Patrick Murphy Tallies 400th SEC Win, Alabama Sweeps Missouri in Friday Doubleheader
Alabama softball clinched its weekend series with a pair of wins over Missouri Friday night at Rhoads Stadium, defeating the Tigers, 3-1, in the opener before a wild comeback ended in a 14-8 victory in the nightcap.
Alabama’s (24-0, 2-0 SEC) game one win over Missouri (11-9, 0-2 SEC) marked head coach Patrick Murphy’s 400th SEC win, making him the first softball coach in league history to tally 400 SEC wins. No other coach, active or former, has surpassed 300. In game two, the Tide faced an early 7-0 deficit before chipping away and eventually scoring 11 unanswered runs to come back and win, 14-8.
Between the two games, senior Reagan Dykes caught two runners stealing to put herself three away from Kendall Dawson’s career record. Sophomores KB Sides and Kaylee Tow had four hits on the day, with Tow driving in three runs in the game two comeback victory. Both of junior Claire Jenkins’ two hits were home runs, a solo home run in game one and a two-run shot in the second game.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 3, MISSOURI 1
Three runs proved enough for Alabama in a low-scoring contest against Missouri, as the Tide won its SEC opener, 3-1. Alabama scored in the first and second innings courtesy of an RBI single from freshman Skylar Wallace and a solo home run from Jenkins to take the early 2-0 lead. A solo home run in the top of the fourth cut the lead in half but an insurance run on a sac fly RBI in the sixth scratched the final tally across. Sides went 2-for-3 with a run scored while Jenkins drove in two of the team’s three RBIs. Freshman Montana Fouts (9-0) went the distance in the circle, allowing one run on two hits with seven strikeouts.
After a 1-2-3 top of the first, Alabama started the bottom half with back-to-back hits to put two in scoring position with nobody out. Later with runners at the corners and two out, Wallace beat out an infield single to drive in a run and give the Tide an early 1-0 lead. Jenkins doubled the lead in the next inning with a leadoff solo home run to make it 2-0.
After three hitless innings, Missouri made its first hit of the game count, blasting a leadoff solo home run in the fourth to cut the Tide’s lead to 2-1. The score remained the same in the bottom of the sixth when, with runners at the corners and one out, Jenkins lifted a fly ball to deep center which allowed Wallace to tag up at third and score on the sacrifice fly. Missouri would get a runner on with one out in the top of the seventh but a groundout and strikeout ended the game as Alabama held on to win, 3-1.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 14, MISSOURI 8
Alabama faced an early 7-0 deficit in the second inning, but chipped away to draw within five, down 8-3 through three innings. After holding Missouri scoreless in the top of the fourth, the Tide offense exploded to the tune of five runs in the fourth and three in both the fifth and sixth innings, rallying to win, 14-8. Tow went 3-for-4 with three RBIs from the leadoff spot, including a game-tying two run home run in the fourth. Junior Sarah Cornell (9-0) earned the win in relief, throwing 6.1 strong innings and shutting out the Tigers after the third inning.
Missouri threatened early, loading the bases in the top of the first on a pair of singles and a two-out walk. After a lengthy at-bat, Callie Martin pulled a double down the left-field line to score two. A pair of singles following that added three more runs, forcing Alabama to turn to its bullpen in an early 5-0 hole. Junior Sarah Cornell entered to pitch with a runner at second and two out. A deflected ball on a hard-hit single added another run before Dykes caught the runner stealing at second to end the inning with the Tide facing an early 6-0 deficit.
The Tigers added another with an RBI single in the top of the second and the Tide brought its first run home in the bottom half of the inning, as the Missouri outfielder dropped a ball at the warning track to bring in an unearned run and extend the inning with two out. Senior Merris Schroder advanced all the way to third on the error and junior Elissa Brown brought her home with an RBI single to make it 7-2 before a lineout ended the inning.
A third-inning sac fly put Missouri ahead 8-2 but junior Bailey Hemphill quickly got that run back in the home half of the inning with a towering solo home run. After holding Missouri scoreless in the top of the fourth, sophomore Maddie Morgan drew a walk to lead off the bottom half and Jenkins smashed a two-run home run to straightaway center to make it a three-run ballgame. Schroder then drew a walk, forcing a pitching change, and then moved to second on a wild pitch and came home on an RBI triple from Brown, with the score now 8-6.
Tow tied the game at 8-8 with a massive swing of the bat, sending a two-run home run to the brickyard past center field. After a scoreless top of the fifth, Alabama loaded the bases in the bottom half to set up Tow for an infield RBI single while an errant throw allowed another to cross and make it 10-8. A second RBI single from Sides made it 11-8 before a popup ended the inning.
An RBI single from Morgan in the bottom of the sixth and a two-run triple from Schroder tacked on three more, pushing the score to 14-8 which ultimately proved final.
The series finale is set for a 1 p.m. CT start on Sunday, March 10 live on SEC Network.
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