every position and we would feel okay with whoever is out there. Against South Alabama it was a totally different lineup than Missouri. It was a fun team to watch. We just want consistent efforts out of everybody.”

A couple seniors on the team have stepped up in the leadership role, but Murphy said none more than Whitney Larsen, who hit a critical homerun in the Tide’s victory over South Alabama. Larsen said she hopes the team, especially the younger players, can take something from this weekend’s tournament. The senior leader said she could sum it up in one word — “Experience. I think we’re very young. In one game, we only had one senior and one junior starting. I think we’ll get some good reps in and get to see different live pitchers. Experience is a key when it comes to Division-I softball, and I think we definitely have the talent, and this experience will help us a lot.”

Murphy said he hopes the tough competition will keep helping the team grow as the season progresses.

“Hopefully it’s going to be a confidence booster beating a good team in Ohio State, and Stetson is a good team, too,” he said.