Patrick Murphy remembers May 18, 2007.
He remembers the game. He remembers the score. The head coach of the Alabama softball team remembers losing to Tennessee Tech, 4-2, in NCAA regional play.
That was the last time the Crimson Tide lost in a regional. Alabama will take a streak of 34 consecutive regional victories into the Tuscaloosa Regional, which starts Friday.
Alabama, the No. 12 national seed, will host Middle Tennessee State at Rhoads Stadium at 8:30 p.m. It will mark the 14th year in a row that UA has hosted a regional in the 64-year national championship tournament.
“No pressure,” freshman outfielder Kaylee Tow said with a laugh.
Said fellow outfielder Elissa Brown, a sophomore: “We always say pressure is a privilege, so we just want to keep the streak alive and keep the tradition going.”
Alabama set a national average attendance record in 2018 at 3,043 per game. The long winning streak in postseason play begins with playing at home, Murphy said.
“It starts, No. 1, with our fans,” he said. “They’re a big reason why we’re here, without a doubt. If they’re not as loud and proud and in force, we wouldn’t be here, because I think we’ve won about 88 percent of our games at home. … It’s a big-time deal to have a home-field advantage in postseason softball.”
To keep the regional winning streak going, Alabama will need to win three games in three days, against Middle Tennessee State and Oregon State or Wisconsin – or possibly both, depending on how the bracket plays out.
The key is sticking with the familiar, Murphy said.
“Do the things that got you there … and be aggressive,” he said. “You’ve got to push the envelope and make them make plays.”
The Crimson Tide played through ups and downs this season. As late as a couple of weekends ago, hosting a regional wasn’t a sure thing. Alabama won five straight games against ranked teams starting late in the regular season and into the SEC Tournament, ending with a victory over Auburn in the league tourney.
“There was a lot of pressure this year,” Murphy said. “I think I felt it more than ever, but the way they performed down the stretch, we earned the spot. … I think at the very end we had the right people in the right spot in the lineup. That was the key.
“Right now I think everybody’s in the right spot in the lineup and they are performing at a good level.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.
At Rhoads Stadium
Game 1, Wisconsin (28-21) vs. Oregon State (28-26), 6 p.m.
Game 2, Middle Tennessee State (39-20) vs. Alabama (33-18), 8:30 p.m.
Game 3, Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 1:30 p.m.
Game 4, Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 4 p.m.
Game 5, Winner Game 4 vs. Loser Game 3, 6:30 p.m.
Game 6, Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 5, 1:30 p.m.
Game 7, if necessary, 4 p.m.
Radio: 93.3 FM (Alabama games only)