Alabama Softball Recap: Crimson Tide Advances to Super Regionals
No. 14/15 Alabama fought valiantly throughout the weekend to secure a trip to the NCAA Super Regional round for the 13th consecutive season.
The Crimson Tide knocked off Albany 5-1 Friday afternoon before shutting out Minnesota 1-0 on Saturday and Sunday in a pair of pitchers duels.
Pitching Carries Bama to Super Regional
The story of Alabama’s 2017 season has been the excellence of their pitching staff.
The duo of Alexis Osorio and Sydney Littlejohn shined bright in gritty wins against Minnesota over the weekend.
Osorio got the start Saturday and came through with another sterling performance. In 180 pitches, the junior right hander shutdown Minnesota allowing two hits, walking five and fanning 11 batters over the course of nine innings.
Junior Sydney Littlejohn came up huge for Alabama in her Sunday start against the Gophers. In her final start at home, the senior right hander gave up five hits, walked one and struck out four in 5.1 scoreless innings. Osorio recorded the final five outs of the game including the last two outs of the game on strikeouts.
Littlejohn and Osorio combined for three wins and a save over the course of three games in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. Sophomore Madi Moore got the start against Albany and allowed one run on two hits while fanning three batters, walking none but hitting three Great Dane hitters.
During Sunday’s postgame press conference, Littlejohn discussed how the strengths of the three Alabama pitchers help form a formidable staff.
“I think Lex (Osorio) and I are great counterparts. We work very well together as well as Madi (Moore). We really complete each other, the three of us together. Whenever you do have the three of us together and we’re on, we’re like a three-headed monster, I feel like.” Littlejohn said. “Our goal is always to go at people. We just want to attack the zone, and I felt like Lex (Osorio) did an amazing job of that this weekend, and Madi (Moore) and I as well, and we were just able to follow up that performance.”
Big Risk Big Reward
A big moment in Sunday’s win came in Alabama’s first at-bat. Senior Marisa Runyon lined a double into the gap in left center field. With the throw coming to the shortstop, head coach Patrick Murphy gave Chandler Dare the green light home and was rewarded with the game’s first and only run as Dare scored just ahead of the relay throw to the plate.
After Sunday’s regional-clinching win, Patrick Murphy described his reasoning for the decision to send Chandler Dare to the plate.
“I didn’t think we’d get many chances and that was a huge chance with a double in the gap and one of the fastest girls on the team running, no doubt. If they make a play, they make a play.” Murphy stated.
Senior Marisa Runyon detailed her mental approach that lead to the run-scoring double.
“I wanted to be up there. I wanted the bat in my hands. I trusted my approach and was ready to get that first RBI.” Runyon said.
The senior infielder also touched on whether she was looking to hit the ball to the opposite field.
“Actually, the game plan was in. They stayed in yesterday, and so that was actually my plan, but I believe there was actually two strikes and had to protect.” Runyon stated.
Final Home Game for Three Seniors
Sunday’s victory over Minnesota closed the book for three seniors who played their final career games at Rhoads Stadium.
Chandler Dare, Marissa Runyon and Sydney Littlejohn each contributed to clinching another Super Regional berth for the Tide. Littlejohn earned the win over the Gophers while Runyon drove in Dare with the game’s only run.
Runyon described the emotions of the senior class playing their final game in a crimson and white uniform in Tuscaloosa after Sunday’s win.
“All three of us have been blessed to be a part of this program for four years. I know for a fact that we’re leaving better people than what we came in as, and we’re going to soak in this win and then get prepared for this weekend.” Runyon said.
Littlejohn also reflected on being a part of the Crimson Tide experience.
“This program and these fans and this atmosphere has been undoubtedly the best in the country, and I am so blessed and so thankful to have been a part of such a great program.” Littlejohn said.
College Softball around Alabama
No. 8 Auburn swept through their three regional contests to advance to the Auburn Super Regional. The Tigers run-ruled ETSU 11-0 in five innings on Friday while slipping past Cal 4-3 in nine innings on Saturday and crushing Cal 8-2 on Sunday. Freshman Alyssa Rivera highlighted the weekend with a walk-off RBI single Saturday while Haley Fagan was 4-5 on Saturday and drove in two runs in Sunday’s victory.
Jacksonville State ended their season after dropping two of their three games played in the Tallahassee Regional. The Gamecocks dropped their opening round contest to Georgia 4-2, defeated Princeton 10-2 in six innings Saturday afternoon and lost 8-2 in an elimination game Saturday night to Georgia. Infielder Anna Chisholm went 3-3 with 4 RBIs in Saturday’s win over Princeton.