The Alabama Crimson Tide softball team kicked off the Clearwater Invitational with a tight 5-4 win against the Duke Blue Devils.

Alabama's bats wasted no time in the bottom of the first. Kenleigh Cahalan led off with a double to right and immediately scored on an Ashley Prange RBI single to center. An Ally Shipman double to left scored Prange as the top of the order went 3-3 to start the game. Later in the inning, Jenna Johnson singled up the middle, bringing home Shipman to put the Tide up 3-0 early.

Prange kept the scoring going for the Tide in the bottom of the second as she homered to center field, scoring Faith Hensley who reached on a fielding error earlier in the inning to put Alabama up 5-0.

Montana Fouts was on the mound for the Tide. She opened the game sharp, retiring the first eight hitters in order until Duke infielder Jada Baker, with two outs on an 0-2 count, poked a single to center. In the top of the fourth, Gisele Tapia singled on a hot shot to third, followed by a Kelly Torres home run to left center, putting the Blue Devils on the board and cutting into Alabama's lead.

Duke relief pitcher Cassidy Curd came in to replace Jala Wright on the mound following Prange's home run and immediately kept Alabama's bats quiet, allowing the Blue Devils to make an attempt at a comeback. In the top of the sixth, Kelly Torres homered to right center off of Fouts once again, making it 5-3 Alabama.

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The Tide failed to add on any insurance runs to give Fouts some breathing room in the bottom of the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Claire Davidson wasted no time getting a rally started for Duke as she lined a double to center, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a sac fly to center by Kamryn Jackson.

Tensions began to rise as the lead for Alabama was down to one with Fouts needing just one more out after striking out Kairi Rodriguez, Fouts' eighth strikeout of the game.


Deja Davis made it interesting as she doubled to left and immediately moved to third on a wild pitch, putting the tying run 60 ft away. But the Blue Devils fell just short of a comeback as pinch hitter Kristiana Watson grounded out to short as the Tide just barely survived.

Alabama is now 3-1 on the season as they prepare to face UCLA in its second game of the tournament tomorrow at 3:00 CT which will broadcast Me-TV 97.5.

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