TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The sun was shining and dingers were flying as Alabama softball took the field at Rhoads Stadium for one last practice before the team hosts the Tuscaloosa Regional this weekend.
It has been exactly one week since the Crimson Tide last played a game when the team lost to Missouri 3-0 in the SEC Tournament.
"We're definitely ready to get out there this weekend," said senior catcher Ally Shipman. "We're loving the weather, the weather's nice and warm. It feels like softball season for sure. And so you can definitely feel that postseason excitement."
The excitement was evident as Alabama practiced for just over an hour under the scorching Tuscaloosa sun with high energy coming from the players. The sixth-seeded Crimson Tide first fielded balls before rotating through three groups of batting practice.
The first group included Aubrey Barnhart, Jordan Stephens, Savannah Woodard, Abby Doerr and KJ Haney. Next up was Ashley Prange, Kaylee Tow, Dallis Goodnight, Kali Heivilin and Shipman. The final group featured Jenna Johnson, Jenna Lord, Megan Bloodworth, Bailey Dowling and Kat Grill.
Each group started out BP working on bunting before head coach Patrick Murphy put the players through different scenarios like runner on second with no outs, or down two runs bottom of the seventh inning. Then the last few cycles through, the girls worked on swinging away.
Almost every single player, including Woodard and Grill, displayed home run power during BP, but Prange and Dowling in particular were consistently crushing the ball.
Offensively, Alabama struggled down the stretch of the regular season, but hitting is something the team has worked on a lot since the loss last Thursday, and Murphy is not concerned about his batters.
"I think the cool thing about the postseason is everybody's slate is clean, everybody," Murphy said. "So whether you've done well, or you've not done well, you're hot or not, it does not matter. We're gonna go in with a fresh start, and everybody's batting average is .000, and we'll go from there."
On the pitching side, all four of Alabama's pitchers were seen warming up in the bullpen, which is an especially positive sign for Lexi Kilfoyl, who has not pitched in a game since April 23 against Texas A&M. Murphy has previously said she is day-to-day, but they have been encouraged by her progress this week. He said it was awesome to see her up throwing today.
"She did a little bit the other day, and little by little hopefully we'll see in her game, but it's totally up to the doctor, her and Esi [Atinkah] our athletic trainer. So we're not going to push anything and just see what happens, but that would be a big, big boost for us."
Alabama opens up regional play Friday at 3 p.m. against Chattanooga on SEC Network.