Sept. 29, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama softball team will have a different look as it enters the 2010 season and that new look took to the field for the first time as a team Tuesday for the start of fall practice. Gone are the talents of Kelley Montalvo, Brittany Rogers, Lauren Parker, Ashley Holcombe and Kellie Eubanks - arguably the greatest class to step foot on the Tuscaloosa campus.
Despite the loss of personnel, Crimson Tide head coach Patrick Murphy returns All-Americans Charlotte Morgan and Kelsi Dunne and also welcomes a highly touted recruiting class that will be counted on to fill some major holes.
The process began on Tuesday for the six freshmen, who hail from coast to coast. The beginning of fall practice will enable the South Region Coaching Staff of the Year to get a closer look at the club and piece together a blueprint for the spring campaign.
"The weather was great today," Murphy said. "It was nice to be back out there and get a good look at the team. The six freshmen have been great. They all bring something new to the team."
The newcomers includes: four infielders, one outfielder and a pitcher. Looking to fill the void of three starting infielders will be: Jackie Branham (Troy, Mo.), Kayla Braud (Eugene, Ore.), Courtney Conley (Robertsville, Mo.), and Nicole Yancey (Whitesburg, Ga.).
The lone outfielder is the fleet-footed Keima Davis (Deerfield Beach, Fla.) and in the circle is Lauren Sewell (Birmingham, Ala.).
Branham and Conley come to the Capstone from the same ASA team while Braud brings with her a high school record 103 game hitting streak. Yancey holds the Georgia state home run record with 16 and was named an Under Armour All-American.
Davis was a second team All-American her sophomore season while Sewell helped her team hold a No. 1 national ranking.
Looking to lead the young crop will be the veteran and reigning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Charlotte Morgan. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native was a USA Softball Player of the Year finalist and a first-team All-American.
Morgan led the team with a .406 batting average, 11 home runs and 59 RBI. The southpaw was also 18-6 in the circle with a 1.80 ERA and 124 strikeouts to just 24 walks.
In the circle Kelsi Dunne returns where she earned first-team All-American honors. Dunne pitched a NCAA record back-to-back no-hitters in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional to advance the Crimson Tide to its sixth Women's College World Series.
Dunne went 28-5 in the circle with a 1.63 ERA, adding 258 strikeouts while holding opposing batters to a paltry .181 average.
Also returning to the lineup is SEC Freshman of the Year Amanda Locke and SEC All-Freshmen team member Cassie Reilly-Boccia. Locke smacked nine home runs and drove in 30 runs while slugging .538 in her rookie campaign. Reilly-Boccia quietly batted .340 with a team-leading 16 doubles and was third on the squad with 47 RBI. The Yorktown Heights, N.Y. native walked 40 times and had a .505 on base percentage.
With the mix of All-American talent and the influx of the young promise the Crimson Tide aim to not miss a beat and avoid the term rebuild and instead retool. Alabama will be on display this fall in its annual Fall Brawl events. The Fall Brawl will span over three dates and will begin on Sunday, Oct. 18 with all games being played at the Alabama Softball Complex.