Demi Turner’s white visor is stained brown with dirt.
The Alabama softball team’s senior second baseman has accumulated it from sliding into bases and diving for balls.
“I haven’t washed it in four years,” she says, then corrects herself. “I think I might have washed it once.”
Most of that dirt has come from the field at Rhoads Stadium, in practices and in games. Her days on that field are drawing to a close.
The 17th-ranked Crimson Tide hosts ninth-ranked Texas A&M this weekend, starting with a 7 p.m. game Friday, to close out the regular season. It might mark Turner’s last time on that dirt.
“I love it,” Turner said. “I take it home with me. It’s in our locker, my cleats, my socks, just everywhere. We have to get the vacuums out. I’m going to miss it, that’s for sure.
“That’s like home; that’s my second home out there. That’s all I know.”
Alabama is playing for the chance to play on that dirt for one more weekend. The Crimson Tide is on the bubble of hosting one of 16 regionals in the NCAA Tournament. Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Baylor and Kentucky are rated between 14 and 18, with Alabama at No. 16, in the latest official NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) ratings, a key component in seeding.
The top 16 seeds will host regionals. Winning the series against the Aggies would go a long way to toward securing one of those spots.
“This is a huge opportunity,” UA coach Patrick Murphy said. “It would be a great series win at home, senior weekend.
“There’s a lot riding on it. Seeding implications, regional host, all that stuff. This is a big, big weekend.”
Turner remembers the first time she ran onto that field as a freshman.
“It was in the fall, there weren’t even that many fans here and I thought it was like the biggest stadium in the world,” she said. “That adrenaline, that rush it gives you and the butterflies it gives you, I’m going to miss all of that, that fun with our team.”
Turner has left a lot of herself on the field. Whether this is her last weekend to play on it or if she gets another chance in a regional, she’s happy for what she has left on it.
“I would hope all of me is still out there, I hope it stays within the program and I can be a light for someone else,” she said. “I look up to (former UA stars) Brittany Rogers, Haylie McCleney and others just because of the way they played the game, and I hope one day that people will do that with me.”
Reach Tommy Deas at email@example.com or at 205-722-0224.
No. 9 Texas A&M at No. 17 Alabama
Where: Rhoads Stadium
Schedule: 7 p.m. Friday, noon Saturday, 1:30 p.m. Sunday
Records: Alabama 29-17, 9-12 SEC; Texas A&M 40-12, 13-8 SEC
TV: SEC Network (Friday and Saturday only)
Radio: 93.3 FM