Alabama Secures Spot in Regional Championship Game with 7-4 Win Over Arizona State Saturday
For the second-straight game, Alabama rallied from an early deficit to earn the win, defeating Arizona State, 7-4, to secure a spot in Sunday’s regional championship game and extend its regional-round win streak to 39-straight games.
Alabama (54-7) fell behind after a two-run home run from Arizona State (34-19) in the top of the first, but quickly scored two in the bottom half to tie it at 2-2. The Sun Devils retook the lead in the top of the second but the Crimson Tide would go on to score five unanswered. After allowing four runs over the first two innings, freshman Montana Fouts (16-4) settled in to retire 12 of the last 13 batters and earn the complete-game victory, fanning a season-high 12 batters.
“I think she just needed to settle down a little bit after the first two innings,” UA head coach Patrick Murphy said. “She got in a good rhythm and a good flow and got the player who hit a home run earlier swinging for the final out. She’s very resilient and we have a very resilient team in general. We came back a couple times and showed some guts and grit.”
A double steal attempt in the top of the second inning ended in a 2-6-2 putout at the plate, moving senior Reagan Dykes past Kendall Dawson (2009-12) for the career record at UA with 45 runners caught stealing. She also contributed to the offensive effort, blasting a solo home run in the second inning. Six of the nine in the starting lineup earned a hit and seven scored a run. Three of the seven RBIs came off the bat of senior Caroline Hardy, who earned a clutch three-run pinch hit double in the bottom of the third. Junior Bailey Hemphill reached base three times, extending her streak to 33-straight games which is tied with Kayla Braud (2011) for the fourth-longest in school history and one shy of Haylie McCleney’s (2016) third-place mark.
Arizona State led off the first inning with a double and took the first lead of the game two batters later with a two-run home run. A bobble at third base to start the bottom half of the inning allowed junior Elissa Brown to reach base safely and sophomore KB Sides followed that with a single into shallow left in front of a diving outfielder, advancing to second on the throw as Brown slid into third. Sophomore Kaylee Tow gave it a ride in the next at-bat, with the ASU center fielder catching the fly ball with her back against the wall as the two runners tagged up and moved up 60 feet on the sac fly to cut the deficit to 2-1. With the infield shifted onto the left side for Hemphill, she poked one through the right side to score Sides and tie the game at 2-2.
The Sun Devils hit another leadoff double in the top of the second and eventually pushed runners to the corners after a fielding error with one out. A wild throw on a stolen base attempt allowed the runner to come home from third as Arizona State moved back in front, 3-2, and an RBI single to left field made it a 4-2 game. A fly ball to center went for out number two and the runner at third was tagged out at home on a double steal attempt to end the inning. Dykes slugged a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the second, drawing the Tide within one.
With two on and one out in the bottom of the third, freshman Skylar Wallace sent a single up the middle to score Tow from second and tie the game at 4-4. Sophomore Maddie Morgan was hit by a pitch to load the bases with two out as Hardy stepped in to pinch-hit. Facing an 0-2 count, Hardy lifted a ball into deep center, bouncing it off the wall as she cleared the bases and slid into second for the three-run double, putting Alabama in front 7-4.
After another leadoff double for the Sun Devils in the top of the fourth, Fouts and the Tide defense settled in to retire 11-straight before Arizona State got a two-out single in the top of the seventh to break the streak. Fouts’ 12th strikeout of the day ended the game as Alabama held on to win, 7-4.
With the win, Alabama moves into Sunday’s championship game which his set for a 1 p.m. CT first pitch. Lipscomb faces off against Alabama State, with the winner moving on to play Arizona State tonight for a chance to play the Crimson Tide on Sunday.
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