Patrick Murphy has a million things racing through his mind this week.
Unfortunately, none of them have to do with planning for an upcoming opponent.
The Alabama softball coach has been holed up at his home, just like most everyone else, lamenting a lost season for Team 24, a team that had such promise.
Murphy is still thinking about starting lineups and pitching rotations, but for the 2021 season.
Who exactly he’ll have to choose from is the question. Alabama has seven seniors on the roster and all have expressed interest in returning next season – provided they are granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA. UA’s seniors are Bailey Hemphill, Claire Jenkins, Sarah Cornell, Elissa Brown, Taylor Clark, Krystal Goodman and graduate transferAlexisMack.
If that happens Alabama is looking at 25 players on the 2021 roster, including five freshman signees – Kat Grill, Tuscaloosa (ACA); Jaala Torrence, Dothan; Bailey Bowling, St. Joseph, Illinois; Alex Salter, Fort Myers, Florida; Kyleigh Haney, Douglasville, Georgia. Abby Doerr, also a 2020 signee, arrived on campus in January and has been a member of the team since February.
“Obviously there are a lot of things to consider with roster sizes and scholarships,” Murphy said during a teleconference with the media Monday. “This year we had a roster of 20. If everybody comes back it would be a roster of 25. That would be the largest roster we have ever had. The SEC has a travel roster of 22 and the NCAA has a travel roster of 20 for regionals and postseason. There would be a lot of issues with that.
“That roster size would increase. I’d have 11 in that freshman class. There has to be some roster management. I’d hate to graduate all 11 in one year, especially if they’re all big contributors. That would be a hell of a loss the next year. That’s why I don’t like to have two pitchers in the same class because if they are really good you lose two studs right away. There is a lot to think about for sure.”
Murphy said Alabama offers 12 scholarships (ranging from full ride to 22 percent) and he hopes the NCAA will carry over the current scholarships for all seven UA seniors and won’t affect the current scholarship pool. The NCAA will make an official decision on whether to grant student-athletes another year of eligibility on March 30.
“That Friday afternoon (with the announcement of the cancellation of the season) there were a lot of tears,” Murphy said. “We weren’t sure what was going to happen and I said, ‘hey, there is a possibility that they could come back and say we’re going to give everybody another year.’
“My thinking is the seniors would get the scholarships they had this year and it doesn’t count against us. I’m hoping that’s what happens. As of now all seven of mine said they would like to come back.
“There is a lot of work with academic stuff. There were a lot of them that were going to be done or close to being done. We have to come up with some ways to get them into some more classes and that’s between me and the academic adviser.”
Even with the influx of players for the 2021 season, Murphy has to consider the future with recruiting. Fortunately for Murphy, five players for the 2021 class are already committed. He can go watch potential recruits this summer for the 2022 class but can’t contact them. The coronavirus pandemic has halted play across the country and the summer playing schedule for recruits is up in the air.
“This summer we were going to begin narrowing down our (2022 class) but it was basically just to watch because you can’t talk to them,” Murphy said. “I don’t know if anyone is going to get to play this summer. It would be difficult – I don’t know how many we have on our (recruit) board but it’s quite a few.”