Across the Diamond: What It Means to Wear the Crimson and White
For many children growing up and playing sports in the state of Alabama, their dream is to suit up for the Crimson Tide.
Home grown products such as Kenny Stabler, Lee Roy Jordan, Cornelius Bennett, Johnny Musso, DeMeco Ryans and Julio Jones has made Alabama football into the one of the most recognizable brands in American sports.
Although the other sports on campus do not have the instant name recognition of Alabama football, Alabama softball continues to carve their own tradition of excellence.
Continuing into his 21st season as head softball coach, Patrick Murphy has taken the softball program to 11 Women's College World Series appearances and a national championship in 2012.
Similar to football, Yellowhammer State natives such as Jazlyn Lunceford, Whitney Larsen, Mandy Burford-Johnson and Haylie McCleney have helped build a powerhouse tradition in Tuscaloosa..
During the course of a season, Alabama softball honors their seniors in a unique way with senior days highlighting each individual senior on the roster. This weekend, the program honored catcher Reagan Dykes on Saturday and infielder Caroline Hardy on Sunday.
Both seniors excelled on their senior days as Dykes went 2-7 with three RBIs in two games against Missouri State and Minnesota including a two-run home run against the Golden Gophers while Hardy had a two-run shot of her own against Louisiana-Monroe.
Over the weekend, Dykes and Hardy spoke about their experiences of playing in the crimson and white.
Growing up about an hour away in Birmingham, Hardy described the fulfillment of a life long dream of playing at Alabama along with the emotions of her own senior day Sunday.
"I always wanted to go to Alabama. I always dreamed about this. I can remember coming to Charlotte Morgan's senior day. She was No. 34 and I was like, 'I want that to be me', and so it was surreal having this moment. I was very emotional. I was crying a lot before the game. It was awesome." Hardy said.
Although Dykes grew up in Collins, Mississippi, she also expressed a similar dream growing up when it comes to playing in the crimson and white.
"It was a dream growing up just to play softball at Alabama. Being from Mississippi, I would come to the games and come to the camps all the time. I loved Murph (Patrick Murphy), Aly (associate head coach Alyson Habetz), Steph (assistant coach Stephanie VanBrakle Prothro)." Dykes said.
In addition to the skills on the diamond, Alabama's senior catcher described the values that the program has instilled in her since her first day as a freshman in the fall of 2015.
"Coming in as a freshman to now, I've learned so much through them. They've taught me so many different leadership skills and just how to be a servant leader and how to put others before yourself and serve others." Dykes said.
Although the two seniors will be ending their college careers at the end of the season, Hardy believes there is a lot to look forward to with this year's squad.
"There's no one else I'd rather be here with than the girls on this team." Hardy said. "There's something about these girls that is so exciting and I just can't wait to see where it's going to take us."
Alabama softball makes the trip to Birmingham for their first midweek game Wednesday at 6 PM against UAB.