RECAP: NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Through Saturday
Through five games in regional play, the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide have stayed perfect in the win column and remain the only team to not be shut out through Friday and Saturday. As the Bama Softball faithful prepare for the showdown on Sunday, let's take a look at how the final teams made their way through the weekend.
Clemson kicked the regional off with a dominant 8-0 win over Troy in just five innings, marking the program's first NCAA Tournament victory in their short history. Freshman RHP Valerie Cagle, the ACC's Player of the Year, threw 10 strikeouts in her 4.0 innings of work and tacked on a two-run homer to walk off the Clemson run-rule victory.
In game two, Alabama's sophomore RHP Lexi Kilfoyl found her way back to her scorching mid-season form and - with relief from RHP Krystal Goodman - no-hit the Alabama State Hornets by a final score of 9-0 in just six innings. Jenna Johnson's two-run homer and Bailey Hemphill's three RBI sealed the Hornets' fate after they failed to generate any traction on offense.
Likely the most anticipated matchup in the tournament, Clemson vs. Alabama, took place on Saturday morning and produced yet another lopsided victory for the Crimson Tide as they dominated the Tigers, 6-0. Junior RHP Montana Fouts again lived up to her honors as the SEC Co-Pitcher of the Year by tying her career-high in strikeouts (16 K) in her 18th complete game of the 2021 season. Bailey Hemphill also continued to prove why she was named as the outright SEC Player of the Year and went 2-for-2 with 4 RBI while drawing two walks.
After both schools lost their respective first match of the regional, Alabama State and Troy paired up for the first elimination game after Clemson's loss. Allowing only three hits, the Troy Trojans saved themselves from a bus ride home after defeating the Hornets by a final score of 8-0 in only six innings.
In the last game of the night, Clemson and Troy took it down to the wire after six straight innings knotted at 1-1. However, the Tigers were able to bust the game wide open in the top of the seventh with a pair of back-to-back RBI singles. The Trojans just had too much on their plate - too late in the game - to come back to save their season, and sent Clemson to the region's final round after a final score of 4-2.
Alabama (2-0) will take on Clemson (2-1) for a position in the 2021 NCAA Softball Super Regional in game six at 1:00 PM CST in Rhoads Stadium. Because of the double-elimination format, Alabama only needs one win on the last day of regional play to send the Tigers back to Clemson, South Carolina. If needed, an elimination game is scheduled to take place 30 minutes after the conclusion of game one.
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