Alabama Softball Hangs on to Win Extra-Inning Battle at UAB, 5-4
Alabama softball and UAB were locked in a back-and-forth battle Tuesday night in Birmingham, needing eight innings to decide the contest as the Crimson Tide held on to win, 5-4, in its first extra-inning game of the 2017 season.
Alabama (14-2) took the first lead of the game before falling behind UAB (4-10) in the third and then retaking the lead in the fourth. The Blazers came back to tie it in the fifth and an eighth-inning bases loaded walk proved the difference in the one-run contest. The Tide left plenty of scoring opportunities on the base paths, stranding 16 runners on base, just one shy of the Alabama single-game record. Freshman Bailey Hemphill led the offensive effort with a 2-3 day, including her team-leading fourth home run of the season. Peyton Grantham and Chandler Dare also tallied multi-hit efforts at the plate, with Grantham adding an RBI to the scoring effort along with Demi Turner and Sydney Booker.
Madi Moore started in the circle for Alabama but ultimately took a no-decision, throwing 2.0 innings with three runs allowed, two earned. Sydney Littlejohn threw 2.0 innings of relief behind her, giving up her first earned run of the year, and Alexis Osorio (7-1) ultimately got the win, throwing 4.0 shutout innings with nine strikeouts. UAB starter Claire Blount (1-3) started the game and later re-entered to take the loss in extra innings.
With runners at the corners and two out in the top of the first, the UAB second baseman dropped the ball on what would have been an inning-ending force out, allowing the runner at third to score on the error and give Alabama an early 1-0 lead. With a runner at second and one out in the bottom-half of the inning, a groundout moved the UAB runner to third and the runner managed to come home on the play, though the Tide thought time was already called on the play. After the umpires discussed the play, the call stood and made it a tie game, 1-1.
Alabama looked to break the tie in the top of the third, loading the bases with two out, but a groundout got UAB out of the jam to keep the score at 1-1. The Blazers responded immediately in the bottom half of the inning as a pair of hit-by-pitches and a single quickly loaded the bases for UAB with nobody out. Alabama then turned to its bullpen as Littlejohn entered the game, who forced a popup for the first out before Madison Millsaps knocked a two-run single up the middle to give UAB a 3-1 lead. A groundout and fly ball would end the inning with the Tide trailing by two.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Chandler Dare smacked a standup triple to center field to turn it back to the top of the order. Pinch-hitter Reagan Dykes was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners and Elissa Brown re-entered to run at first, immediately stealing second on the next pitch. A sacrifice fly by Turner cut the deficit to 3-2 and then Hemphill gave the Tide the lead, smashing a line-drive home run to left-center to score two and make it 4-3. Alabama would get two more on base in the inning but a force-out eventually ended the top of the fourth with the Tide now up by one.
With a runner at second and one out in the top of the fifth, Dare popped up on the play but Patrick Murphy called for the play to be nullified as the umpire deemed that UAB incorrectly entered its new pitcher into the lineup. Now with a second chance at the plate, Dare reached on an infield single to put runners at the corners and then stole second to put two in scoring position. In the next at-bat, the runner at third was caught in a rundown for out number two but Dare successfully advanced to third, but a strikeout would keep her 60 feet away as Alabama could not add to its 4-3 lead.
After a leadoff triple in the bottom of the fifth, Alabama turned to Osorio in the circle but a fly ball in the next at-bat allowed the runner to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly, tying the game at 4-4. With two on and two out for Alabama in the top of the seventh, UAB starter Blount re-entered the game to pitch before pinch-hitter Claire Jenkins loaded the bases on an infield single. A groundout would get the Blazers out of the jam and the home team would fail to score in the bottom half, sending the game to extra innings.
UAB struggled to find the strike zone in the top of the eighth, loading the bases with two out and ultimately walking Booker to drive in the go-ahead run. UAB would put two on base in the bottom-half of the inning with one out but Osorio would shut the door with a pair of strikeouts as Alabama held on to win, 5-4.
Next up, Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa to host the Easton Crimson Classic on March 3-5, welcoming Jacksonville, Drake and Stanford to Rhoads Stadium. The Tide will play five games over three days, starting on Friday, March 3 against Jacksonville at 4 p.m. CT.