SEC TOURNAMENT
Alabama vs. Georgia or Ole Miss
When: 4 p.m.
Where: College Station, Texas
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 93.3 FM


Eighth.

Back in February, that’s where the Alabama softball team was predicted to finish in the SEC standings. Florida was picked to win, followed by Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, Arkansas, LSU, Kentucky, and finally you get to Alabama.

Here it is three months later with Alabama starting play in the SEC Tournament as the regular-season league champs with the No. 1 seed.

Alabama, No. 4 in the nation, plays the winner of Georgia vs. Arkansas on Thursday at 4 p.m. in College Station, Texas.

Don’t think Alabama players and coaches simply dismissed the No. 8 prediction.

“There is a big, fat No. 8 poster that’s been on the bulletin board in the clubhouse since Feb. 15,” said Alabama coach Patrick Murphy, who was just named the SEC Coach of the Year. “It’s been a motivating factor. We have been in first since the beginning.”

The poster seems to have worked.

“We walk into the clubhouse every single day and are reminded of it,” senior center fielder Elissa Brown said. “We just use it as fuel. We are proving everyone wrong and showing everyone what we can do. It’s really awesome the way we are performing right now.

“From the beginning we knew that this team was special. We got a lot of transfers and freshman this season and we just mix very well. We all like each other. We are just a bunch of friends. That has transferred all the way through the season. We are really proud of how we are performing with each other.”

Alabama (50-6, 18-6 SEC) bolted out of the gate this season with a school record 33 straight wins. Led by seniors Reagan Dykes (catcher), Courtney Gettins (pitcher), Merris Schroder (outfield) and Caroline Hardy (utility), the Crimson Tide has established itself as a contender this postseason.

“Our senior class has done a hell of a job,” Murphy said. “Courtney has kept the bullpen in check and Reagan has kept everyone else in check. That’s been the key to the whole season, those two. When you have good leadership and everyone respects them, our job’s easy because they are taking care of the hard stuff behind the scenes.”

The big picture now is playoffs. Alabama needs to have a strong showing in the SEC Tournament for a shot at a top-eight seed. Alabama is No. 7 in the RPI rankings.

“…The games in the tournament plays a bigger role in a top eight seed,” Murphy said. “We are right on the edge. “Whoever you play on those last three days (of the SEC Tournament) it’s going to be a boost for your RPI. (SEC) tournament is like a World Series except it’s one and done. That’s kind of the fun part of it. You have to play well to advance and hopefully it’s going to help us down the stretch.”

 

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