Alabama opened fall softball practice with seven new faces on the 18-player roster, but four of them got a head start when the Crimson Tide toured Japan for four games in the summer.
Three-a-day practices, weight room sessions, pitcher bullpens and batting-cage work gave outfielders Kloyee Anderson and Kayla Davis and pitchers Montana Fouts and Krystal Goodman a chance to indoctrinate themselves into the program.
“That was such a huge blessing for us because it was a trip of a lifetime, but also getting those three weeks together we have our team chemistry, we’re already there,” junior Bailey Hemphill said. “We’ve known each other all summer.
“They’ve gotten to know what practices are like. I feel like we’re ahead of the curve already. We had three that didn’t come, but (this fall) it was easy for them to just follow us. We didn’t have to teach what we do on the first day of practice. We were able to get right into it.”
Infielder Skylar Wallace – a freshman like Anderson, Davis and Fouts – spent her summer winning a national championship with her travel-ball team. Taylor Clark, an infielder from Virginia Tech, and Sarah Cornwell, a pitcher from Hofstra, are transfer players who didn’t arrive in time to make the Japan trip.
Catcher Reagan Dykes is out for the fall after undergoing surgery. First baseman Hemphill, who spent some time behind the plate in her previous two years, and senior Caroline Hardy, who was a catcher in high school, are taking over that role. They are working with returnees Courtney Gettins and Madison Preston along with Fouts, Cornwell and Goodman, a junior college transfer.
“Having three new pitchers, it’s different,” Hemphill said. “I’ve always like catching, just getting into it is fun.”
Head coach Patrick Murphy wants to see the pitchers in action in fall exhibition play. He will also be mixing and matching players at second base, third and shortstop, where UA has holes to fill.
“And basically seeing what the newbies can do up to bat,” Murphy said. “I’m going to do the same thing I’ve always done, which is have eight different lineups and see what somebody can do.”
Exhibition play opens Sunday at Rhoads Stadium against Auburn-Montgomery in the the first of four doubleheaders, starting at 1:30 p.m. UA hosts West Alabama on Friday, Oct. 12, Wallace State two days later at 1:30 and plays a split twinbill on Oct. 23 against Marion Military Institute at 5 p.m. followed by Shelton State at 7.
Reach Tommy Deas at email@example.com or at 205-722-0224.