Feb. 2, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – As the season looms rolltide.com is going to preview the Alabama softball team. The first edition sheds light on the highly talented Crimson Tide battery, led by All-American Jackie Traina.
Once again, the Tide is led by Traina, the Most Outstanding Player at the Women’s College World Series and the Southeastern Pitcher of the Year last season. The right-hander won a school-record 28 consecutive decisions en route to a 42-3 record in 2012, another school-record, and posted a 1.87 earned run average with 361 strikeouts, another single-season school record. Her 42 wins led the country in 2012.
Traina threw every pitch in the three-game Florida series to win the SEC regular season title, both games of the Super Regional against Michigan, and all six games in the WCWS. To top it all off, Traina was named to the USA National Team over the summer for the World Championships.
“The team USA experience was a really good one for her,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “I think that she had some really good kids on that team with her. There were a lot of kids her age, a couple older so I think that she saw a professional approach from the veterans and I think that she needed to see that. I think that she is a better leader. She is even calmer. Her demeanor is as good as it has ever been, maybe better. I think she approaches each hitter a little bit more intensely.”
Traina isn’t alone in the pitching circle, however, as Alabama returns Leslie Jury for her sophomore campaign and Lauren Sewell returns from injury after a solid start to her 2012 season.
“I think that they will all complement each other,” Murphy said. “Jackie [Traina] did the majority of the pitching last season, but both [Leslie Jury and Lauren Sewell] sat and learned from her. They saw the way she bounced back from adversity. They saw that nothing affected her game, rain delays or anything.
“For her to be on our team is terrific for the other two because they have a great model to look up to and watch. Lauren was doing as well as she ever had in her career when she got hurt last March. She was on her way to a great year. Leslie, when you come in as a freshman and you win three straight state championships and you are the best in the state of South Carolina, then you start getting hit, it is a little bit of a shocker. Every freshman pitcher goes through it; you just have to learn how to deal with it. It is a definite culture shock for any kid that steps in, but she has come back bigger and better. I think that she is in better shape and her pitches are moving, doing what they are supposed to do.”
Alabama also must contend with losing half of their starting battery, with catcher Kendall Dawson graduating, but Murphy has multiple options at both catcher and pitcher as well. UA returns Chaunsey Bell and Jordan Patterson, but also welcomes in transfer Molly Fichtner from Texas-San Antonio.
“All three of them bring something different to the table,” Murphy explained. “Molly has done a great job coming in and getting to know everybody. She has a really quick release and a really good bat. She is short to the ball and doesn’t swing and miss at all. She is going to make contact. I think that she will be a great hit and run person. Chaunsey’s biggest attribute is that she is a gamer. She had so many big time pinch hits last year, I can think of home runs and doubles. She is very clutch. Even in the fall she has been terrific. Jordan [Patterson], if I asked the 19 kids that are on the team who the hardest worker was over half of them would say her. She puts in the work. At any given time she could break out and be one heck of a player.”
The battery will have its first chance to get acclimated when the season begins at the UNI Dome Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The Tide will play a total of five games in three days, beginning with Illinois on Friday, Feb. 8.