Alabama Clinches Share of SEC Title with Friday Shutout Over LSU
Alabama shut out LSU, 7-0, in Friday’s series opener at Tiger Park to give the Crimson Tide a share of its sixth SEC regular season title with a chance to win it outright this weekend.
Alabama (48-6, 16-6 SEC) took the lead over LSU (40-13, 14-8 SEC) in the top of the first on a solo home run from Bailey Hemphill and that was the only offense for either team until the top of the seventh, when the Crimson Tide broke the game open with six runs on five hits, bringing the score to 7-0 which proved final.
The win clinches a share of the Crimson Tide’s sixth SEC regular season title, with another win this weekend giving Alabama the championship outright. If LSU wins twice, the teams would finish with identical 16-8 conference records and would be recognized as co-champions, with tie-breaker scenarios only coming into effect to determine seeding for the SEC Tournament.
Hemphill’s home run was part of a 2-for-3 day with two RBIs. Sophomore Kaylee Tow also drove in a pair of runs on a seventh-inning double that sparked the big outburst. In the circle, freshman Montana Fouts (14-3) threw her 12th complete game and fifth shutout, fanning three over 7.0 innings with just four hits allowed.
Hemphill gave the Tide the first lead of the game in the top of the first, pulling a towering ball down the left-field line that bounced off the foul pole for a solo home run. LSU would load the bases in the bottom half of the inning with two out, but a 5-3 groundout got Alabama out of the jam and kept the Tigers out of the run column.
LSU got its first hit of the day to lead off the bottom of the third, with the speedy Aliyah Andrews beating out an infield single before advancing to second on a throwing error. Sophomore Maddie Morgan ranged into foul territory and caught a popup against he dugout fence for out number one, with a strikeout and another popup stranding Andrews in scoring position with the score still 1-0 Alabama.
Elyse Thornhill led off the LSU half of the fourth with a double and advanced to third on a groundout. Junior Claire Jenkins fielded a hard liner for out number two and tried to make the quick flip to third for a double play, but the runner made it back in time. A swinging strikeout ended the inning, stranding the potential tying run 60 feet away.
The Tigers couldn’t capitalize on another leadoff double in the fifth, with a groundout and fly ball putting two outs on the board before the runner tried to advance to third on an errant throw but a quick scoop and throw from Hemphill caught her easily at third to send the teams to the sixth with Alabama up 6-0.
The Tide stranded a pair on base in the top of the sixth and the Tigers left one on in the bottom half as it remained a one-run game heading to the final inning of regulation. Morgan drew a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh and freshman Skylar Wallace followed with a hard-hit single as freshman pinch-runner Kloyee Anderson advanced to third on an error. Turning back to the top of the order, junior Elissa Brown reached on an infield single to load the bases with nobody out. Sophomore Kaylee Tow ripped a double into the right-field gap, scoring two before Hemphill added two more on a single as the lead swelled to 5-0.
Later with two runners in scoring position and two out, a passed ball allowed junior pinch-runner Taylor Clark to score and an RBI single from sophomore KB Sides made it 7-0 as Alabama batted around the order. With Morgan standing in the box for the second time in the inning, Kara Goff entered to pitch for the Tigers and two Tide runners would advance into scoring position before a fly ball ended the big inning with the Tide leading 7-0.
LSU hit a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh but that was it, as Fouts and the Tide defense closed the door to hold the 7-0 shutout.
Game two of the weekend series starts at 5 p.m. CT Saturday, May 4 live on the SEC Network.
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