Alabama softball has qualified for the NCAA Tournament 21 straight seasons and will be hosting a regional tournament for the 15th straight this weekend.
The Tuscaloosa Regional starts Friday at Rhoads Stadium with A-SUN champ Lipscomb taking on Arizona State at 3 p.m. and Alabama State playing the Crimson Tide at 5:30 p.m.
With the No. 8 overall seed for the playoffs, Alabama is assured of hosting a super regional next week if it can win the regional this weekend.
“I’m glad we’re at home,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “That was the ultimate goal for the last two years (earning a top-eight seed) – we didn’t want to go on the road. We have to take care of business in the first round and obviously we would get to play at home (for super regional). But we have to win the first round.
Alabama has won 49 regional tournament games in Tuscaloosa, including 37 straight, but it’s one particular loss Murphy remembers well.
“We are going to respect the hell out of everybody that comes here,” Murphy said. “That’s been our mantra since we’ve hosted because you don’t want to look past somebody. The last time we did that we lost (2007) to a really good Tennessee Tech team. It was a Friday night, I can remember it.”
Hosting a super regional is even more important, given Alabama’s history. Five times the Crimson Tide has traveled for a super regional, including the last two, and was one just once (2005). When Alabama has hosted a super regional (nine times) it has won all but one (2010).
“It’s a huge advantage for us,” Alabama catcher Reagan Dykes said. “Rhoads Stadium is always a packed house no matter what team we are competing against. (The fans) really love us. With the energy they bring, that really motivates us to give it our best.”