Alabama Fights Through Rain for Saturday Sweep in Tuscaloosa
Alabama fought through bad weather to earn a pair of victories Saturday at Rhoads Stadium, defeating Missouri State, 7-5, before a rain-shortened win over No. 24 Minnesota, 7-2, in five innings.
Alabama (14-0) took an early lead over Missouri State (8-6) before the Bears started to claw at the deficit. The potential tying run came to the plate in the top of the seventh but the Tide closed it out for the two-run victory. In the nightcap, Minnesota (5-5) took the first lead of the game on a two-run home run but the Tide rallied with a seven-run fifth inning before rain forced the game to end early in Alabama’s favor, 7-2.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 7, MISSOURI STATE 5
Alabama endured a two-hour rain delay and a late offensive push from Missouri State to edge out the 7-5 win in the Tide’s opening game Saturday. The offensive lineup showed off its speed, with junior Elissa Brown going 3-for-3 with a school-record four stolen bases, while sophomore KB Sides and freshman Skylar Wallace each posted multi-hit performances. Wallace’s first career home run was an inside-the-park round trip, coming minutes after resuming after the rain delay. In the circle, junior Krystal Goodman (3-0) threw 5.2 innings in the start for the win, while junior Sarah Cornell retired the final three batters in the seventh for her first save.
Sophomores Kaylee Tow and Sides led off the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles and senior Caroline Hardy brought both home three batters later with a double to make it 2-0. Missouri State cut the lead in half with an RBI double in the top of the second but an RBI groundout in the bottom half quickly brought it back to a two-run lead.
With the score still 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, Brown led off the inning with a bunt single and moved all the way to third after a pair of stolen bases. A walk to Tow put runners at the corners and Sides drove Brown home on an RBI single through the left side. Two batters later, senior Reagan Dykes dropped a single into shallow center to make it 5-1 before some heads-up baserunning by Sides on a groundout allowed the speedy sophomore to score all the way from second and make it 6-1.
Missouri State blasted a three-run home run in the top of the fifth to cut the Tide’s lead to 6-4 before rain began in the bottom half of the inning, forcing the teams to clear the field as the grounds crew tarped the field. After a two-hour delay, play resumed and Wallace showed off her speed with an inside-the-park home run that banged off the left-field wall to make it 7-4.
With a runner on and one out in the top of the sixth, Brown ranged back in center field and went over the wall to rob a would-be home run for the second out of the inning. The Bears eventually loaded the bases and Alabama turned to its bullpen, with sophomore Madison Preston entering in relief. An RBI single moved everyone up 60 feet before a groundout ended the inning with the score 7-5.
Down to its final three outs in the top of the seventh, Missouri State drew a leadoff walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate. Cornell stepped into the circle looking to close out the game, inducing a force out, strikeout and groundout to earn the save and cap the 7-5 win.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 7, MINNESOTA 2 (5 INN.) *WEATHER SHORTENED*
Alabama rallied from an early two-run deficit with a big fifth inning, scoring seven before the rain forced an early end to the game with the Tide claiming the 7-2 victory through five innings. The seven-run fifth was started by a two-run single from Sides and punctuated by home runs from junior Bailey Hemphill and Dykes. In the circle, freshman Montana Fouts (6-0) earned her sixth win in as many starts, striking out seven.
After three scoreless innings, Minnesota got on the board first with a two-run home run in the top of the fourth. Alabama threatened in the bottom of the fifth, loading the bases with one out. Sides dropped a single into shallow left, scoring two to tie the game up before Hemphill brought everyone in with a three-run home run to give Alabama the 5-2 lead. Dykes sent another one over the fence later in the inning, stretching the lead to 7-2.
Before the top of the sixth began, the tarp made its second appearance of the day for a one-hour delay before it was decided to call the game as completed in order to allow for three games on Sunday.
Alabama wraps up its weekend on Sunday, March 24 facing ULM (1-12) at 2 p.m. CT.
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