Let’s make this perfectly clear: Demi Turner has been cleared to practice with the Alabama softball team this fall.
The senior infielder from Huntsville, Texas, missed 15 games last season after being hit in the face with a ball in late May. She returned for the end of UA’s season, which came at the Gainesville (Fla.) Regional when the Crimson Tide dropped two out of three to Florida.
The previous year, the career .400 hitter missed almost half the season when she hyperextended her elbow on an attempted steal.
She’s happy to be healthy again.
“Finally 100 percent clear,” she said Tuesday before UA’s first fall practice.
Her bat was missed during the stretch run of a 46-18 campaign last spring, with Alabama falling just short of a fourth straight appearance in the Women’s College World Series.
“I think we have a chip on our shoulder this year for sure, especially after last year,” Turner said. “The freshmen have really bought into that. They don’t want to see that happen again with this program, because it shouldn’t.
“Everyone is trying to get after it right now and do anything they can to do that.”
That includes head coach Patrick Murphy. He went out in search of answers to help fix UA’s hitting problems.
“I visited a couple of places this summer and talked to a bunch of people just to kind of refresh, I guess,” he said. “I came home with a lot of cool stuff, some new drills and just some good philosophy stuff. We’re going to try it.
“It’s not going to be an all-or-nothing thing. I still think good hitting is contagious and bad hitting is contagious, and unfortunately in about a seven- to eight-week stretch last year bad hitting was contagious. I’m hoping that doesn’t happen again, because it was miserable.”
What Murphy most wants to get out of the fall is a hitter with some pop who can fill the third spot in the batting order.
“I don’t care if it’s a freshman or a senior,” he said. “We haven’t had one of those for a couple of years where when she got up to bat, everybody was like, ‘Uh oh, what’s she going to do this time?’ I think we have some possibilities.”
That won’t be Turner’s role. She bats first or second, to best utilize her speed. In addition to a deft hand with the bat, she has stolen 47 career bases despite all the missed time.
She’s ready to get back on the practice field.
“I’m not even looking at it like my last fall,” she said. “I’m taking it one day at a time and coming in as excited as if it’s my first day and I just got on campus. I’m just excited to get started.”
UA will host four doubleheaders in October at Rhoads Stadium: Friday, Oct. 13 vs. Mobile College at 5 p.m.; Sunday, Oct. 15, vs. Wallace-Hanceville at 1:30; Friday, Oct. 20, vs. Shelton State at 5 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 22, vs. Auburn-Montgomery at 1:30 p.m.
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.