When Elissa Brown gets on base you don‘t have to be a genius to figure out what is going to happen next.
The Alabama senior outfielder is going to steal second base. Brown, an preseason All-SEC softball selection, swiped 48 bases last year and had 109 for her career.
The UA record for stolen bases is 198 (Brittany Rogers), which, in all likelihood, won‘t be broken by Brown. She was, however, just 12 stolen bases away from tying Rogers’ record for most stolen bases in a season (60).
“I‘m just going to try for as many as I can,” she said. “One thing Murph (head coach Patrick Murphy) says is if you’re afraid to get thrown out you are not going to get very far. So this year I‘m going to be fearless and going after it.”
Brown and the Crimson Tide open the season this weekend in Tallahassee, Florida, at the Joanne Graf Classic with Florida State and North Carolina.
That single-season stolen base record is within reach. Brown has the green light to steal bases whenever she gets on base.
What: Joanne Graf Classic
Where: Tallahassee, Florida
UA Friday: vs. North Carolina at noon CT, vs. Florida State at 5 p.m.
UA Saturday: vs. FSU 2 p.m., vs. UNC 5:30 p.m.
Radio: 93.3 FM
Getting on base is something Brown had issues with in 2019 due to the ’out of the box‘ rule. If a player steps anywhere outside the batter’s box she is called out.
It happened to Brown several times last year, including four times from the leadoff position in the Super Regionals against Texas.
“I need the leadoff hitter to have about a .420 on-base percentage,” Murphy said. “Last year she was right at .380, which is better. But for her to stay in the leadoff we need to have her stay in the box to begin with, with the out-of-the-box rule, and then get on (base) at about .420. If she can do that she can stay in the leadoff spot because she‘s going to steal second base.
Brown has been working with Murphy and assistant coach Alyson Habetz on keeping her feet in the box with some help from a blue mat placed outside the batter‘s box. If she touches the mat that’s an out.
“I try not to worry about not stepping out of the box because the umpires could call it either way at any time,” Brown said. “I trust that I can stay in the box as best I can. The mat did help. It‘s all about where your foot lands and how your body is turned. I’m thankful for that blue mat.”
Brown isn‘t the only ’green-light‘ player on the roster. KB Sides stole 22 bases last season and Skylar Wallace was a perfect 18-for-18 on steals. The Crimson Tide picked up Oregon graduate transfer Alexis Mack, who stole 24 bases in 2018 before sitting out the 2019 season.
Brown had an immediate bond with Mack.
“Alexis Mack is a great addition to this team,” Brown said. “We are also roommates so we talk about the game a lot. We do a lot of things together so we can pick off each other and learn our strengths and weaknesses. It‘s really cool to have someone on the same wavelength as me.”
Reach Edwin Stanton at 205-722-0226, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @edwinstantonu2