Alabama Struggles in Starkville
What started as an exciting week for Alabama Softball (36-5) ended with disappointment on Sunday. Alabama started the week on Thursday with a tight 4-3 win over UAB (23-17), and then a SEC three game series against Mississippi State (30-14) in Starkville. The Tide took the first game Friday night, but lost two in a row for Alabama’s second and third SEC losses and its first SEC series loss this season.
Thursday night Alabama, with its new #2 national ranking, hosted the neighboring UAB Blazers in a battle that proved the Blazers to be resilient. Alabama captured a three run lead in the fifth inning to make the game 4-1, but UAB scored two in the last two to get in game-tying position. However Traina earned a strikeout for the final out and the game saver, winning 4-3.
Sydney Littlejohn (8-0) pitched 6.2 innings in the win, but Jaclyn Traina entered the game to pitch the final out of the game. The Alabama batters gained 12 hits; seven of them deriving from the top three at bat. Kaila Hunt managed 2 RBIs, one being a triple. Thise game proved to be a disappointment on offense, but a testament to UAB’s defense for allowing only four runs. Unfortunately this proved to be an omen for the weekend’s matchup versus Mississippi State.
Alabama (14-1 SEC) opened the series in Starkville with a 5-1 win Friday night. The win became Alabama’s 11th straight and its 15th in SEC play. The story of the night was Alabama’s effective long-ball and electric hitters. Four out five runs coming from homers obtained by Peyton Grantham, Danae Hayes, and Jadyn Spencer.
Jaclyn Traina (16-2) allowed one run off five hits in 6.0 innings with Sydney Littlejohn pitching a perfect seventh as a relief. The run Traina did surrender was not earned. Mississippi State struggled offensively, and their late rally ended in failure as six runners were left on base in the last two innings.
Sadly Alabama suffered its second loss in conference play Saturday losing 4-2 to the Bulldogs. The Crimson Tide was limited to an abysmal and season low two hits and twelve strikeouts. Alabama was winning in the fifth 2-1 but a single gave the bulldogs two to gain the lead 3-2. The Tide just could not capitalize on chances ending the night in defeat.
Leslie Jury (15-4) takes the loss throwing for 5.2 innings, five walks, and four runs off seven hits. Sydney Littlejohn came in for the relief pitching. Kaila Hunt managed her tenth home run of the year and her 56th career long ball. The homer puts her four away from tying the school record.
Sunday’s game became an intense pitcher’s duel that lasted ten innings, the first extra innings game of the year for the Crimson Tide. Unfortunately the Tide could not hold on to a three run lead in the 10th to win the game. Case hit a RBI single to give the Tide a one run lead with McCleney hitting a two run triple the right field to add insurance. The game was 3-0 leading into the bottom of the 10th.
A fielding error loaded the bases for the Bulldogs and a single RBI closed the lead to one. A grounder to the right side brought the game tying runner home for Miss State, as a force out throw to home was too late. A sacrifice fly to right field ended the game 4-3.
Jaclyn Traina threw 9.0 innings, but Sydney Littlejohn (8-1) took the loss. The game remained scoreless in seven innings and was an intense defensive game, until the 10th inning. The loss became Alabama’s first back to back SEC losses of the season. However Alabama remains in the number one spot with a 15-3 conference record.
Alabama plays Auburn “University” in Montgomery on Wednesday at 6:30 pm at Lagoon Park.
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