How Alabama softball has sold out Rhoads Stadium 12 games in 2022 to set attendance records
You might have heard “Rufio, Rufio, Roll Tide Roll," come across a pair of frayed, striped crimson and white overalls in the concourse at Rhoads Stadium or seen a pink sombrero flash above the Crimson's Tide dugout.
You might be lucky enough to snag a general admission seat in the Brickyard outfield seating, or you might not get a ticket at all.
That's the reality for coach Patrick Murphy's Alabama softball program: a chance to see the Crimson Tide in person is becoming increasingly more difficult.
"It is a testament to the product Murphy has put on the field for decades. He has built a loyal fanbase," said Alabama super-fan Emily Pitek, who wears the overalls and sombrero. "The spirit of generosity is really the reason a great crowd keeps showing up each week."
The Crimson Tide (33-6, 10-5 SEC) has played 18 games in 10 dates at home this season, including nine against ranked opponents. Of those, Rhoads Stadium has sold out 12 games, with several road games hitting capacity as well, including at UAB. The cancelled Sand Mountain Showdown in Albertville was also sold out.
Alabama can add to its number of sellouts when it hosts Mississippi State for a three-game series beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday on SEC Network.
Since the 2008 season, Alabama has led the nation in average attendance all but three years, while leading in total attendance every season except 2011.
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Before the 2022 home opener, the Alabama athletics department announced the softball program sold a record 3,200 season tickets.
Murphy is quick to credit the crowd in each postgame news conference, showing his appreciation for what the "Rhoads Ragers" bring.
“I wish I could thank every fan individually. It's just a great atmosphere," Murphy said. "It's a win-win for who ever comes here. (Opponents) get that (NCAA postseason) super regional feeling; We do too, and it's the best environment in college softball."
Murphy has plenty of appreciation for Alabama alum Pitek, who he says is the nicest person he has ever come across.
“She should be on the payroll,” Murphy said. “She’s our ticket broker, head cheer coach and so much more.”
Pitek has taken to social media to ensure seats are filled. When contacted that someone isn't going to use a ticket, she works to get it in the hands of another Alabama fan.
"With 3,200 season tickets sold, it doesn’t leave an abundance of extra tickets for the general fan wanting to come," Pitek said. "The word has got out that if you can’t make it, please donate your tickets so someone who can will fill your seat or spot in the brickyard."
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The UA athletics department placed a student section behind centerfield this season. Rhoads Stadium officials have had to turn hundreds of students away each weekend, according to student booster leader Chad Murdock.
"One thing Murphy emphasized to us before this season was his want for a student section," Murdock said. "The idea of students being turned away at the gate is a wonderful problem to have."
Players have acknowledged the difference fans make.
"It's been so much fun, it helps that we have so many people in the crowd," freshman infielder Jenna Lord said. "We've got the best fans in the country, and they are so loud the entire game."
Here is the schedule for the series against Mississippi State:
Game 1: 5 p.m. CT Thursday (SEC Network)
Game 2: 6 p.m. CT Friday
Game 3: 4 p.m. CT Saturday (SEC Network)
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