Gabby Callaway learned right before Alabama softball’s season opener she was going to be batting cleanup.
“Be ready for it,” UA coach Patrick Murphy said. “Don’t be nervous.”
She struck out looking her first time at bat. The next time she drove in a run on a groundout that resulted in her getting into a rundown. The sophomore outfielder from Mobile, who lived in San Diego when Alabama recruited her, is batting .400 with two doubles, a triple and six RBIs seven games into the season.
No. 10 Alabama in Easton Bama Bash
Where: Rhoads Stadium
Schedule: Friday vs. Georgia State 4 p.m., vs. No. 7 Florida State 6 p.m.; Saturday vs.
Northern Iowa 1:30 p.m., vs. No. 7 Florida State 4 p.m.; Sunday vs. Georgia State 1:30
Records: Alabama 6-1, Florida State 9-3, Northern Iowa 9-2, Georgia State 5-6
Radio: 93.3 FM
She’ll be batting in the power part of the Crimson Tide’s lineup this weekend when 10th-ranked Alabama hosts No. 7 Florida State, Northern Iowa and Georgia State in the Bama Bash.
And Murphy is counting on her.
“From Sept. 4 (last fall) when we started hitting she’s probably one of the most consistent,” the coach said, “and I was really proud of her when we did this get-to-know-me-sheet. I asked what they kind of wanted to be remembered by this season or if they could pick a perfect role, what would it be? And hers was ‘a consistent RBI producer.’
“That’s what I was hoping somebody would put, because that’s the key to me to score runs is to get somebody that’s consistent with their RBIs.”
As a freshman Callaway batted .274, but it wasn’t a consistent number. She hit hot and cold.
“Just mentally I feel really locked in this year,” she said. “It seems like there’s a lot less pressure. I know that pressure, you just put it on yourself as a freshman; you want to get a starting job so bad.
“As a freshman I kind of felt like if I didn’t produce that was like the end of my chance, but looking back it was obvious you’re going to keep getting at-bats because we need all 19 (players). I think that’s what I brought this year, just knowing that it takes everybody.”
Murphy wants this team – Callaway included – to learn how to come through when scoring opportunities arise. Alabama beat a ranked McNeese State team (that upset Florida State earlier this week) last weekend but sustained its first loss, 2-1 to ranked Baylor.
“We had five chances with runners in scoring position and just didn’t get a hit,” Murphy said. “We had them on, we just didn’t score them.”
Callaway wants to be the RBI machine this team needs.
“In the box, I think I’ve become a better hitter with two strikes,” she said. “(Assistant coach Alyson Habetz) talks a lot about having a plan at the plate; this year it’s been easier for me to commit to that plan, know what pitches I’m got at hitting and be able to foul off everything she’s throwing until I get that right pitch.
“I feel like I’m more adaptable this year. I’ve made better adjustments.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.