Patrick Murphy can look at the calendar and know it’s time.
Time for the University of Alabama softball team to get on a roll, time to gather some momentum for the postseason. And UA is running out of time to solidify its opportunity to host a regional in the NCAA Tournament.
So the clock is running.
“I’d love to win seven games in a row to end the (regular) season,” said Murphy, Alabama’s head coach. “It’s been a crazy year in the SEC. Anybody can beat anybody.
“We have two really good opponents in Ole Miss and Auburn who can help us.”
No. 13 Alabama visits 20th-ranked Ole Miss for a three-game series that starts Saturday. The Crimson Tide hosts ninth-ranked Auburn next weekend to close out the regular season.
Alabama was won just two of its last six games – against Samford and UAB, while losing two games apiece to ranked Washington and Tennessee teams – and has gone 5-5 over its last 10 outings.
In the official NCAA RPI (ratings percentage index) rankings, Alabama is at No. 14. The RPI is a component used by the committee that seeds teams for the NCAA Tournament, and the top 16 teams will host regionals.
“I want to get on a roll here,” Murphy said. “This is big for us. Even though Washington is a great team, Tennessee is a great team, we need to beat some of these teams.”
Senior outfielder Chandler Dare has finished up her schoolwork and will graduate with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average. She can now concentrate solely on softball.
“It’s kind of set home that this is my last SEC away series,” she said. “I’m definitely not ready for it to end. I’m enjoying my time here and soaking it all in.
“I think it’s super important, especially heading into postseason, you want to have that confidence and momentum on your side.”
Murphy is hopeful that the 8-1 midweek victory at Samford will provide a spark. Alabama has struggled offensively, and had a good outing at the plate.
“It felt like old Alabama softball,” he said.
The coaching staff has tried to make things easier on the hitters.
“Clear your mind, see the ball, hit the ball, keep it simple,” he said.
Second baseman Demi Turner, who has been out of the lineup since sustaining a fractured orbital bone when she was hit in the face with a ball at the first of the month, will not play this weekend. Turner, who was batting a team-best .387 with 17 stolen bases, has done some throwing drills and hit off a tee but is not cleared yet to play.
No. 13 Alabama at No. 20 Ole Miss
Where: Ole Miss Softball Complex in Oxford, Miss.
Schedule: Saturday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., Monday at 6 p.m.
Records: Alabama 38-11, 10-7 SEC; Ole Miss 32-16, 6-12 SEC
TV: SEC Network (Sunday and Monday only)
Radio: 93.3 FM