Feb. 5, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – As the season looms RollTide.com is going to preview the Alabama softball team. The third edition sheds light on the deep Crimson Tide infield.
The infield in 2013 will have similar faces except for at first base. All-American Kaila Hunt returns after having one of the most prolific power-hitting seasons in program history. Hunt smacked 21 home runs and had 77 RBI to lead all players in the Southeastern Conference.
Hunt will be part of a deep infield, one that Murphy is extremely excited about. After losing senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia at first base, he has the ability to rotate numerous players throughout the four infield spots. The Tide returns Courtney Conley at third, Hunt at shortstop, and Danae Hays at second, but Murphy says the team’s depth will be shown.
“At first base we have Jackey Branham, Jadyn Spencer and Leona Lafaele,” Murphy said. “They have all done a great job. They are very good targets over there. I think it will come down to who is the most consistent hitter because they have been doing very well defensively, all of them. To lose a Cassie [Reilly-Boccia] who was the leader on the infield was huge, so they have big shoes to fill.”
Conley returns for her senior season after hitting .281 with six home runs and 26 RBI. Hays got a lot of playing time as a freshman in 2012, hitting .253 with five home runs and 21 RBI.
Joining Conley and Hays are very experienced players in Branham and Ryan Iamurri. Branham hit .250 with two home runs and 11 RBI but added a .410 on base percentage in 48 at bats. Iamurri hit .375 in 32 at bats, adding a home run and two stolen bases.
Danielle Richard was also a key piece for the Tide in 2012 as a freshman. Richard hit .256 in 41 games and was a perfect 9-for-9 in stolen bases while adding 15 runs. Spencer provided some punch off the bench, slugging .545 in 33 at bats while hitting .303.
“The depth, again, is probably going to be our biggest strength,” Murphy said. “We have two kids at every position that can start for probably eighty percent of Division I softball. That doesn’t happen very often.”
Alabama will open its 2013 season at the UNI Dome Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UA will face Illinois in the opener on Friday, Feb. 8, with first pitch slated for 3 p.m.