An explosive offense propelled Alabama softball to a record-setting performance in the 15-3 win over Florida Saturday evening to advance in the Women’s College World Series.

A six-run first inning set the tone for Alabama (58-9) in a dominant victory over Florida (49-18), needing just five innings to defeat the Gators. The 12-run margin of victory is the third-largest in Women’s College World Series history, the largest since Arizona defeated Fresno State, 12-0, in 1989. It is the Crimson Tide’s second run-rule victory at the WCWS, previously defeating Arizona, 14-0, in 2009. The 15 runs scored is the most by Alabama over Florida in program history.

Junior Bailey Hemphill was 2-for-3 at the plate, including a three-run home run in the fourth inning. The Lafayette, La., native is now Alabama’s single season record-holder in home runs (26) and RBIs (82), with her 26 home runs tying Mississippi State’s Mia Davidson for the SEC single-season record, set earlier this season.

Sophomore Kaylee Tow, hitting behind Hemphill, was 2-for-3 with four RBIs, three of which came on a first-inning home run that got the scoring started for the Tide. Sophomore KB Sides was 3-for-3 at the top of the order, while senior Reagan Dykes and junior Elissa Brown also posted multi-hit performances. Alabama’s third home run of the day came off the bat of senior Merris Schroder, a three-run shot in the first inning.

Sides led off the bottom of the third with a double to the wall in left and advanced to third on a wild pitch in the next at-bat. Hemphill was intentionally walked to put runners at the corners and Tow blasted a three-run home run to right field to give the Tide an early 3-0 lead. Schroder doubled the lead five batters later with another three-run home run, forcing a pitching change for Florida with Alabama now leading 6-0. A groundout ended the inning with the Tide holding the six-run advantage.

With two in scoring position and two out in the bottom of the third, a wild pitch moved both runners up 60 feet to increase the lead to 7-0. An RBI single from Sides stretched it to 8-0 and a throwing error following a single in the next at-bat allowed Sides to score and make it 9-0. A standup double from Tow pushed the lead to double digits as the Gators made another pitching change, with a groundout finally stopping the two-out rally with the score at 10-0.

Freshman Skylar Wallace reached on an error to lead off the bottom of the fourth and Dykes brought her home with a double down the right-field line, advancing to third on an error with the score 11-0. A two-out RBI single from Brown stretched it to 12-0 before Hemphill crushed a three-run home run to further swell the lead to 15-0.

Down to its final three outs in the top of the fifth, Florida did not go down quietly. A pair of home runs erased the shutout and put three runs on the board, but it was too little, too late as Alabama ultimately came away victorious by a score of 15-3.

Alabama will return to play a second game today, playing Arizona (48-13) tonight on ESPN following the conclusion of Oregon State vs. Washington.

For the latest information on the team, follow @AlabamaSB on Twitter, BamaSB on Instagram and Alabama Softball on Facebook. General athletic news can also be found at UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and AlabamaAthletics on Facebook.

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