Patrick Murphy had the ingredients. It just took Alabama’s softball coach some time to put them together.
There were injuries up and down the lineup and occasional shake-ups in the batting order. The coach of the Crimson Tide would see flashes of what his squad could be, then see it unravel the next day.
Going into the Seattle Super Regional, which begins Friday, Alabama seems to have the right mix. It’s playing its best ball of the season at the right time.
The winner of the best-of-three series between the 12th-seeded Crimson Tide and fifth-seeded Washington advances to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. It will take pitching, hitting, and defense.
“We might have been hitting on two out of three or one out of three,” Murphy said. “Now I think it’s pretty much all three.”
Alabama swept through the Tuscaloosa Regional, winning over Middle Tennessee State, Wisconsin, and Oregon State by a combined score of 23-1.
“I think our confidence is just through the roof night now,” first baseman Bailey Hemphill said. “Our offense is doing great, our pitching is doing great, everything seems to be clicking right now. In February and March it seemed to be one was working, one wasn’t. I feel like everything is coming together and working for us.”
The players are feeling it.
“I feel like now we’re all coming together and we’re all trusting the process,” said senior ace pitcher Alexis Osorio, who allowed one run and two walks with 16 strikeouts in 12 innings in the regional.
The Crimson Tide believes it’s a different team than the one that went to Seattle in early March and lost 8-0 and 4-1 to Washington, which was undefeated and ranked No. 1 at the time.
Osorio didn’t pitch well in the mercy-rule loss in the first game, and Alabama didn’t hit.
“It was a Friday night, it was cold; it just wasn’t a good game for anybody,” Murphy said. “We didn’t have anything going and we just didn’t do anything.”
The second loss was different. It was tied, 1-1, going into the fifth inning. Pitcher Courtney Gettins limited the Huskies to six hits.
“They got the key hit,” Murphy said. “They played great that weekend.”
Oregon State coach Laura Berg has seen Alabama and Washington up close. Her Beavers lost to the Crimson Tide in the regional final and was swept in a three-game series by the Huskies in Pac-12 play.
“It’s going to be a battle between both teams,” she said. “They both have speed. They both have power. They both have a couple of pitchers in the circle that can take care of business. So it’s going to be coming down to the ones that get the timely hit and take care of the ball.”
Alabama is playing too well of late to dwell on those early-March games.
“Since we are peaking at the right time,” center fielder Elissa Brown said, “we’re just going in there attacking them and trusting each other.”
Well, the Crimson Tide hasn’t completely forgotten those previous meetings.
“We’re excited,” first baseman Bailey Hemphill said. “We feel like we owe them.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.
Seattle Super Regional
Who: No. 12 Alabama at No. 5 Washington
Where: Husky Softball Stadium in Seattle
Schedule: Friday at 8 p.m. CT, Saturday at 6 p.m. CT, Sunday (if necessary) at 6 p.m. CT
Records: Alabama 36-18, Washington 47-8
TV: ESPNU on Friday and Sunday (if necessary), ESPN2 on Saturday
Radio: 93.3 FM