Patrick Murphy, Alabama’s head softball coach, canceled practice Tuesday due to the weather.

The Crimson Tide, which started drills last week, got to go outside the day before. It was a rare occurrence for this preseason.

“I keep all my practice plans,” Murphy said, “and last year I think opening day was 72 (degrees) and sunny. I had a big sun symbol on the practice plan.

“Not this year.”

Those snow clouds, however, have had a silver lining.

“We’re lucky that we’ve got the great facilities that we do,” the coach said, “because we can do the whole infield/outfield at the indoor football facility and then come over (to the softball complex) and hit. That wasn’t the case six years ago.

“Can’t hit live, really. We can do it in the cage, but it’s not the same. I like to see the ball off the bat, where it goes and how far it goes. And then, obviously, the dirt with the ground balls because I don’t think we’re playing on turf this year.
“We’ll be fine. We started early, too. I think this is actually the first year that we’ve started the day school started.”

Alabama returns regular starters Reagan Dykes at catcher, Bailey Hemphill at first base, Sydney Booker at shortstop, Demi Turner at second base and Peyton Grantham at third base, as well as outfielders Elissa Brown and Merris Schroder and ace pitcher Alexis Osorio. Several other part-time starters are bolstered by an incoming class of newcomers that includes freshmen Kaylee Tow, KB Sides and Madison Preston, as well as junior college pitcher Courtney Gettins, who is from New Zealand.

Alabama finished 46-18 with a run to the super regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s just a new group of girls so we’re building a new group chemistry that we all work together and have the same goals and the same goal-set at the end of the season,” said Dykes, a junior. “So far we’re clicking fast. The freshmen have really bought into what our team is about and what we want to do this year, so I think so far it’s so good.”

The team isn’t letting the weather stand in the way of preseason progress.

“It’s been cold out here,” Dykes said, “but we use the indoor football field and Coach Murphy has had the practice plan done and it’s like we haven’t missed a beat. We’re still doing our drills, we’re fielding and hitting and we’re getting the most done that we can right now.”

Alabama opens Feb. 8 at South Alabama.