Feb. 5, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - When Alabama opens its 2013 softball schedule at the UNI Dome Tournament, three members of the defending national champions will be returning to their home state. Head coach Patrick Murphy, sophomore Jadyn Spencer and director of operations Kate Harris all hold the state of Iowa in a special place.
Murphy, a Fayette, Iowa native, was a regular on the little league fields and later the Fayette High School diamond, before attending Northern Iowa where he earned a degree in history education. It was in Iowa where Murphy began has storied coaching career.
"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."
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 led the Aces to the state championship game the next season. After pit stops at Louisiana-Lafayette and Northwest Missouri State, the rest became history, culminating in the programs first national championship at Alabama.
Spencer, a national champion in her first season at the Capstone, came to Tuscaloosa from Waterloo, Iowa, where she was one of the top prep athletes in the state. A multi-sport star at Waterloo West High School, Spencer not only excelled at softball, but also in basketball and track and field.
Spencer was named the Iowa Gatorade Player of the Year, was a five-time all-state selection while setting the state record with 54 career home runs. On the hardwood she was a McDonald's honorable mention All-American and on the track she was the state champion in the shot put and a four-year state qualifier.
Harris, like Spencer, is a Waterloo native and preceded her to Waterloo West High School. Harris, the former Kate Petullo, attended Waterloo Columbus High School before transferring to Waterloo West as a sophomore.
At Waterloo West, Harris was the captain of the district champion softball team and the state runner-up basketball team. She also captained the track team and lettered in volleyball and cross country before attending Creighton University where she captained the softball team and earned her degree in sociology. While also at Creighton, where she was named most inspirational player following her sophomore, junior and senior seasons, Harris was also a part of three Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championships and three NCAA Tournaments.
Alabama will start its season at the Ramada UNI-Dome Classic on Friday, Feb. 8, against Illinois. The Tide will wrap up its first day of the season against Northern Iowa. Day two will pit Alabama against Drake and Wisconsin-Green Bay. UA closes the tournament against North Dakota State.