The Battle Plan

May 23, 2014

A Fitting Tribute to Derrick Thomas


We are pleased to report that former Alabama linebacker Derrick Thomas will be inducted into the 2014 class of the College Football Hall of Fame on December 9th at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Derrick had a legendary career at Alabama, where he was one of the most dominant linebackers to ever play his position. He was a game-changing player who to this day, more than 25 years after the close of his collegiate career, still owns several Crimson Tide records. We are proud and honored to see him inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, an organization with which The University of Alabama has a long and distinguished history.

A native of Miami, Fla., and one of the Crimson Tide's all-time great linebackers, Derrick played for head coaches Ray Perkins and Bill Curry from 1985-88. A unanimous All-America selection in 1988 and a two-time All-SEC selection in 1987 and 1988, Derrick is the 24th Alabama player or coach to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Derrick set Alabama and NCAA records for sacks and tackles for a loss in 1988 on his way to winning the Butkus Award, CBS Defensive Player of the Year and the Washington Pigskin Club's Defensive Player of the Year. As a senior in 1988, he recorded 88 tackles with 39 tackles for losses of 250 yards while registering 27 sacks for losses of 204 yards. He recorded 18 sacks for 142 yards as a junior in 1987 along with 67 tackles. He finished his career with 204 tackles, 68 tackles for loss (465 yards), 52 sacks (408 yards), 10 forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.

Derrick led the Crimson Tide to a 35-15-1 record during his four years at the Capstone with four bowl berths, including wins in the 1985 Aloha Bowl and the 1986 and 1988 Sun Bowls. He was also a finalist for the Lombardi Award and finished in the top 10 in the Heisman Trophy voting while being named the 1988-89 Athlete of the Year across all sports by the Southeastern Conference. He served as a defensive captain for the 1988 team, was selected to the Tide's Team of the Century and was the Defensive Player of the Decade of the 1980s.

The Kansas City Chiefs selected Derrick with the fourth overall pick of the 1989 NFL Draft. He spent his entire 11-year career with the Chiefs and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He was the 1989 Defensive Rookie of the Year and was elected to the Pro Bowl every year from 1989-97, nine successive seasons.

Derrick was active in the community, starting the 3rd and Long Foundation in Kansas City to teach low-income children to read, and was named the 1993 Walter Payton Man of the Year. He still holds the NFL record for sacks in a game with seven and was a member of the 1990s NFL All-Decade Team. He was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2001. Derrick joins Don Hutson, Ozzie Newsome, John Hannah and Buck Buchanan (Grambling) as the only players to be chosen to the college, pro and state of Alabama halls of fame. Derrick passed away on Feb. 8, 2000, at the age of 33, following complications from a car accident.

NATIONALLY-RANKED TEAMS THIS WEEK

This week, five of our remaining active teams are nationally ranked among the top 25 in their respective sports, with two (men's golf and softball) ranked in the top five. Here's a glance at this week's rankings:

Men's Golf - 1st
Softball - 5th
Men's Track - 11th
Women's Golf - 12th
Baseball - 24th

CHAMPIONSHIPS ON THE LINE


We are at the time of the year when the drama of our sports reaches its apex. We are blessed to have several teams still in competition for national titles as the women's golf team is at the NCAA championships this weekend while the men's golf team is preparing for next week's men's NCAA title event. On campus this week, the softball team hosts Nebraska in a three-game series that will send one team on to the Women's College World Series and the other will end its season. The track and field team is preparing for next week's NCAA regional meet, while the baseball squad hopes to hear good news this week about their hopes for an NCAA tournament spot.

• Coach Jay Seawell's top-ranked MEN'S GOLF team was impressive in a 22-shot victory at the NCAA Auburn Regional Championship last week to advance to the program's 17th appearance at the NCAA Championships. The Tide shot 6-under-par 282 in the final round for an 11-under-par 853. Kennesaw State finished second with Auburn third. The top five teams advanced to the NCAA Championships to be played at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan., on May 23-28. Senior Cory Whitsett led our team with a runner-up finish while sophomore Tom Lovelady recorded a career-best tie for third place. Senior Trey Mullinaxalso posted a top-10 finish with a tie for seventh. It marks the fourth straight NCAA Championships appearance for the Tide. Alabama has now qualified for the NCAA Men's Golf Championships seven times in Coach Seawell's 12 years, including seven of the last eight.

• Our outstanding WOMEN'S TENNIS team saw the finest season in its history come to an end in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championships last Saturday in a 4-2 loss to No. 7 North Carolina. With the loss, the Tide ended the season with a 25-5 record, the best under head coach Jenny Mainzand the best in for the program in three decades. Alabama came up just shy of securing the doubles point and was making comebacks in singles after dropping four first sets, but the Tar Heels held on and clinched the match with a three-set victory on court two.

This team is a relatively young squad, so the future is bright. But this season will be one that leaves an important legacy for the women's program as the Tide not only reached new heights in national rankings and victories while capturing the SEC regular-season title, but also began to develop a strong fan following. Coach Mainz and her team were fun to watch, but they also were excellent in reaching out to their fan base and marketing their program.

Action continued this week for a couple of Tide players at the NCAA singles and doubles tournaments. Maya Jansen and Erin Routliffeare the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Doubles Championship, where they posted a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Southern California's 11th-ranked team of Giuliana Olmos and Zoë Scandalis on Thursday in the round of 32. With the win, they advance to today's round of 16 to face 25th-ranked Masa Grgan and Abigail Tere-Apisah from Georgia State. Maya and Erin have won their last six matches and have won 18 matches throughout the season together, 11 of which have come against nationally-ranked opponents.

• Our SOFTBALL team won an epic game last night in the first of a three-game Super Regional set with Nebraska to determine who goes to the Women's College World Series. The Tide and the Huskers are slated to meet again later today at 5 p.m., with another game scheduled for 8 p.m., if needed. The Tide had to persevere to take the 1-0 lead in the series, coming back from a 4-0 deficit to win, 6-5, in a tense, 12-inning game that lasted four hours, 22 minutes, and had all of us on pins and needles for most of the night. After falling behind 4-0 through the first one and a half innings, Coach Pat Murphy's team methodically fought back to tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning on a home run by freshman Marisa Runyon. The two teams then battled through an extra four and a half scoreless innings before another home run in the bottom of the 12th, this one by freshman Peyton Grantham, ended the game to bed just after midnight. Today's 5 p.m. CT game will be televised by ESPNU. If a third game is necessary, it will air on ESPN at 8 p.m. CT.

With three wins last weekend, the Tide won the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional to advance to the NCAA Super Regional round against Nebraska. This marks Alabama's 10th consecutive season to earn a trip to the NCAA Super Regional round, an NCAA record. The Tide is the only team in the nation to advance to the Super Regional round every season since the round's inception in 2005. Senior pitcher Jaclyn Traina went 2-0 last weekend with two complete-game performances in which she allowed only one earned run over 14 innings of work. Junior outfielder Jadyn Spencer led the Tide at the plate, going 9 for 11 (.818) over the weekend with four runs scored, five runs batted in (RBI) and two home runs. Jadyn was a perfect 8 for 8 over the first two games. Sophomore outfielder Haylie McCleneywas 6 for 10 at the plate over the weekend, hitting in each game to extend her hitting streak to a career-high 16 games. Haylie scored five runs, drove in three more, and went 5 for 5 in stolen bases!

Our tremendous fan support has keyed our program to greatness, but we really need a strong showing tonight as this Nebraska team is a proven squad. The Huskers won't go down without a fight. They came into this series off an impressive win at the Missouri Regional in which they knocked off the host Tigers on their home field.

• The WOMEN'S GOLF team is in the final round of the NCAA Women's Golf Championships today in Oklahoma. Senior Stephanie Meadowwas named the recipient of the 2014 Elite 89 Award for the Championships earlier this week. Stephanie has a 4.0 grade-point average in finance and graduated from the University of Alabama on May 11. She is competing in her fourth NCAA Women's Golf Championships this week and ranks third in the most recent Golstat.com Head-to-Head rankings. Stephanie leads the team in scoring average, has two tournament victories this season and an Alabama record nine in her career. The Elite 89, an award founded by the NCAA, recognizes the true essence of the student-athlete by honoring the individual who has reached the pinnacle of competition at the national championship level in his or her sport, while also achieving the highest academic standard among his or her peers. The Elite 89 is presented to the student-athlete with the highest cumulative grade-point average participating at the finals site for each of the NCAA's championships. This year has been an amazing one for Alabama in Elite 89 recipients, as 13 Crimson Tide athletes have earned the honor with more possible honorees to come. That total ties for the national lead with Stanford.

• Our BASEBALLteam is awaiting its fate with the announcement of the field for the NCAA Tournament after an opening-round loss to Kentucky at the SEC Tournament. With a 34-22 record, there is hope that the Tide will get a bid. After a series loss to Mississippi State on the final weekend of the regular season, the Tide finished SEC play with a 15-14 record and entered the SEC Tournament as the eighth seed.

Utility player Cary Baxterhas been named to the SEC Baseball Community Service team as part of the baseball team that won the Athletic Department's Community Service Award for the third time in four years. Cary has helped locally with the Sprayberry Education Center, the Kentuck Youth Baseball League and the Tuscaloosa Miracle League, but he also has traveled the world to help those less fortunate. He volunteered with Costa Rica Mission Projects, working at two children camps during the summer of 2009. While in Costa Rica, he taught English and crafts to students at local schools, and assisted in various construction projects. In 2010, he worked with 410 Bridge, spending two weeks in Kenya helping construct a bridge for a small village. In the summer of 2011, Cary volunteered with Sozo Children International and spent a month traveling to different countries to help care for children at orphanages, while assisting with teaching and construction at Rays of Hope School. Cary is an excellent young man who recently earned his undergraduate degree in human performance exercise science and plans to attend medical school in the fall. He's a recurring Dean's List student and an active member of the NCAA Student Athlete Advisory Committee.

• The MEN'S TENNIS season came to a close on Thursday at the NCAA tournament round of 32 in both singles and doubles. Congratulations to Daniil Proskura for overcoming a first-set loss to defeat Clemson's Hunter Harrington, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, in the first round of play at the NCAA Singles Championships on Wednesday. Daniil ended his singles career with a 6-3, 6-4 loss to South Carolina's Andrew Adams on Thursday morning before he and doubles partner Becker O'Shaughnesseywere edged by Cal's Gregory Bayane and Chase Melton, 7-6(5), 6-4. Daniil posted a 20-7 overall singles record this season, leading the Crimson Tide at No. 1 all year, and he finished his career with 76 singles victories. In doubles, Daniil and Becker won 12 matches together in 2014, including five against nationally-ranked opponents.

• Congratulations to Yanique Malcolm of our women's TRACK & FIELD team, who won the 800 meters on Sunday at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Lexington, Ky. Not only did Yanique win the event, she did it with a personal-best time of 2:03.28, which ranks second in Alabama history. Yanique is the first Alabama woman to win an individual SEC outdoor title since 2010 and the first in the 800 meters since Donna Cargill won in 1996. It was announced on Wednesday that Yanique has been selected to compete in the IAAF World Relays this weekend, May 24-25, in Nassau, Bahamas. Originally from Kingston, Jamaica, Yanique is one of 39 athletes chosen by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association to compete as a member of her home country's team. She will run in the 4x800-meter relay this weekend. Joining her at the event will be two of our volunteer assistant coaches: Mookie Salaam, competing on the United States' 4x100-meter relay, and Tabarie Henry, set to run on the Virgin Islands' 4x200-meter relay.

It was a tough weekend for Coach Dan Waters' crew as Alabama finished eighth in the women's standings and ninth in the men's standings. Arkansas won the women's team title while Texas A&M won the men's championship. Coach Waters expected a better showing for his developing program, but injuries to our top sprinter, Diondre Batson, and our triple jump star, Jeremiah Green, certainly affected our men's team. The program continues to make tremendous strides but, sometimes you have days (or competitions) where things don't fall into place. It certainly looks like that was the case this past weekend. Nonetheless, there were some excellent performances in several events and we still have high hopes for the upcoming NCAA Regional meet in Jacksonville, Fla., on May 29-31, as well as the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Eugene, Ore., in mid-June.

Two of our athletes, Batson and senior distance runner Claire Turnerhave been named to the SEC track & field Community Service Team. Both student-athletes played large roles in the track & field team's community outreach efforts, both in the Tuscaloosa community and on foreign soil. Diondre has volunteered with the DCH "Just For You" Day, assisted at the Glen Haven Nursing Home, and has shared advice and motivational lessons to students at Davis Emerson Middle School, Verner Elementary and Crossing Points School. Batson has stuffed candy bags as Halloween gifts for area youth, participated in the Alabama Athletics Halloween Extravaganza for kids and has been involved in mentorship at Rock Quarry Middle School in Tuscaloosa. Claire has volunteered with the Alabama Athletics Halloween Extravaganza, the Sprayberry Elementary "Tailgating with the Stars" program, Hatch's House of Hope and Soles for Souls. She also participated in the construction of an orphanage on a mission trip to Mexico and was part of the Athletes in Action Track and Field Zimbabwe Ministry. We all should be proud of their efforts, as they are an example of the commitment to our community that many of our student-athletes consistently show.

• The ROWING team ended the season last weekend at the C-USA Championships and senior Lynsey Marshallearned all-conference honors. As a team, Alabama finished 11th overall. Oklahoma won the event with 62 points, earning the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships. In the championship heats, Alabama placed second in the Varsity 4 Petite Final, crossing the line as one of only two crews with a time under 7:55. This team is continuing to develop while in its infancy as a scholarship program at Alabama. With a new boathouse facility on line to be completed this summer, I am hopeful that the program will benefit and flourish.

FOLLOW THE ACTION AS IT HAPPENS


There are several ways to follow our teams in action. The methods vary according to the sport, but here's where you can follow our teams via TV, radio or online:

Softball in the NCAA Tournament Super Regional (Tuscaloosa)
Television - ESPNU (Friday, 5 p.m. CT); ESPN (Friday, 8 p.m. CT) Radio - 95.3 FM (Tuscaloosa) and CTSN (All Games) Live Stats - www.rolltide.com/sports/w-softbl/gametracker.html

Women's Golf at the NCAA Championships (Tulsa, Okla.)
Live Scoring - http://www.ncaa.com/sports/golf-women/d1/2014-womens-di-golf-championships-team-leaderboard

Men's Golf at the NCAA Championships (Hutchinson, Kan.)
Live Scoring - http://www.ncaa.com/sports/golf-men/d1/2014-di-mens-golf-team-leaderboard

UPCOMING ACTION


Here's a summary of athletics events over the next several days (times listed are for the location of the event):

Friday, May 23

*if necessary

TimeSportOpponent/EventLocation
5 p.m. Softball NCAA Super Regional vs. Nebraska Tuscaloosa
*8 p.m. Softball NCAA Super Regional vs. Nebraska Tuscaloosa
All Day Women's Golf NCAA Championships Tulsa, Okla.
All Day Men's Golf NCAA Championships Hutchinson, Kan.

Saturday, May 24

TimeSportOpponent/EventLocation
All Day Men's Golf NCAA Championships Hutchinson, Kan.

Sunday, May 25

TimeSportOpponent/EventLocation
All Day Men's Golf NCAA Championships Hutchinson, Kan.

Monday, May 26

TimeSportOpponent/EventLocation
All Day Men's Golf NCAA Championships Hutchinson, Kan.

Tuesday, May 27

TimeSportOpponent/EventLocation
All Day Men's Golf NCAA Championships Hutchinson, Kan.

Wednesday, May 28

TimeSportOpponent/EventLocation
All Day Men's Golf NCAA Championships Hutchinson, Kan.

If you are in Tuscaloosa, Tulsa or Hutchinson, Kan., I encourage you to make a special effort to come out and support our teams. Your presence means the world to our teams. A rising tide lifts all boats and it's up to all of us to Keep the Tide Rising!

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