Alabama Softball And The Meaning of Mudita


Alabama softball made another run at a national championship this year. While there were plenty of good softball programs this year, what separated the Crimson Tide from the pack was something other than talent on the field; it was the unity between the players.

For Alabama, how well a player will fit into the program is as important to head coach Patrick Murphy as their talent. He knows that having talented players may bring wins, but having talented players who all mesh together well will bring championships and leave legacies. And that’s exactly what happened this season at Alabama.

Seniors Jaclyn Traina, Kaila Hunt, Ryan Iamurri, Molly Fitchner, and Jordan Patterson are leaving with not only several SEC championships and the program’s first NCAA title, but they are leaving behind something even better: a legacy.

Over the past few seasons, Alabama has shown that unity brings their team together in ways many might think unimaginable.

In the 2012 WCWS championship game, Alabama’s team was on the field cheering in the rain while Oklahoma’s girls were sitting in the dugout. During that season, the team’s motto was: FINISH IT, and that’s exactly what they did. A controversial T-shirt that Alabama reflected that moment: Why hunker in the dugout, when you can dance in the rAin?

This season, after many players on that national championship team had graduated, this years’ senior leadership helped the Tide make it to the championship finals again.

This year Alabama’s motto was summed up in the Sanskrit term Mudita, defined as being ‘especially sympathetic or vicarious joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being rather than begrudging it.’

Alabama’s passion and hard work showed every single game on the field and in the dugout. When one girl scored, they all celebrated in unity as a team. When freshmen Marisa Runyon and Peyton Grantham made clutch plays in several games, the team celebrated as a unified team. If a player made an error, dropped a catch, or struck out, no one pointed fingers or placed blame; they just used it as fueling the fire to win. Each player had a role, whether it was as a starter, pinch-hitter, pinch-runner, role model, or leader.

“It’s easy to play and start and bat third every game. It’s not easy to do what they do,” UA coach Patrick Murphy said of the team’s role players. “The nine that don’t play are the reason we win.” They are the true definition of Mudita.

Although the Tide lost in the championship game to Florida, Alabama’s legacy and motto proved that these girls were one of the real winners in the 2014 Women’s College World Series.

Jordan Patterson, a senior catcher on the team, said it best: