With the Crimson Tide softball team off to an impressive 20-4 start, I had the chance to make the trek to Rhoads Stadium to take in the Saturday contest with the Gamecocks this past weekend. Bama would pound South Carolina 10-5 en route to a 3-0 weekend sweep of USCe.
The team itself is mechanical. They are an impressive unit to watch, full of the kind of spunk and zeal you’d like any athletic team to possess. But the team was only part of what impressed me so much.
First, the stadium is amazing. The largest softball facility in the country, Rhoads Stadium is a testimony to excellence for a program that exudes excellence. The argument can be made, what came first, the excellence or the stadium?
That’s a tough call. The Bama softball program was born in 1997, and two years later made its first NCAA Tournament appearance.. The Tide has danced into the tourney every year since. The stadium was built in 2000, but in 2009 received major facility upgrades that would make many minor league baseball teams salivate.
The Tide softball program gets it. More accurately, you can say the Athletic Department gets it when it comes to Alabama softball. As already mentioned, the team hasn’t been left out of post-season play since 1999, but Bama has also made it to the college softball world series on eight of those occasions. So it’s natural to reward excellence with excellence.
What’s more, the enthusiasm inside the stadium isn’t generated. It’s an overflow of the product on the field. From warm-ups…which included some unreal, physical drills that from my seat looked risky prior to a game…to the final out…in our case a diving face plant by left fielder Kallie Case worth the price of admission just to see…the reaction to the effort you’re seeing is anything but manufactured.
But the price of admission is also reasonable. The team offers a “family four-pack” on Fridays and Saturdays, where for $10 a ticket you get admission, a hot dog, drink and chips. Your seats are in the brick yard, a grassy area in center and right field, but there isn’t a bad seat in the house. Saturday’s weather was so amazing, the seating couldn’t have been better. Bring a blanket or camping chair and you’re in business.
Or, better yet, take in the game from the concourse area down the right field line, complete with tables and drink rails. The food was also spot on. Of course, I don’t know when I’ve ever had a “bad” stadium hot dog.
Top to bottom, if you’ve never made it to a softball game, let me give you some advice. Do. It’s a great, affordable experience for the whole family, supporting a program at the Capstone that “gets it.”
For ticket information call (205) 348-BAMA, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For future Tide opponents click here.