Despite a monkey on the back growing heavier every year, Alabama softball finally broke through, “finished It,” and won the 2012 national championship.
Then came the time to revel in the glory for a few months … or only once.
When asked how many times he watched the championship game from start to finish, Alabama coach Patrick Murphy answered, “That morning in the hotel, about 4:30 in the morning.”
“After the celebration had ended, somebody said, ‘Let’s watch the game.’ So we turned it on and that was probably the only time I’ve seen the full game,” he said. “We’ve watched the highlights many, many times.”
Now the Crimson Tide is looking to add to the highlight reel — and the trophy case — by going for national championship No. 2.
“I don’t think there is any championship hangover in this group,” Murphy said. “Not with a senior like Kayla Braud leading the way. She won’t allow it to happen.”
Braud said she is having trouble sleeping at night in excitement for the season’s start, and even more excited to play against a team not composed of her teammates.
“I’m tired of facing Jackie Traina and Leslie Jury over and over again,” she said. “I don’t want to do that. I feel bad for the teams that play us.”
Junior shortstop Kaila Hunt added, “We were just talking about it. We had two intrasquad scrimmages, Friday and Saturday, and we were talking about how we finally get to play against somebody other than ourselves.”
With nothing else to win, Alabama is forced to do one of sport’s most difficult tasks and repeat as champion. But this isn’t a response to outside pressure.
“I don’t think they could be higher from ourselves because that’s what we always wanted, that’s the one thing we hadn’t done,” Murphy said. “I don’t think the pressure will be greater than what we put on ourselves, because that’s always been our goal and now it’s to win another one.”
Contributed by Brett Hudson
Video of Murphy and his players talking about the upcoming season: