Alabama softball senior catcher Regan Dykes has always considered herself a forceful person, someone who tells everyone what they need to know to get back on their game.
So when junior pitcher Sarah Cornell was struggling earlier this season Dykes approached her with a tough attitude.
Cornell took the advice, but later told her she preferred a different approach when she was struggling. This was a learning experience for both of them and was all part of a challenge Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy issued at the start of the season, a challenge he hopes pays dividends for his squad down the stretch.
“In the fall, we challenged Bailey (Hemphill) and Reagan, to take each pitcher out, individually, at some point in the semester, preferably more than once, to really get to know how they think and tick,” Murphy said. “We wanted them to find out if they want a pat on the bat, a kick in the but or want them to tell a joke.”
The Crimson Tide has five pitchers on the roster, each with a specific way they like to be encouraged when they are going through a rough patch. Dykes said she feels their outings early in the season and their strong friendships have contributed heavily to their success this season.
“Some of my best friends are some of the pitchers,” Dykes said. “We hang out a lot outside of required events we have to do. All seven of us get along as a group as well as individually.”
The strong relationship between the Tide’s pitchers and catchers has helped push them to a 46-4 record and the No. 3 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
Four of the Tide’s five pitchers are new to the team. Senior Courtney Gettins is the only Tide pitcher who has played one previous season in Tuscaloosa after she transferred from Florida Southwestern last season. The New Zealand native has played on many different teams with many catchers but feels Hemphill and Dykes are great at knowing what they need to hear.
“They read us as players and as people very well,” Gettins said. “They know how we are and what we need. They know what they need to tell us to be more successful. We all are great friends and it translates onto the field.”
Struggles have hit Alabama’s pitcher’s staff in many ways. Freshman Montana Fouts went down with an injury and missws three weeks of action. Murphy has also had pull pitchers when they are not having their best day. The one thing that has remained constant is the connection between Alabama’s pitchers and catchers.
The Crimson Tide hosts Kentucky this weekend for their final regular-season home series this weekend. The first game is Friday at Rhoads Stadium at 6:30 p.m.