Saturday, January 25, 2003
University of Alabama Softball
2003 Preseason Press Conference
Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy
"I was practicing my Lou Holtz speech. We are not going to be any good. We have all kinds of people injured. But I'm not going to say it. Because I think that I have a really good team. I am as excited about this team as any other team I have I had. I think this is the most balanced team that we've ever have had. We have some incredible power. We have a couple of freshmen that just crush the ball. Hopefully it's not just my meatballs in batting practice that are going to get crushed. It's just a lot of fun coming to practice. We have 13 letter winners back. We have two pitchers back. We have more speed than I think we have ever had. The three speed demons are also hitters. So, not only can they slap and drag and bunt a little but they can hit. I think they are going to give teams fits when they play defense against us. Defensively we need to come around a little bit. We had a couple of changes in the off-season. We graduated a really good second baseman so we made a change there. The third baseman went over to second so we had to find a new third baseman. I have been really pleased with the work ethic. They came back in great shape. I can't wait to get to UCLA next weekend."
On Seniors Lacy Prejean and Jen Reach
"You always talk about kids that you are going to miss the most and those two are really among my favorites. I know you are not supposed to have favorites as a coach. They both have done exactly what I have wanted for four straight years. Work ethic, character, everything has been great about them. Those are the kids that you win with and those are the kids that you hope you win with because, in the back of my mind, they deserve it the most. Two great captains, they are quiet leaders but they always get the job done and they do exactly what I tell them to do. They also play two big positions in shortstop and catcher."
On the experience gained by last season's newcomers
"Well if you count Capper Reed we had eight freshmen last year and now we have eight sophomores. I think it is a great thing because eight people came back. That is a statement in itself because usually you have a little here and there people leaving, but they all came back. I never expected the class to be as good as it was when we recruited them. Ashley Courtney being a first team All-American. Jackie Wilkins is much better. You'll be amazed at her. Jen Wright is one of the pitchers coming back. I don't even want to think of two years from now trying to replace them."
On replacing Shelley Laird
"I think Erin said it best in one her meetings this fall. She said 'Now I have to do it. Everybody kind of said Shelley's in the background, Shelley's in the bullpen. Shelley's going to start today. She can do it.' Now it's up to her and it's up to Jen and it's up to Stephanie. I think there was a better sense of urgency with all three. Erin had a great fall. Her change up is better than anybody we have ever had. Jen (Wright) complements Erin because Jen is mainly a down pitcher and Erin moves it a little bit up and down. I think all three pitchers could carry us. You could flip a coin to see who starts."
Alabama Pitcher Erin Wright
On filling All-American Shelley Laird's shoes
"I'm excited. I can't wait to fill Shelley's shoes and take over as oldest pitcher at least. I think Jen (Wright) and I will compliment each other. Stephanie (VanBrakle) did really well in the fall. I think we are all three going to compliment each other really well.
All-American Jackie McClain
On moving into a leadership role
"I think being a junior I feel that I have a leadership role for the team. I feel more mature and older and I feel like I am a leader."