Murphy Introduced as LSU Softball Coach

LSU's Patrick Murphy
LSU's Patrick Murphy
Steve Franz
Matt Dunaway
Matt Dunaway

BATON ROUGE - Patrick Murphy, who led Alabama to 684 victories, seven Women's College World Series appearances and six SEC Championships, was officially introduced as LSU's new head softball coach on Friday. 

Murphy leaves Tuscaloosa for the program previously coached by his mentor and Hall of Famer Yvette Girouard. The Waterloo, Iowa, native comes to Baton Rouge with a career .772 winning percentage, fourth-highest in NCAA history.

Alyson Habetz, Alabama's Associate Head Coach, will also join Murphy at LSU. Habetz, a native of Crowley, was a NFCA Third Team All-American and a member of the 1993 WCWS team at Louisiana-Lafayette during her playing days.  Habetz has been a member of Murphy's staff at Alabama for 13 years.

"We are very excited to bring Patrick to LSU to lead our softball program," LSU vice chancellor and director of athletics Joe Alleva said. "Patrick has done an outstanding job building Alabama into one of the nation's premier programs. When Yvette (Girouard) retired we lost a Hall of Fame coach. We feel like we are replacing Yvette with a future Hall of Famer." 

Murphy guided the Crimson Tide to a 53-11 mark and a third place finish at the 2011Women's College World Series. Alabama also won its second straight SEC regular season championship under the direction of Murphy in 2011. The Crimson Tide had four players notch NFCA All-American honors and five garner All-SEC selections, including two-time SEC Pitcher of the Year, Kelsi Dunne.

In 13 seasons at the helm of the Alabama program, Murphy racked up an impressive 684-190 overall record and 13 straight NCAA Regional appearances. The Crimson Tide garnered a 287-76 clip in SEC action en route to six league championships - three tournament and three regular season. 

In addition to its regular season SEC title in 2011, Alabama also garnered regular season league titles under Murphy during 2006 and 2010. The Crimson Tide secured SEC Tournament titles in 2003, 2005 and 2010.  

Alabama reached 50 wins nine times under Murphy highlighted by seven straight seasons of 50 or more wins dating back to 2005. The Crimson Tide posted a pair of 60-win campaigns in 2000 and 2005 on their way to the WCWS in addition to trips in 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2011. 

Individually, 18 players earned NFCA All-American honors, 126 were named Academic All-SEC and seven garnered Academic All-American honors. Murphy's coaching staff was earned NFCA South Region Staff of the Year on six different occasions.

Murphy coached the 1995 season as the interim head coach at Northwest Missouri State, going 28-20. He comes to LSU with an overall record of 712-210 in 14 seasons as a head coach.

Murphy graduated from University of Northern Iowa with a B.S. in History Education in 1988 and earned his master's degree four years later in Mass Communication while serving as Girouard's top assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette.

VICE CHANCELLOR AND DIRECTOR OF ATHLETICS JOE ALLEVA

Opening Statement ...

"This is a great day for LSU softball. I couldn't be more proud or honored to have Patrick Murphy as our new head coach. This was a very different search than a lot of them I've been a part of in my years in this business. This was a very targeted search. We made up our mind that we wanted him to be our head coach. We went after him, and we got him. We have had a great tradition of softball here. We ended an era of a Hall of Fame head coach [Yvette Girouard], a lady that I tremendously respect, and now we're going to enter an era with a potential Hall of Fame head coach [Patrick Murphy]. This program's not only going to stay the same, I think it's going to get even better as we go forward. I'm tremendously excited. It's great to have Alyson [Habetz] here with him. I think together they're a tremendous team. It's great to see the members of our team here. I hope you're happy because I think the future is really bright. Without further adieu, our new head coach, Patrick Murphy."

LSU HEAD COACH PATRICK MURPHY

Opening Statement ...

"I can't believe I'm standing up here. It's an incredible honor to join the long line of incredible coaches here at LSU. Already it's a family atmosphere. We had a short meeting with the team, and I thought that went incredibly well. It's fitting that I started my career a little bit down the road [at Louisiana-Lafayette], and hopefully I'll finish my career in Louisiana at LSU. Many of you probably don't know this, but when I went to graduate school at USL [now ULL] every Tuesday or Wednesday night when LSU played baseball at home I drove [to Baton Rouge]. I was the biggest Ben McDonald fan, and I loved Todd Walker. I had LSU baseball t-shirts, and I wore them until I wore them out. It's also fitting that I'm back in purple and gold because my alma mater Northern Iowa is purple and gold.

"I need to thank Joe (Alleva) and (Senior Associate AD/Senior Woman Administrator) Miriam (Segar), because this was an incredible opportunity for me. I got a phone call and Joe said 'This is the one call and hopefully it'll be one call only.' That's never happened before in college softball. It showed me right then and there how much LSU really cares about softball. They just set the bar about 15 years in advance for college softball coaches, I truly believe that. You've already given me a shot of confidence, and I really appreciate that because it means a lot.

"I have to thank a bunch of friends and family members in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, because I spent 15 years there and it was an incredible ride. They're some of the best softball fans in the country. I definitely wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my 13 years as head coach and two years as assistant. I really want to say thank you to some individuals that helped me get to this spot. Vann Stuedeman, Kate Petullo, Skip Powers, Marie Robbins, Nick Seiler, Michelle Diltz, Jason Nance, Heather Anders, Matt Self, Dr. Jeff Laubenthal, Ashley Waters, Kimberly Johnson and Beverly Chandler. That was all the support staff at Alabama, and they did a great job for me. I'm really going to miss them. The toughest part of this for me was telling my players [at Alabama] that I was leaving. Believe me when I say it was the toughest thing I've ever had to do. The toughest thing about that is when I would call them the first thing they would say to me is 'Are you doing OK?' That's that type of kids we had at Alabama, and that's the type of kids we want at LSU because they were great people. It's a testament to the type of kids we recruited there.

"One of the cool by-products of this move is an opportunity to bring a young lady home, and half of Crowley is here. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Alyson Habetz, who's been with me for 13 years. She actually played for [Yvette] Girouard and I at USL [now ULL]. She actually walked on to the softball team because she was recruited for college basketball. She was a 1,000 point scorer, and she ended up being an All-American first baseman for us. I told the players earlier that they will not have a better female athlete role model than Alyson. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you coming with me and everything that you've done for me the past 13 years because you are the best assistant coach in the country. I truly believe that, I appreciate everything you've done for me.

"One last person I have to thank, and she is the reason I'm here, is Yvette Girouard. She's the reason I got my start in softball. I was actually a Sports Information Director, and I came back from coaching baseball in Iowa and her assistant coach had left. She grabbed me in the hallway and said 'I have a proposition for you. How about taking on another duty? How about assistant coach?' I said 'Sure, I'll try it.' She was the last person I talked to before I accepted this, and I asked her to tell me why I should come here. She told me it's a great city, it's a great university, it's a great athletic department and you have some great kids you're about to work with. Thank you very much, I appreciate it.

"I don't think many coaches in the country can say they coached at Alabama, and definitely not many coaches can say they had the opportunity to not only coach at Alabama, but also coach at a great school like LSU. I can think of one person that has done that [current Alabama football coach Nick Saban], and he's done pretty good. I appreciate everyone being here, thank you very much."

On the timeline of his hiring ...
"We had a tough end to the season. On Monday, we got on the chartered plane in Oklahoma City and flew home. When I was getting off the plane in Tuscaloosa, I received a phone call and noticed the phone number had a 225 area code. I thought for sure that it was Yvette Girouard, but I thought I had her phone number stored in my phone. I did not answer the call because I was getting my luggage at the time. When I got home, I realized it was Vice Chancellor/Director of Athletics Joe Alleva. He said 'Hopefully this is the only call that I am going to have to make. You are the guy we want and if you are interested, let me know'. I think Senior Associate Athletic Director/Senior Woman Administrator Miriam Segar might have called later that day. The process took about four days to complete, and today is the fifth day."

On his current impression of the LSU softball team ...
"Our weekend in Baton Rouge was not very good. We got beat three times this season. I only did that because I knew Yvette Girouard was retiring, and I wanted to send her out on a good note. The history of softball here is incredible. I remember playing at the old Tiger Park. There were some incredible battles between LSU and Alabama. Britni Sneed, Kristin Schmidt and Dani Hofer come to mind. They had some very good athletes, and there were some incredible games between the two teams. What I liked most about today was that when we spoke to the team, almost every player had two eyes looking at me. I really appreciate that and I could tell they were looked in and I think they are ready to go."

On LSU's vision for the softball program ...
"To my knowledge, the way LSU went about hiring me has never happened in the sport of softball. Usually what happens is the administration compiles coaches' resumes and applications to go through. The way LSU went about it in my mind only happens in football and men's basketball. It also probably happened with the recent hiring of women's basketball coach Nikki Caldwell. What they did was a huge statement to me because nobody does that. To say 'this is the one person that we want' was very flattering to me. To me it said that LSU is doing the right things, and they're not putting softball on the back burner. It should also say a lot to the players because it is an incredible opportunity."

On his goals for the LSU softball program ...
"Tiger Park is awesome. It is probably one of the top five softball stadiums in the country. I know LSU had over 600 season ticket holders this year. My goal right now is to have 1,000 season ticket holders [for next season]. At Alabama, we worked in small increments in building attendance. I started at 750 fans, then went to 1,000 and then increased the goal to 1,250. Finally I said 'let's sell it out'. I probably sent out 15,000 emails asking people to purchase season tickets and eventually we sold out of season tickets. Once fans come, they are hooked. So, the first goal is to get the stands filled. I know all fall our coaching staff is going to be putting in our system, philosophy and fundamentals. Softball and baseball are repetition sports, so it will be repetition after repetition after repetition. The players might think that we are going to do the same thing over and over again, but if you do that one thing really well, then you are probably going to win some games."

On how he first became a softball coach ...
"After my first year of graduate school at UL-Lafayette, I returned home to Iowa. Iowa high schools play baseball and softball in the summer. My coaching idol growing up was [former Indiana basketball coach] Bobby Knight. I love college basketball, and I am a college sports fanatic. I always thought I was going to be a college basketball coach, but when I returned to UL-Lafayette after the summer, Yvette Girouard knew that I had coached baseball in the past. She knew that I could walk, chew gum and maybe use a fungo bat. She asked me if I wanted to be her assistant coach. Five years later, we were in the NCAA Tournament, went five consecutive years and eventually made it to the College World Series. Coach Girouard was the South Region Coach of the Year five times and she was the National Coach of the Year twice, and she hooked me into coaching."

On bringing assistant coach Alyson Habetz with him to LSU ... "When my phone rang, I initially thought Joe Alleva was going to ask about Alyson. It was tough for me because I did not know how exactly the situation was going to play out. I called Alyson and asked her what she thought about coming to LSU, and she was indecisive. When I asked her what she thought about coming to LSU as my assistant, she told me that it was a no-brainer. I think we are a great tandem as we have been together for 13 years. She knows exactly what I want. I stay out of her way and she stays out of mine."

On his thoughts of succeeding Yvette Girouard ...
"I think my career has came full-circle. She [Girouard] gave me my first coaching job. Now I hope to make her proud and win the first SEC softball national championship because I'm tired of this conference not having one."

On what distinguishes LSU from other SEC softball programs ...
"The first thing that stands out is the great fan support. Any time you come to LSU for any sport, you are in for a battle because of the fans. We also have great facilities, and the weather here is very conducive for softball. There is a pool of athletes in this area that as well. We are going to try to keep the athletes from Louisiana in state and Texas is only three hours down the road. Everything is in place to have a championship program."

On his coaching staff ...
"The last position on our staff that we need to fill is the pitching coach. We have had some inquiries already, and we are focusing on finding someone to fill that position. We definitely want a former pitcher that has pitched in big games and has the experience because I think there is a huge difference between a former pitcher and someone that played another position. I think it's key for a softball pitcher to have someone that has pitcher before in the dugout and in the bullpen working with her all the time."

 

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