Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama Softball to Open 2013 Season Indoors

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama Softball to Open 2013 Season Indoors

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama softball team won the 2012 national championship in the rain but won't have to worry about the weather to start the 2013 season.

The defending national champion Crimson Tide, which defeated Oklahoma on a rainy night in the final game of the Women's College World Series to claim the national title, will open next spring's season in a cold-weather environment but won't be subject to the elements.

Alabama will play Illinois, North Dakota State, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Drake and the host school in the Northern Iowa Tournament on Feb. 8-10 in Cedar Falls, Iowa, where UA will play indoors at the UNI-Dome. Alabama hasn't played softball indoors since participating in the Metrodome Classic in Minneapolis in 2000.

"We had a great time (in the Minnesota indoor tournament)," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "We went 7-0, and I think we hit seven home runs. It was a great experience for everybody.

"It's a much smaller dome, and it will be 72 degrees. We're going to play - it's not going to get colded out, it's not going to get rained out."

Alabama will open home play Feb. 12 against South Alabama in a rematch of last year's Tuscaloosa Regional final. The Crimson Tide will host Iowa, Western Illinois and Winthrop in the Bama Bash on Feb. 22-24 and host Iowa State, North Carolina and St. John's in the Easton Classic on March 1-3.

Murphy, as usual, made efforts to lure highly ranked teams from around the country to play at UA but wasn't able to schedule some of the teams that he wanted.

"It's harder and harder," he said.

The most interesting game on UA's schedule will be against a familiar Southeastern Conference rival in a game that won't count in the SEC standings. Florida will visit Rhoads Stadium on March 6 for a single game. Since SEC teams won't all meet under the new 14-team league format, Alabama and Florida decided to play even though they aren't on each others' league schedule.

"I've got to credit Tim (Walton, Florida's coach)," Murphy said. "We were doing our schedules and he said, 'What are you doing March 6?' I thought about it for about a minute and said, 'Let's do it.'

"It will be the best midweek game that we've ever had. I think we'll have a great crowd. …

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