The reigning national champions will take the field at the UNI-Dome on Friday night, but we’re not talking about football. UNI is set to host NCAA softball champion Alabama in the first game of this year’s season-opening UNI-Dome Classic. The Crimson Tide is coached by UNI alum Patrick Murphy, who says it’ll be a thrill to bring his team to his alma mater.
“I think they are going to be shocked at how many people are going to be there, I’ve heard from so many friends and family,” Murphy says. He says he’s heard from friends and family in several other states who are coming to watch the game.
Murphy began his career as a high school baseball coach at Sumner just after graduating from UNI. He says that since the Tide won the College World Series last summer, he’s heard from everyone from UNI classmates to former baseball players to fans of other SEC softball teams.
He says the response from everyone has been heartwarming, as the SEC had never won a softball national title. Murphy has been at Alabama since the program’s inception in 1997, and is entering his fifteenth season as head coach. He says being a part of the process of building the program has made the national title that much sweeter.
“I know everybody that’s played, I know every manager, I know the moms and dads of every player, I know the husbands of the players, if they have kids, so it’s truly been a family atmosphere,” Murphy says.
Joining Murphy on the trip to Iowa is Iowa’s all-time high school homerun leader, Jadyn Spencer of Waterloo West, who is now a sophomore utility player for the Crimson Tide. Murphy expects Spencer to play a larger role on the team this season.
The Panthers and the Crimson Tide face off at 7:00 Friday night inside the Dome.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls