University of Alabama

The University of Alabama Women's Softball
BOX 870393 Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
Division 1 Alabama Southeast
Public Very Large National competitor


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Patrick Murphy

In today’s world of collegiate athletics, few can claim to have been at a program since the beginning. Not many can say they were there at the origin of a program, having been present from the very inception to where it stands today. And certainly nobody can claim to have brought a program further, and in shorter time, than Crimson Tide head softball coach Patrick Murphy, entering his 19th season as the program’s leader in 2017.

From a humble start to a national championship, Murphy has taken Alabama to the top of the college softball world. Beginning with his days as an assistant in the very first years of the Alabama softball program, Murphy has emerged as the face of a team that has grown under his leadership to become one of the most consistently successful programs in the nation.

The accomplishments are there for everyone to see. A 2012 National Championship, 11 Women’s College World Series berths, five SEC regular season titles, five SEC Tournament titles and 18-straight NCAA Tournament bids are only a few of the team honors that Murphy has brought to Tuscaloosa during his tenure.

The individual honors are equally as impressive. Tide players have earned All-America honors 98 times under Murphy’s watch. He has tutored 94 All-SEC performers and 88 NFCA All-Region honorees. His teams have been just as successful in the classroom, with 21 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans and 198 SEC All-Academic selections.

Even more impressively, Murphy has led the program to a surge of popularity among Tide fans. Alabama has become a regular atop the nation’s attendance standings, with an ever-growing group of loyal fans who fill the stands at Rhoads Stadium throughout the season. The 2008 campaign was a sellout, setting a new benchmark in season tickets sold with more than 1,200 allocated to loyal fans. During the 2009 season, Alabama broke the single-season attendance record formerly held by Fresno State. Then, in 2010, a record total of 80,690 fans were part of the atmosphere in Tuscaloosa followed by 68,110 that took in the Tide in 2011.

Attendance eventually topped the 90,000 mark in back-to-back seasons, with 91,541 fans in 2012 and 93,332 in 2013. Alabama led the nation in attendance in 2014 as well, welcoming 83,233 fans to Rhoads Stadium. In 2015, Alabama surpassed 90,000 for the third time in four years, as 90,021 fans made for yet another electric home season in Tuscaloosa. In 2016, Alabama became the first program in NCAA history to average over 3,000 fans per game.

Every coach in the nation would do anything to achieve those numbers, which stand as a tribute to what Murphy and his teams have achieved while illustrating the willingness of Tide fans to support a program that does things right, both on and off the field.

Murphy has turned his program into an absolute model of consistency, having guided Alabama to its first national title, 18 consecutive NCAA tournaments, and appearances in 11 Women’s College World Series (2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Since the Super Regional round was introduced to the NCAA Tournament in 2005, Alabama is the only team in the country to appear in all 12 series, winning nine of them.

Alabama’s coaching staff has been named the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year 10 times (2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016), including national staff of the year honors in 2012 following the team’s national title.

In 2012, a magical season for the Tide culminated in defeating Oklahoma for the NCAA Championship, the first in program history and the first for any SEC team. Alabama finished 60-8 and claimed its third straight SEC regular season championship. The Tide also won the SEC Tournament, becoming the first team ever to host the highly competitive tournament and come out champions. The NFCA ultimately named the Alabama coaches the 2012 National Coaching Staff of the Year.

Since taking over prior to the 1999 season, Murphy has compiled a winning record in all 18 seasons. He has won 45 or more games in each of the past 17 years, with a program-best 66 victories in 2000. Murphy also has won 20-plus games in conference play in 11 of his 18 seasons in the SEC. The 2008 campaign marked the third time he had posted 25 conference victories, matching the win totals from the 2006 and 2000 seasons.

Murphy’s ability to build and maintain the impressive level of consistency places him among the nation’s elite. He has a career mark of 941-255 (.787) in 18 seasons as the head coach at Alabama, including a 375-122 (.755) record in league play.

It is Murphy’s desire for perfection that has guided the Tide to the upper echelon of the softball world. His hard-nosed work ethic has led the program to as high as No. 1 in the national rankings, reached for the first time in program history during the 2007 season. The 2010 squad earned the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament after finishing the season on a 21-game winning streak, a run that saw the Tide capture both the SEC regular season and tournament titles.

Murphy officially acquired the title of Alabama’s head coach on July 12, 1998. He spent the previous two years as an assistant coach on the Crimson Tide coaching staff. In his first season as the head coach, Murphy took the team to its first NCAA Tournament en route to a 39-26 final record. The Tide lost to No. 1 UCLA and No. 23 Missouri in the Los Angeles Regional. In his second season, Murphy took the program to the next step, leading Alabama to its first-ever Women’s College World Series berth after the best regular season in school history. That 2000 team won a school-record 66 games (66-14) and 25 SEC games (25-5). They finished in the top 10 for the first time in school history, after earning a 6-4 victory over DePaul for the school’s first win in the WCWS.

One could almost say that Murphy was born to be on the diamond. In the third grade, the Fayette, Iowa, native put on his first baseball glove and took to the little league fields. Five years later, fresh out of the eighth grade, he made Fayette High School’s varsity baseball squad and played the next five years for five different coaches.

“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.”

After hanging up his spikes on his prep career, Murphy made the trip to the campus of the University of Northern Iowa where he spent the next four years. Murphy took his first job doing what he always had wanted to do, but on a smaller scale, when he became a little league head coach. Three years after taking that job, he graduated from Northern Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in history education.

Even with his youngest players on that team being close to his own age at the time, Murphy concedes that his first job as a head coach was where he learned the most about himself and the game.

“Those kids were baseball nuts,” he says. “They played baseball on the town tennis court because that was the only place in town that had lights. The lights would go off automatically at midnight, so that is when they knew they had to go home. They taught me so many things about the game of baseball. They played because they loved it so much.”

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 guided the Aces to the state championship game the next season. Following a short stay at Sumner, Murphy continued his education as a graduate student at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now known as Louisiana-Lafayette). While at USL, he broke into the collegiate coaching ranks as an assistant softball coach while finishing his master’s degree in communications in 1992.

“The head coach at USL knew I had coached baseball in Iowa and she told me about the job,” Murphy remembers. “It only paid six thousand dollars, but I was in grad school there and she asked me if I wanted another duty. That’s where it all started and I just got hooked.”

Prospering with the Ragin’ Cajuns through a five-year record (1990-94) of 239-46 – including a trip to the 1993 Women’s College World Series on the shoulders of former player and current Alabama associate head coach Alyson Habetz – Murphy moonlighted as head coach of the Independence Iowa high school baseball team from 1992-95. Due to the high recognition of his duties as an assistant coach at USL, along with the solid success of his duties as a high school coach, Murphy was hired as interim head coach at Northwest Missouri State in 1995. Although he was officially hired only three weeks before spring practice in 1995, Murphy led the Bearcats to a 28-20 record.

Murphy has proven himself to be a leader capable of recruiting and developing talented players who perform on the field and in the classroom. Combining that with the lure of athletic tradition at Alabama and the nation’s finest facilities, the Tide softball team remains among the best in the nation.

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Alyson Habetz

If Patrick Murphy has been the face of the Alabama softball program throughout its entirety, Alyson Habetz certainly has played a huge role of her own in developing the Tide into one of the nation’s elite. Currently in her 19th season on Murphy’s staff in 2017, Habetz earned a promotion of her own when Murphy named her associate head coach in the summer of 2007.

Habetz brings a wealth of softball and baseball knowledge to the Crimson Tide softball staff. She joined on Sept. 21, 1998, in the program’s third year. During her tenure, Habetz has helped Murphy lead the Tide to 11 Women's College World Series appearances, including its first national championship in 2012, along with five SEC regular season titles and four SEC Tournament titles.

Habetz’s primary duties include outfield play and team offense. She also contributes significantly to the evaluation of recruits.

“Alyson is a great role model for our players and future recruits,” Murphy says. “She is one of the most outstanding people I have met. She was a dream to coach and she is even better to coach with. I think she’s the best assistant coach in the country. She has turned down several head coaching jobs already and she keeps getting better and better each year.”

During her time in Tuscaloosa, Crimson Tide outfielders have consistently earned NFCA All-America accolades, including four-time All-Americans Kelly Kretschman (1998-2001), Brittany Rogers (2006-09) and Haylie McCleney (2013-16).

Habetz began her stint at Alabama following a four-year career in women’s professional baseball. She joined the pitching rotation with the Colorado Silver Bullets women’s professional baseball team in 1995 following her collegiate playing career. Habetz played with the Silver Bullets for three years before joining the Long Beach Aces of the now defunct women’s professional baseball league, as a first baseman and pitcher in 1998.

After her first season with the Silver Bullets, Habetz made the trip to Cooperstown, N.Y., for the opening of a section in the National Baseball Hall of Fame recognizing the Colorado Silver Bullets team. Her good friend and favorite sports hero Tommy Lasorda was on hand for the ceremony.

After spending two years fighting the issue in the state courts, Habetz became the first female in the state of Louisiana to play high school baseball, garnering all-district honors as a first baseman and pitcher at Notre Dame High School (in Crowley, La.) while earning all-state honors as a basketball player.

Habetz also excelled in the classroom, representing the NDHS class of 1990 as its salutatorian before earning an academic scholarship to the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette), where she had earned a basketball scholarship.

While displaying her talents as a basketball player at USL, Habetz was a member of the softball team, earning third team All-America, All-South Region, All-Louisiana and Academic All-America honors with the Ragin’ Cajuns. While at USL, she played for a staff that included Murphy, who was an assistant coach in Lafayette.

Habetz helped lead the Cajuns to an appearance in the 1993 Women’s College World Series. As a member of the basketball team, Habetz etched her name in the record books, settling in at No. 7 all-time on the career scoring list en route to earning membership in the 1,000-point club. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 1995.

Habetz was a 2006 inductee into the Louisiana High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame. She also is enshrined in the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Sports Hall of Fame, where she was inducted in 2003.

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Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro

Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro enters her sixth season as the University of Alabama’s pitching coach in 2017.

In her first season guiding the Alabama pitching staff in 2012, she helped the Crimson Tide win its first national championship. Behind the right arm of Jaclyn Traina, the 2012 team rolled through the postseason, winning the Southeastern Conference regular season title for the third-straight year and then claiming the SEC Tournament title before advancing through the NCAA Regional and Super Regional rounds and finally capturing the coveted national championship.

Prothro was instrumental in the development of Traina. In her first season as the ace of the staff, Traina was named an NFCA first team All-American and the SEC Pitcher of the Year. Traina led the nation with a school record 42 wins and struck out 361 batters, another Tide all-time best. The following season in 2013, Traina again earned NFCA and Easton All-America honors. As a senior in 2014, Traina was again named a First Team All-American and took home SEC Pitcher of the Year honors, helping lead the Tide to a runner-up finish at the Women’s College World Series.

In 2015, Prothro oversaw a pitching staff that included SEC Freshman of the Year Alexis Osorio, a First Team All-American and top three finalists for the NFCA Freshman of the Year award. Sophomore Sydney Littlejohn also threw a pair of perfect games, becoming the first Tide pitcher to throw a perfect game since Prothro did so as a player for Alabama in 2006. Littlejohn was tabbed a Second Team All-American in 2016 and earned national accolades following two wins on the road against then-top ranked Florida during the regular season.

Prothro was named Alabama’s pitching coach on July 5, 2011, returning to Tuscaloosa after spending one season as the head coach at Samford. Prior to serving as Samford’s head coach, she spent the previous two years as the head coach at Birmingham Southern College. She posted a record of 57-14 in her two seasons with the Panthers, for an impressive .803 winning percentage.

In her first season as a head coach in 2009, Prothro led the Panthers to a 32-5 record. The team broke 13 program records, including the mark for wins in a season. Her first team posted a .364 team batting average and 1.19 ERA. Prothro’s 2010 team then finished with a record of 25-9 overall and 12-4 in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

Prior to becoming head coach at Birmingham-Southern, Prothro spent the 2008 season as an assistant coach on the BSC staff. That season, the Panthers earned a 32-28 record for the first 30-win season in program history. She also helped coach four All-Big South Conference players and two CoSIDA Academic All-District honorees.

Prothro played professionally in National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) for the Philadelphia Force prior to being hired at Birmingham-Southern. She also served as a 2007 student assistant coach at her alma mater, with the Tide going 55-10 during that season.

During her stellar career at Alabama from 2003 to 2006, Prothro helped the Crimson Tide win its first Southeastern Conference regular season title in 2006 plus SEC Tournament championships in 2003 and 2005. She earned SEC Tournament MVP honors in 2005 and was named SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2006.

Prothro helped her team make NCAA Regional and Super Regional appearances during all four of her years at Alabama, as well as three NCAA College World Series appearances (2003, 2005, 2006).

A native of Chambersburg, Pa., Prothro was named a NFCA second team All-American in 2005 and 2006. She was named SEC Pitcher of the Year and was one of 10 finalists for the Collegiate Player of the Year as a senior in 2006. She also was named to the SEC Honor Roll and the Academic All-SEC Team all four of her years at Alabama.

Prothro’s other playing honors included 2003 Region VIII Tournament MVP, NFCA All-South Region in 2003, 2005 and 2006, and NFCA All-American in 2005 and 2006. She also earned all-conference honors each of her four years at Alabama and was named the 2003 SEC Freshman of the Year.

Prothro earned a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from Alabama in 2007. She and her husband, Quintin Prothro, currently reside in Northport, Ala.

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