Ashley Prange is gone from the hot corner for Alabama softball. She graduated and took her talents 50 miles up the highway to UAB as an assistant coach.

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So who steps in at third for Team 28 and Patrick Murphy?

Turns out, it's a familiar face. A former starter at both shortstop and second.

Welcome to the Alabama hot corner, Bailey Dowling.

"At the beginning of the fall, [Dowling] started playing a lot of third," Murphy said. "She really looks pretty comfortable there. She was a shortstop in high school and summer ball. Played second base and shortstop for us.

"When Ashley Prange graduated, a two-year starter, that spot is open, and [Dowling]'s a smart kid. She goes over to third base and keeps getting better and better.

"It takes a lot of guts to play third in college softball. You're basically playing 50 to 45 feet from the batter every pitch. If you don't have he guts to do it, you're not going to play well there. You have to be pretty brave, but she's been doing really well there."

Kenleigh Cahalan is the returner at short. Other positions are being battled for in the infield. per Murphy.

And Dowling? Whither third base?

"I feel like I'm just a good infield utility at this point," the senior said. "Wherever Murph needs me, that's where I'm at. It's been a lot of fun to be able to go from short to second to third, and just be whatever the coaches need me.

"I think my favorite part is when the slappers get up, because you're always in their face, and they can either throw a good bunt down or slap it hard right at you. That actually happened in the scrimmage the other day. It's always fun to have a good reaction."

After a knee injury, Dowling mainly batted as a DP last year. She's glad to get the fielding glove back on. "After I got hurt, it was just hard to come back from it. I blew my whole knee out. That's just hard. It was trauma, for sure, to come back from.

"But I definitely feel really good this year. I feel normal, so I'm excited."

Here's this weekend's schedule, and all games can be heard on MeTV 97.5:

Alabama Softball at the Buzz Classic (Atlanta, Ga.)

  • Thursday, Feb. 8 vs. Villanova – 5 p.m. CT
  • Friday, Feb. 9 vs. Longwood – 10 a.m. CT
  • Friday, Feb. 9 at Georgia Tech – 3 p.m. CT
  • Saturday, Feb. 10 vs. Longwood – 12:30 p.m. CT
  • Saturday, Feb. 10 at Georgia Tech – 3 p.m. CT

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Gallery Credit: Buck Wilde

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