By Justin Smith
Special to Tidesports
Alabama is knocking the competition and softballs out the park during the most historic start in school history.
The No. 3 Crimson Tide has belted 46 home runs, which is tied with Georgia for the SEC lead, and is on pace to hit 84 before everything is said and done. The Crimson Tide averaged 62 home runs over the last four seasons, which means this year’s squad could crush that average. Senior, Bailey Hemphill, leads the Tide with 13 home runs.
The single-season UA record is 104, set by the 2010 squad. Alabama hit 97 homers in 2012 and 91 in 2011.
Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said he feels the success is due to the competition his players see when they battle the coaching staff at practice.
“Our graduate assistant manager and our volunteer assistant were both pitchers in college,” Murphy said. “Every single day our players get to see a different pitch and it is a live one. That was one of the things we decided to do this fall. We did not just want to throw 40 feet, just hit me over fastballs, but really challenge them and now we are seeing the results of that.”
Nine Alabama players have hit home runs en route to a 31-0 record. The team spent spring break in Honolulu, Hawaii, at the Rainbow Wahine Classic and its success continued with 12 home runs in the six-game series.
“Our thing is we have to keep things simple,” senior catcher Reagan Dykes said. “We want to see ball, hit ball. We do not want to overthink anything. One key thing Coach Murphy wanted us to do this year was to be present with every pitch. This has really helped. We see the ball well and are swinging at good pitches.”
With s win against SIUE in Hawaii, the Tide secured their spot in the record book with the best start in program history. The previous record was 27 games set in 2001. They celebrated by tossing a couple of cupcakes toward Murphy, who feels it is important to reflect on these types of moments.
“Anytime you get to make history is cool,” Murphy said. “You want to celebrate that. I told them that everyone on this roster is going to go down as the best start in our history. I was very proud of them.”
With the Tide being the only remaining undefeated Division I team in the nation, they will travel to Texas A&M this weekend to take on the Aggies. Dykes, who has played against the Aggies for three seasons, knows Aggie nation will be behind their team 100 percent.
“Going into A&M, we know that they have a new stadium and they are hype about that,” Dykes said. “They are kind of on a low right now, but we know they are going to try to pick it up. They are going to bring the atmosphere and crowd that Texas A&M always brings. They are big on tradition.”
The Aggies will host the Tide for the first game of the series on Friday at 6 p.m.