From a humble start to a national championship, Patrick 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 been 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. 2012 national champions, eight Women’s College World Series berths, four SEC titles and 14 straight NCAA Tournament bids are just a few of the team honors Murphy has brought to Tuscaloosa during his tenure.
The individual honors are just as impressive. Tide players have earned All-American honors over 74 times under Murphy’s watch. He has tutored 78 All-SEC performers and over 69 All-Region honorees. His teams have been just as successful in the classroom, with12 Academic All-Americans and 152 All-SEC Academic selections to his credit.
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 going to loyal fans. The 2009 season Alabama broke the single season attendance record formerly held by Fresno State. In 2010, a record 80,690 fans were part of the atmosphere in Tuscaloosa. 68,110 took in the Tide in 2011, with nearly half a million watching the Tide since the first pitch of the first game. Those numbers are what every softball coach in the nation would do anything to achieve and stand as a tribute both to what Murphy and his team have achieved and to the willingness of Tide fans to support a program that does things right, both on and off the field.
With the conclusion ofhis 14th season as the head coach of the Crimson Tide, Murphy has turned his program into an absolute model of consistency, having guided Alabama to its first national title, 14 consecutive NCAA tournaments, including appearances in the 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 Women’s College World Series.
2012 proved to be magical for the Tide as it claimed the programs first ever national championship, defeating Oklahoma in the championship series. 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 in the league to host the highly competitive tournament and come out champions. For his efforts, the NFCA named the Alabama coaches the National Coaching Staff of the Year.
In 2011, the Tide returned to Oklahoma City, winning the first two games in the tournament for the first time in program history. UA finished 53-11, marking the seventh straight season Murphy has guided the Tide to 50 or more wins. Alabama secured its second straight SEC regular season title, finishing 19-6 in the league.
Individually, four Tide players earned NFCA All-America honors. Kelsi Dunne, on the strength of earning her second straight SEC Pitcher of the Year accolade, was named to the NFCA first team and was joined by Kayla Braud and freshman Jackie Traina. Whitney Larsen was named to the second team. Dunne, Braud and Larsen also garnered All-SEC honor and were joined by Amanda Locke. Kaila Hunt was named to the SEC All-Freshmen team while Dunne, Kendall Dawson and Jazlyn Lunceford were tabbed to the SEC All-Defensive team. Once again Murphy and his staff were named the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year.
In 2010, Murphy eclipsed the 650-win mark en route to leading the Crimson Tide to SEC regular season and tournament championships. For their efforts the Alabama coaching staff was once again named the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year. Alabama finished with a 52-11 record and a 23-4 conference mark en route to earning the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Individually, Charlotte Morgan was named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, Kelsi Dunne was awarded SEC Pitcher of the Year, Kayla Braud was tabbed the SEC Freshman of the Year and Murphy earned SEC Coach of the Year honors. Morgan, Dunne and Braud all earned NFCA All-American accolades.
In 2009, Murphy and his staff were named the NFCA South Region Coaching Staff of the Year for the fifth time after leading Alabama to a 54-11overall record. UA tied its longest run in the WCWS by finishing with a 2-2 mark in Oklahoma City.
Alabama had three players earn 2009 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-America honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association The Crimson Tide led the nation with three first-team selections as Kelsi Dunne and Charlotte Morgan. Senior centerfielder Brittany Rogers also garnered second-team honors.
Since taking over prior to the 1999 season, he has compiled a winning record in all 13 seasons. He has won 45 or more games in each of the past 12 years with a program-best 66 victories in 2000 and 63 wins in 2005. Murphy has also won over 20 games in conference play in 10 of his 12 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 715-210 in 14 seasons, including one year at Northwest Missouri State. His winning percentage of .773 ranks him fourth among active NCAA Division I coaches who have coached at least five years at the Division I level. He has been just as successful in the always competitive Southeastern Conference with a 287-86 (.769) record in league play.
It is his desire for perfection that has led the Tide to the upper echelon of the softball world. Murphy’s desire and hard-nosed work ethic has led the Tide program to as high as No. 1 in the national rankings, reached for the first time in program history during the 2007 regular season and continued through the 2011 season. The Tide has finished ranked in the top 10 in the final polls in each of the past seven campaigns. The 2010 squad earned the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament after finishing the season on a 21-game winning streak, in which the Tide captured both the SEC regular season and tournament titles.
Entering his 20th season as a collegiate coach, Murphy officially acquired the title of Alabama’s head coach on July 12, 1998. He spent the two previous years as an assistant coach on the Crimson Tide coaching staff. In his first season as the head coach he took the team to its first NCAA Tournament with a 39-26 record. The Tide lost to No. 1 UCLA and No. 23 Missouri in the Los Angeles Regional. In his second season, he took the program to the next step, leading Alabama to it’s 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 ranked 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.
Alabama continued its success in 2001 when it hosted the NCAA Regional for the first time. The Tide ended the season ranked No. 10 with a 50-11 record and 24-6 SEC mark. In 2002, they went 46-21 (22-8 SEC) and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Murphy took the Tide back to the Women’s College World Series in 2003. After winning his first SEC Championship as a head coach, the team swept the NCAA Regional to advance to the WCWS where they lost two close games, 3-2, to No. 1 Arizona and 6-3 (9) to No. 4 Oklahoma. Alabama finished ranked No. 7 with a 49-21 record (22-8 SEC).
The 2004 team posted a 45-20 mark but had to travel to No. 4 UCLA for the NCAA Regional and lost twice to the Bruins. However, the next season they were back at the Women’s College World Series. The 2005 squad tallied the second most wins in school history with a 63-15 record and 23-7 SEC ledger. They won the school’s third SEC Tournament Championship with a 2-0 victory over Georgia and swept the NCAA Regional to earn the right to travel to College Station for a two-game sweep over No. 5 Texas A&M in the Super Regional. In the WCWS, they earned a 12-inning, 2-1, victory over DePaul before they were eliminated with a 4-0 loss to Tennessee.
A product of Fayette, Iowa, one could almost say he was born to be around the game of baseball. In the third grade, young Murphy 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 (IA) 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,” he said. “My high school was such a small school that I got to play varsity baseball in eighth grade and, every year, I had a different coach and, every year, it was something different I learned, either good or bad, from that coach. My senior year, I tried to put everything together I had learned from all the different coaches and came up with a good coach.”
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 had always wanted to do, however, 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 not being much younger than himself, 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 said. “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 just 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 led 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 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. So I said `Sure, I’ll try it.’ 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 (IA) 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 got a job as interim head coach at Northwest Missouri State in 1995. Although he was officially hired just 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.
• Seven College World Series appearances (2011, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2005, 2003 and 2000)
• 13-straight NCAA Tournament appearances (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999)
• Three SEC Championship (2011, 2010, 2006)
• Three SEC Tournament Championships (2010, 2005, 2003)
• Two-time SEC Coach of Year (2010, 2006)
• Most wins in school history (684)
• Best winning percentage in school history (.783)
• Most wins in a season in school history (66)
• Most wins in the country-66 (2000)
• Consecutive Top-10 ranking (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2001, 2000)
• Seven-time South Region Coaching Staff of the Year (2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2006, 2003 and 2000)
• 35 NFCA All-Americans
• 38 Easton All-Americans
• 63 All-South Region Selections
• 70 All-SEC Selections
• Most SEC wins in a season in UA history (25)
• Nine Academic All-Americans
• 138 Academic All-SEC Selections
• Nine NCAA Regional All-Tournament team selections
• Six World Series All-Tournament team selections
• 53 SEC Player of the Week selections
• Youngest coach in SEC history to reach 100 wins
• Hitting coach for Canadian National Team in 2004 Olympics
• 2009 and 2010 Team USA Assistant Coach
• Current NFCA President
THE MURPHY FILE
Born: November 28, 1965
Birthplace: Waterloo, Iowa
High School: Fayette High School
Northern Iowa, 1988 B.S. in History Education
Southwestern Louisiana, 1992, MS in Mass Communication
Head Softball Coach
University of Alabama, 1998 -present
Assistant Softball Coach
University of Alabama, 1996 – 1998
Interim Head Softball Coach
Northwest Missouri State, 1995
Head Baseball Coach
Independence (IA) HS, 1992 – 1995
Assistant Softball Coach
Southwestern Louisiana, 1990 – 1994
Head Baseball Coach
Sumner (IA) HS, 1988 – 1990