In today's world of collegiate athletics, few can claim to have been at a program since the beginning. Not many can say they were there at the origin of a program, having been present from the very inception to where it stands today. And certainly nobody can claim to have brought a program further, and in shorter time, than Crimson Tide head softball coach Patrick Murphy, entering his 18th season as the program's leader in 2016.
From a humble start to a national championship, Murphy has taken Alabama to the top of the college softball world. Beginning with his days as an assistant in the very first years of the Alabama softball program, Murphy has emerged as the face of a team that has grown under his leadership to become one of the most consistently successful programs in the nation.
The accomplishments are there for everyone to see. A 2012 National Championship, 10 Women's College World Series berths, five SEC regular season titles, five SEC Tournament titles and 17 straight NCAA Tournament bids are only a few of the team honors that Murphy has brought to Tuscaloosa during his tenure.
The individual honors are equally as impressive. Tide players have earned All-America honors 95 times under Murphy's watch. He has tutored 90 All-SEC performers and 83 NFCA All-Region honorees. His teams have been just as successful in the classroom, with 17 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 183 SEC All-Academic selections.
Even more impressively, Murphy has led the program to a surge of popularity among Tide fans. Alabama has become a regular atop the nation's attendance standings, with an ever-growing group of loyal fans who fill the stands at Rhoads Stadium throughout the season. The 2008 campaign was a sellout, setting a new benchmark in season tickets sold with more than 1,200 allocated to loyal fans. During the 2009 season, Alabama broke the single-season attendance record formerly held by Fresno State. Then, in 2010, a record total of 80,690 fans were part of the atmosphere in Tuscaloosa followed by 68,110 that took in the Tide in 2011. In 2012 and 2013, attendance topped the 90,000 mark, with 91,541 fans in 2012 and 93,332 in 2013. Alabama led the nation in attendance yet again in 2014, welcoming 83,233 fans to Rhoads Stadium, including 3,940 against LSU on March 29. Attendance surged back over the 90,000 mark in 2015, including sellout crowds on April 25 against Tennessee and on May 23 for the thrilling conclusion of the Super Regional series against Oklahoma.
Every coach in the nation would do anything to achieve those numbers, which stand as a tribute to what Murphy and his teams have achieved while illustrating the willingness of Tide fans to support a program that does things right, both on and off the field.
Murphy has turned his program into an absolute model of consistency, having guided Alabama to its first national title, 17 consecutive NCAA tournaments, and appearances in 10 Women's College World Series (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015).
The 2014 team will be remembered as one of the best in Crimson Tide history, as they finished 53-13(19-5 SEC) as the national runner-up, making it all the way to the Women's College World Series championship. The World Series trip was the ninth in program history, preceded by the team's seventh NCAA Super Regional title and 12th NCAA Regonal title. Alabama secured its fifth SEC Championship in the final weekend of the regular season, defeating Missouri on the road in front of a national TV audience on ESPN.
The 2013 season was yet another successful season at the Capstone, with the Tide making its 15th straight NCAA regional appearance. The year was particularly special for Murphy, as he opened the season with a return trip to his alma mater, Northern Iowa, for the UNI-Dome Classic and ended the year being inducted into the NFCA Hall of Fame. Murphy also earned his 800th win during the season with an 8-0 win over Auburn on March 22, 2013.
A magical 2012 season for the Tide culminated in defeating Oklahoma for the NCAA Championship. Alabama finished 60-8 and claimed its third straight SEC regular-season championship. The Tide also won the SEC Tournament, becoming the first team ever to host the highly competitive tournament and come out champions. The NFCA ultimately named the Alabama coaches the 2012 National Coaching Staff of the Year.
The 2011 Tide won the first two games in the WCWS for the first time in program history. Alabama finished 53-11, marking the seventh straight season Murphy had guided the Tide to 50 or more wins. Alabama secured its second straight SEC regular-season title, finishing 19-6 in the league.
Individually, four Tide players earned 2011 NFCA All-America honors. Kelsi Dunne, on the strength of earning her second straight SEC Pitcher of the Year accolade, was named to the NFCA first team and was joined by Kayla Braud and freshman Jackie Traina. Whitney Larsen was named to the second team. Dunne, Braud and Larsen also garnered All-SEC honors and were joined by Amanda Locke as all-conference performers. Kaila Hunt was named to the SEC All-Freshmen team while Dunne, Kendall Dawson and Jazlyn Lunceford were tabbed to the SEC All-Defensive Team. Once again, Murphy and his staff were named the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
Murphy eclipsed the 650-win mark in 2010 en route to leading the Crimson Tide to SEC regular-season and tournament championships. The Alabama coaching staff once again was named the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year. Alabama finished with a 52-11 record and a 23-4 conference mark, en route to earning the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Individually, Charlotte Morgan was named the 2010 SEC Player of the Year, Dunne was awarded SEC Pitcher of the Year, Braud was tabbed the SEC Freshman of the Year and Murphy earned SEC Coach of the Year honors. Morgan, Dunne and Braud all earned NFCA All-America accolades.
The previous season, Murphy and his staff were named the 2009 NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year after leading Alabama to a 54-11 overall record. The Tide matched its longest run in the WCWS at the time by finishing with a 2-2 mark in Oklahoma City. Alabama led the nation with three players earning 2009 Louisville Slugger All-America honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. The first-team selections included Dunne and Morgan while Brittany Rogers garnered second-team honors.
Since taking over prior to the 1999 season, Murphy has compiled a winning record in all 15 seasons. He has won 45 or more games in each of the past 14 years, with a program-best 66 victories in 2000. Murphy also has won 20-plus games in conference play in 11 of his 15 seasons in the SEC. The 2008 campaign marked the third time he had posted 25 conference victories, matching the win totals from the 2006 and 2000 seasons.
Murphy's ability to build and maintain the impressive level of consistency places him among the nation's elite. He has a career mark of 817-233 (.778) in 16 seasons, including one year at Northwest Missouri State. Murphy has been just as successful in the always competitive SEC with a 323-112 (.743) record in league play.
It is Murphy's desire for perfection that has guided the Tide to the upper echelon of the softball world. His hard-nosed work ethic has led the program to as high as No. 1 in the national rankings, reached for the first time in program history during the 2007 season and continued through every ensuing season. The Tide has finished in the top 10 in the final polls each of the past eight campaigns. The 2010 squad earned the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament after finishing the season on a 21-game winning streak, a run that saw the the Tide capture both the SEC regular-season and tournament titles.
Entering his 22nd season as a collegiate coach, Murphy officially acquired the title of Alabama's head coach on July 12, 1998. He spent the previous two years as an assistant coach on the Crimson Tide coaching staff. In his first season as the head coach, Murphy took the team to its first NCAA Tournament en route to a 39-26 final record. The Tide lost to No. 1 UCLA and No. 23 Missouri in the Los Angeles Regional. In his second season, Murphy took the program to the next step, leading Alabama to its first-ever Women's College World Series berth after the best regular season in school history. That 2000 team won a school-record 66 games (66-14) and 25 SEC games (25-5). They finished in the top 10 for the first time in school history, after earning a 6-4 victory over DePaul for the school's first win in the WCWS.
Alabama continued its success in 2001 when it hosted an NCAA regional for the first time. The Tide ended that season ranked No. 10 with a 50-11 record and 24-6 SEC mark. In 2002, they went 46-21 (22-8 SEC) and again advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Murphy took the Tide back to the Women's College World Series in 2003, after winning his first SEC Championship as a head coach. The 2003 team swept the NCAA Region 8 tournament to advance to the WCWS, where they lost two close games, 3-2, to No. 1 Arizona and 6-3 (9) to No. 4 Oklahoma. Alabama finished No. 7 in 2003, with a 49-21 record (22-8 SEC).
The 2004 team posted a 45-20 mark but had to travel to No. 4 UCLA in the NCAA Regional round and lost twice to the Bruins. But 12 months later, the Tide were back at the Women's College World Series. The 2005 squad totaled the second-most wins in program history with a 63-15 record and 23-7 SEC ledger. They won the school's third SEC Tournament championship with a 2-0 victory over Georgia and swept the NCAA Region 12 tournament to earn the right to travel to College Station for a two-game sweep over No. 5 Texas A&M in the new Super Regional round. In the WCWS, the Tide earned a 12-inning, 2-1, victory over DePaul before they were eliminated with a 4-0 loss to Tennessee.
One could almost say that Murphy was born to be around the game of baseball. In the third grade, the Fayette, Iowa, native put on his first baseball glove and took to the little league fields. Five years later, fresh out of the eighth grade, he made Fayette High School's varsity baseball squad and played the next five years for five different coaches.
"I always knew I wanted to be a coach," Murphy says. "My high school was such a small school that I got to play varsity baseball in eighth grade. Every year it was something different I learned, either good or bad, from each coach. My senior year, I tried to put everything together I had learned from all the different coaches and came up with a good collaborative plan."
After hanging up his spikes on his prep career, Murphy made the trip to the campus of the University of Northern Iowa where he spent the next four years. Murphy took his first job doing what he always had wanted to do, but on a smaller scale, when he became a little league head coach. Three years after taking that job, he graduated from Northern Iowa with a bachelor's degree in history education.
Even with his youngest players on that team being close to his own age at the time, Murphy concedes that his first job as a head coach was where he learned the most about himself and the game.
"Those kids were baseball nuts," he says. "They played baseball on the town tennis court because that was the only place in town that had lights. The lights would go off automatically at midnight, so that is when they knew they had to go home. They taught me so many things about the game of baseball. They played because they loved it so much."
It took only two years for Murphy to become a success as a head coach. After leading the Sumner High School boys to a 22-3 record in his first year as head coach, he guided the Aces to the state championship game the next season. Following a short stay at Sumner, Murphy continued his education as a graduate student at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now known as Louisiana-Lafayette). While at USL, he broke into the collegiate coaching ranks as an assistant softball coach while finishing his master's degree in communications in 1992.
"The head coach at USL knew I had coached baseball in Iowa and she told me about the job," Murphy remembers. "It only paid six thousand dollars, but I was in grad school there and she asked me if I wanted another duty. That's where it all started and I just got hooked."
Prospering with the Ragin' Cajuns through a five-year record (1990-94) of 239-46 - including a trip to the 1993 Women's College World Series on the shoulders of former player and current Alabama associate head coach Alyson Habetz - Murphy moonlighted as head coach of the Independence Iowa high school baseball team from 1992-95. Due to the high recognition of his duties as an assistant coach at USL, along with the solid success of his duties as a high school coach, Murphy was hired as interim head coach at Northwest Missouri State in 1995. Although he was officially hired only three weeks before spring practice in 1995, Murphy led the Bearcats to a 28-20 record.
Murphy has proven himself to be a leader capable of recruiting and developing talented players who perform on the field and in the classroom. Combining that with the lure of athletic tradition at Alabama and the nation's finest facilities, the Tide softball team remains among the best in the nation.
Murphy's Career Record
NW Missouri State
After 16 seasons as Alabama's head coach, Patrick Murphy has achieved unbelievable success:
•2012 National Championship, the first for any Southeastern Conference program •Nine College World Series appearances (2014, 2012, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003 and 2000) • 16-straight NCAA Tournament appearances (1999-2014) •Five SEC Championships (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2006) •Five SEC Tournament Championships (2012, 2010,2005, 2003, 1998) • Four-time SEC Coach of Year (2014, 2012, 2010, 2006) • Most wins in school history (842) • Best winning percentage in school history (.788) • Most wins in a season in school history (66) • Most wins in the country-66 (2000) • Consecutive Top-10 ranking (2005-14) • Nine-time South Region Coaching Staff of the Year (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2003 and 2000) • 2012 National Coaching Staff of the Year • 2013 NFCA Hall of Fame Inductee • 43 NFCA All-Americans • 46 Easton All-Americans • 78 All-South Region Selections • 86 All-SEC Selections • Most SEC wins in a season in UA history (25) • 18 Academic All-Americans • 170 Academic All-SEC Selections •12 World Series All-Tournament team selections • 87 SEC Player of the Week selections • Youngest coach in SEC history to reach 100 wins • Hitting coach for Canadian National Team in 2004 Olympics • 2009 and 2010 Team USA Assistant Coach • Current NFCA President
THE MURPHY FILE Born: November 28, 1965 Birthplace: Waterloo, Iowa High School: Fayette High School College: Northern Iowa, 1988 B.S. in History Education Southwestern Louisiana, 1992, MS in Mass Communication
Head Softball Coach University of Alabama, 1998 -present
Assistant Softball Coach University of Alabama, 1996 - 1998
Interim Head Softball Coach Northwest Missouri State, 1995
Head Baseball Coach Independence (IA) HS, 1992 - 1995