Bailey Hemphill Walk-Off Lifts Alabama to 3-2 Rubber Match Victory Over Ole Miss Sunday
Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore Bailey Hemphill provided the late-game heroics for Alabama softball in Sunday’s rubber match against Ole Miss, hitting a walk-off two-run single to earn the 3-2 win and claim the weekend series.
Alabama (22-8, 3-3 SEC) fell behind early as Ole Miss (16-12, 2-7 SEC) scored two runs over the first two innings. A solo home run from freshman Kaylee Tow in the third cut the deficit in half and the score remained 2-1 until the seventh inning. The Crimson Tide loaded the bases and Hemphill provided the key hit, part of a 2-for-3 day at the plate from the Lafayette, La., native. Junior Courtney Gettins (10-2) gutted out a complete-game victory in the circle, allowing just two runs on six hits along with four strikeouts.
With one out in the top of the first, back-to-back singles put runners at the corners for Ole Miss and a slow grounder to second went for out number two, but the runner at third came home on the play to put the Rebels up 1-0. A 5-3 putout ended the half-inning and limited the damage to one run, stranding a runner at second. Alabama started the bottom half with the same pattern, hitting consecutive singles with one out but the Tide could not score and cut into the 1-0 deficit.
Ole Miss scored another in the top of the second on a high chopper up the middle that went for an infield single and scored the runner from third to make it 2-0. With two outs in the bottom of the third, Tow cut the deficit in half with a solo home run to center field. Juniors Merris Schroder and Caroline Hardy hit back-to-back singles to lead off the bottom of the fourth, forcing a pitching change for Ole Miss as they turned to game two winner Kaitlin Lee. A great diving play in shallow center followed by a throw to second to catch the runner off the bag for the double play quickly put two outs on the board and the Ole Miss shortstop laid out for a diving catch up the middle to end the inning.
Senior Sydney Booker flied out to right to start the bottom of the fifth, but an illegal pitch nullified the play and she stepped back in the box to draw a walk. Two batters later, sophomore Elissa Brown slapped an infield single to put two on with one out. A two-out walk to Hemphill loaded the bases but a running catch in left field ended the inning as the Tide could not cut into the 2-1 deficit.
Ole Miss was unable to add to its lead in the sixth or seventh innings. Booker led off the bottom of the seventh with a double in the gap and sophomore Claire Jenkins was hit by a pitch to put two on with nobody out as it turned to the top of the Alabama batting order. Brown laid down a bunt and Ole Miss attempted to throw to third for the force out but it was not in time as Brown reached on the fielder’s choice to load the bases. A force out at home went for out number one but Hemphill ended the game in the next at-bat, dropping a single into shallow center as two runs came home to give the Tide the 3-2 comeback victory and the series win over Ole Miss.
Alabama continues conference play next weekend, traveling to Lexington, Ky., to face 19th-ranked Kentucky (19-9, 2-6 SEC) in a three-game series beginning Friday, March 30 at 5 p.m. CT.
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