Deja vu? How similar is this year's Alabama softball team to the 2012 squad that won the national championship?
Alabama softball carries the No. 3 overall seed into the 2021 NCAA Tournament, fresh off the program's sixth SEC Tournament championship, and will host the regional round beginning Friday afternoon.
The Crimson Tide became just the second team in SEC Tournament history to win the event at its home stadium. The other team to accomplish this was the 2012 Alabama team that went on to win the program's first national championship. Alabama beat the Florida Gators in the SEC championship both years and carried the No. 2 overall seed into the 2012 NCAA tournament.
Alabama opens play at the Tuscaloosa Regional on Friday at 5 p.m. against Alabama State.
All info, time, TV and schedule for the regional round: Alabama softball lands No. 3 overall seed, will host NCAA Tournament regional at Rhoads Stadium
"It's been special to be at the Rhoads House to end our season and to be able to host a regional," said coach Patrick Murphy. "The fans behind the dugout and in the Brickyard created a distinct home-field advantage during the SEC Tournament, and I hope it's the same (when regional play begins)."
Here's how the 2021 Crimson Tide resembles the 2012 national championship team:
Dominant at the Rhoads House
Both teams finished the regular season with just seven losses and the top RPI rank.
The Crimson Tide finished the season 33-4 overall at home, 13-3 against ranked opponents and 18-1 against unranked opponents this season.
The 2012 team went 34-4 at Rhoads Stadium, 8-3 against ranked opponents and 26-1 against unranked opponents.
Senior leaders and role players
The 2021 team has seven seniors: Kyrstal Goodman, Sarah Cornell, Alexis Mack, Elissa Brown, Claire Jenkins, Bailey Hemphill and Taylor Clark.
Mack, Hemphill and Brown are ranked in the top 10 in the SEC batting average, and can be found among league leaders in various other categories.
Names like Savannah Woodard, Maddie Morgan and Kaylee Tow don't get the headlines, but Murphy understands what they bring.
"Those two (Clark and Woodard) work as hard as anyone on the team," said Murphy. "They did not pout when they did not play. For Clark to get on all the (SEC) all-tournament team is a feather in her cap. Savannah has led the team in RBIs in the last 14 games. The whole team is proud of them."
The 2012 team had six seniors.
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Led by SEC Pitcher of the Year
Montana Fouts (22-3, 1.55 ERA) was named SEC Co-Pitcher of the Year, SEC Tournament MVP and broke an all-time SEC tournament record for strikeouts this season.
The junior has 16 appearances with 10-plus strikeouts and 11 against SEC opponents. She threw in all three wins last week.
The 2012 team featured All-American Jackie Traina, who won SEC Pitcher of the Year and SEC Tournament MVP during the 2012 season.
Both ace pitchers held opponents to a .186 batting average during the regular season.