Alabama softball opened play at the Tuscaloosa Regional Friday night with an 8-0 run-rule win over Middle Tennessee in six innings. With the win, the Crimson Tide advances to face Wisconsin Saturday at 1:30 p.m. CT.

Alabama (34-18) took the first lead over Middle Tennessee (39-21) in the first inning with two quick runs and added some cushion with a five-run third inning. The Blue Raiders stranded a combined four runners in the fourth and fifth innings before a solo home run from senior Peyton Grantham in the bottom of the sixth capped the run-rule victory for the Tide.

Senior Demi Turner and sophomore Bailey Hemphill tallied a pair of hits, combining for five of the team’s seven RBIs. The top four in the Alabama batting order, which also included sophomore Elissa Brown and freshman Kaylee Tow, was a combined 6-for-10 with six runs scored. Junior Courtney Gettins (14-4) was equally as sharp in the circle, tossing 6.0 shutout innings while scattering five hits.

After Middle Tennessee stranded a pair on base in the top of the first, Brown was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom half and immediately stole second on the first pitch of the next at-bat. Turner then ripped a shot up the middle that deflected off the pitcher into foul territory, allowing Brown to score on what ended up as an RBI double. Later with one out in the inning, Hemphill dropped an RBI single into left field to double the Tide’s lead to 2-0.

Brown poked a single through the left side to lead off the bottom of the third, stole second and came home on an RBI single from Turner to make it 3-0. Tow made it three-straight singles to put two on base and Hemphill blasted a double to the wall in left-center, scoring two to increase the Tide’s lead to 5-0. Junior Reagan Dykes laid down a sacrifice bunt attempt to move Hemphill to third but was safe on an errant throw, scooting up to second as Hemphill also scored to make it 6-0. A sacrifice bunt from senior Sydney Booker moved Dykes up to third and a hard-hit single from pinch-hitter Caroline Hardy drove her in to increase the lead to 7-0.

The Blue Raiders threatened in the top of the fourth, loading the bases with one out but a pair of groundouts got Alabama out of the jam and preserved the shutout. Middle Tennessee got a leadoff single in the top of the fifth but again could not scratch into the run column. With a seven-run lead in the bottom of the sixth, Grantham provided the final exclamation mark with a solo home run to cap the 8-0 run-rule victory.

With the win, Alabama advances to face Wisconsin in the first game Saturday, March 19 at 1:30 p.m. CT. The winner of that game will advance to Sunday’s championship game while the loser will play in an elimination game Saturday at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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