Alabama Softball Posts Big Numbers in Doubleheader Split at Kentucky Saturday
Alabama softball posted a dominating 9-0 shutout in game one of a Saturday doubleheader over Kentucky before falling in a back-and-forth game two, 11-6.
The Alabama (23-9, 4-4 SEC) offense was on full display in game one against Kentucky (20-10, 3-7 SEC), scoring nine runs on nine hits, including three home runs. Two of those long balls came off the bat of senior Sydney Booker, part of a 3-for-4 day at the plate for the Crimson Tide shortstop. She is the first Alabama player to hit multiple home runs in a game since Leona Lafaele at Texas A&M on April 15, 2016. The Tide also had multi-hit efforts from freshman Kaylee Tow, sophomore Gabby Callaway and junior Merris Schroder, with the trio accounting for four of the Tide’s nine runs scored. Senior Alexis Osorio (7-3) had more than enough run support in her return to the circle, shutting out the Wildcats in the complete-game effort with just one hit allowed and 10 strikeouts.
In game two, Kentucky took an early 4-1 lead before a five-run third gave Alabama the 6-4 advantage. The Wildcats scored three in the bottom half to pull ahead 7-6, eventually adding four more down the stretch to bring the score to 11-6, which proved final. A trio of errors proved costly for the Tide, as four of the 11 runs allowed were unearned. Tow posted a second-straight multi-hit game, going 3-for-3 with a run scored. Senior Courtney Gettins started the game but exited after 2.0 innings, with freshman Madison Preston (6-4) throwing 2.1 innings behind her in relief before Gettins re-entered the game with one out in the bottom of the fifth.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 9, KENTUCKY 0
Callaway tallied the first hit for either team in the top of the second, leading off the inning with an opposite-field double that bounced off the wall in left field. Schroder followed with a four-pitch walk to put two on with nobody out. Two batters later, Booker pulled a single through the left side and a good throw to the plate was in time but Callaway safe on an obstruction call to give Alabama the 1-0 lead. With two in scoring position, a wild pitch moved both runners up 60 feet to make it 2-0 before a popup ended the half-inning.
In the top of the third, Tow drew a one-out walk and Callaway pulled a two-out single down the right-field line to put runners at the corners. Schroder send a hard-hit single back up the middle to score Tow and make it 3-0 before junior Reagan Dykes drew a walk to load the bases. A popup ended the inning however as the Tide stranded three on base.
Sophomore pitcher Larissa Spellman entered in relief for Kentucky to start the fourth inning and Booker welcomed her to the game with a leadoff home run that bounced off the foul pole in left field to stretch Alabama’s lead to 4-0. Senior Demi Turner was hit by a pitch to lead off the top of the sixth and an overthrow on a sacrifice bunt attempt from Booker in the next at-bat allowed Turner to score and make it 5-0 while Booker hustled all the way to third. A one-out walk to pinch-hitter Caroline Hardy put runners at the corners and, with freshman Elissa Brown re-entered to run at first base, she immediately stole second to put two in scoring position. Tow pulled an RBI single through the right side to make it 6-0 and, on a double-steal attempt, Brown was caught in a rundown for out number two before a popup ended the half-inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Kentucky put two on with two out and, following a wild pitch, the Tide intentionally walked junior Abbey Cheek to load the bases. A swinging strikeout got Alabama out of the jam to preserve the 6-0 lead. Schroder padded the lead with a solo home run in the top of the seventh and Booker stretched it even further with a two-run shot, her second home run of the day as the score moved to 9-0. That ultimately proved final as the Wildcats went down in order in the bottom-half of the inning.
GAME TWO: KENTUCKY 11, ALABAMA 6
Brown led off the game with an infield single, stole second and then advanced to third on a wild pitch before a walk to Tow put runners at the corners with nobody out. Two batters later, Callaway blasted a long double off the wall in center field, scoring Brown to make it 1-0 as Tow moved to third to put two in scoring position with one out. Schroder battled through an eight-pitch at-bat to draw a walk and load the bases but a great 6-3 double play got Kentucky out of the jam and held the Tide to just one run in the half-inning.
After a great diving catch by Schroder to start the bottom of the first, Kentucky knocked a one-out single into left field. The runner then stole second and was awarded third base on an interference call, eventually coming home on an RBI single to tie it at 1-1. Another single put runners at the corners and, following a strikeout, a walk would load the bases with two out. Gettins threw three-straight strikes to catch the final batter looking and get out of the bases-loaded jam with the score tied at 1-1.
Kentucky led off the bottom of the second with back-to-back singles and a fielding error in the next at-bat loaded the bases. A strikeout and popup put two outs on the board before a hard-hit ball to center field fell just out of the reach of a diving Brown at the warning track, plating three runs on the double to push Kentucky ahead 4-1.
Alabama led off the top of the third with three-straight hits to quickly load the bases. Schroder made it four-straight with an RBI single through the right side as everyone moved up 60 feet with the score now 4-2. A force out at home on a ground ball went for out number one but an error on the throw to first allowed the runners to move up as Alabama plated a run to draw within one, 4-3. Turner brought both runners home with a single up the middle, advancing to second on the throw as the Tide now led 5-4 with one out. An infield single by Dykes put runners at first and third and a long fly ball from sophomore Claire Jenkins was just short of home run distance but allowed Turner to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly to make it 6-4.
After a double and walk to lead off the bottom of the third, Alabama turned to its bullpen as Preston stepped into the circle. A groundout went for out number one but a single into shallow left scored a run to draw the Wildcats within one, trailing 6-5 as the batter advanced to second on the throw to put two in scoring position with one out. A sharp single through the left side scored another run to tie it at 6-6 and a wild pitch in the next at-bat plated the go-ahead run for Kentucky, now leading 7-6.
Alabama would load the bases with two out in the top of the fifth but a strikeout ended the inning with the one-run lead still in Kentucky’s favor. The Wildcats followed suit in the bottom half, loading the bases with nobody out. After a force out at home on a fielder’s choice, a bases-loaded walk extended Kentucky’s lead to 8-6. That ended Preston’s outing as Gettins re-entered the game. A hard grounder to Jenkins allowed her to tag third and fire to first for the 5-3 double play to end the inning.
An error with two out in the bottom of the sixth allowed Kentucky to add an unearned run and make it 9-6 and junior Katie Reed took advantage of the extended inning, blasting a two-run home run to make it 11-6, which ultimately proved final.
The series rubber match is set for a Noon CT start on Sunday, April 1.
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