NOTEBOOK: Softball freshman has impressive debut

Softball outfielder Haylie McCleney opened her career with the Crimson Tide with a bang, batting .722 with nine runs scored, two home runs and five stolen bases in this past weekend's UNI-Dome tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa. UA swept the tournament, winning five games.
She went 13-for-18 at the plate and also had four RBIs, two doubles, a triple and two walks.
McCleney reached base three or more times in each game and had three hits in four of the five games. She also scored at least one run every game and stole one base or more in four of the games on top of playing stellar defense.
In the win against Drake, she went 3-for-4, with an inside-the-park home run, a triple, scored twice and drove in two. Against North Dakota State, McCleney went 3-for-3, scored three runs, hit a double and a home run and stole a base.
The top-ranked and defending national champion Alabama had its home opener against South Alabama, scheduled for today, rained out with a makeup date yet to be determined. Alabama will play in a tournament hosted by Florida Gulf Coast University this weekend.
Men's basketball
Defense is what has brought the University of Alabama men's basketball team, more than anything, to a 7-3 Southeastern Conference record and a tied-for-third-place standing in the league.
Its struggles on offense have been just as apparent, however.
As Alabama prepares for tonight's game at Georgia, UA coach Anthony Grant said the Crimson Tide can not afford to lose its edge defensively while searching for more points.
"For us, (it's about) understanding that no matter what happens on the offensive end, it can't affect our focus and effort on the defensive end," Grant said. "As long as we continue to play to our identity from a defensive standpoint, and do things we need to do, we feel like we'll have a chance in every game we'll play."
The Alabama defense has held eight consecutive opponents under 60 points. During the same stretch, however, the Crimson Tide offense has scored 60 or more only twice. After Saturday night's 60-57 win over LSU, Grant noted that the team has especially struggled offensively in its last four games. But UA has found a way to win three of those.
"I think it says something about who we have in the locker room in terms of their ability to persevere," Grant said.
Two members of Alabama's football support staff, defensive analyst Russ Callaway and offensive analyst Kelvin Sigler, have been hired as on-field assistant coaches at Murray State and Northern Illinois, respectively.
Callaway was hired at Murray State by former Valdosta State coach Chris Hatcher, who was the first college head coach UA defensive coordinator Kirby Smart worked for. Hatcher also has former UA linebacker and Saban staff intern Freddie Roach on his staff.
Sigler, who played safety at Alabama in the mid-1990s, worked for UA for less than a year before getting a position with Northern Illinois.
The Alabama gymnastics team is ranked No. 5 for the fourth week in a row after its 198.1 to 196.85 loss to the Florida Gators last Sunday. The Gators retained the top spot in the rankings, followed by Oklahoma, Michigan and UCLA. Auburn, which Alabama faces this week, is ranked No. 15 for the second week in a row.
The Crimson Tide is ranked fifth on vault and uneven bars and is ranked seventh on balance beam and floor exercise. Individually, junior Kim Jacob is ranked No. 16 in the all-around and third on floor exercise. Junior Sarah DeMeo is ranked No. 8 on uneven bars.
Alabama will host Auburn at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Coleman Coliseum. The Crimson Tide has beaten the Tigers in 105 consecutive meets.
Elias Hakansson broke a 15-year-old school record in the men's weight throw as the UA indoor track team finished in second place in both men's and women's standings Saturday at the Mark Colligan Memorial Meet at the University of Nebraska. Hakansson's record came on a throw of 66 feet, 9¼ inches (20.35 meters) and eclipsed the mark set by Derrick Jones in 1998 by 31⁄2 inches. ... The Alabama women's golf team holds a lead after 36 holes in the Lady Puerto Rico Classic after Monday's 2-over-par round of 290. Alabama leads Arkansas by four strokes. ...
The Alabama women's tennis team, ranked No. 9 in the nation, finished play at the ITA Team Indoor Championships with a 4-3 win over 11th-ranked Texas on Sunday. UA improved to 6-1.