Softball Falls to Texas Friday, Forces Decisive Game Three Saturday
Alabama softball jumped ahead to an early 4-0 lead, but Texas fought back to outscore the Crimson Tide 7-1 down the stretch, winning game two 7-5 to force a decisive game three Saturday at 1 p.m. CT on ESPN.
Alabama (56-8) scored three quick runs in the first inning and added another in the second. A three-run home run from Texas (46-16) cut the deficit to one in the third inning and another home run and a costly fielding error plated three, giving the Longhorns a 7-4 lead. A solo home run in the top of the fifth from junior Bailey Hemphill narrowed the gap to two runs, but that was the final tally of the day for either team.
This is Alabama’s fifth Super Regional series that has stretched to three games, with the Tide 2-2 in previous efforts. Alabama defeated Stanford (2011) and Oklahoma (2015) in three games, but fell to Hawai’i (2010) and Florida (2017).
Hemphill’s home run puts her one shy of Kelly Kretschman’s single-season record of 25, which has stood since 1998. It also increases her RBI total to 77, just three shy of Marisa Runyon’s single-season record from 2015. She has also reached base safely in 36-straight games. A first-inning walk to sophomore Kaylee Tow improved her season total to 65, just one away from Cassie Reilly-Boccia’s school-record mark from 2010. Freshman Montana Fouts (18-5) took the loss in the circle.
After going hitless through the first two-plus innings on Thursday, the bats were quicker this time around for the Tide with sophomore KB Sides sending a single up the middle in the second at-bat of the game. Tow and Hemphill drew back-to-back walks behind her to put two on base, and a groundout to the right side pushed a run across to give Alabama the early 1-0 lead. With two in scoring position following the groundout, freshman Skylar Wallace laced a single into center field to drive them both home and open the lead up to 3-0 before a flyout ended the half-inning.
After a one-out walk to senior Merris Schroder in the top of the second, the excited crowd at Rhoads Stadium came to a standstill after a scary incident with Texas pitcher Miranda Elish being struck in the face. She was helped off the field by team trainers, with freshman lefty Shealyn O’Leary entering in relief. A wild pitch with two out moved Schroder to second and Sides chopped an infield single to the shortstop, with an errant throw down to first allowing Schroder to score and make it 4-0.
Back-to-back singles with one out in the bottom of the third put runners at the corners for Texas before Fouts entered the game in relief. Longhorn sophomore Mary Iakopo welcomed her to the game with a three-run home run, drawing Texas within one. Alabama would get out of the inning with a 4-3 lead.
Texas tied it up with another home run, a solo shot from MK Tedder leading off the bottom of the fourth. After back-to-back singles, Goodman re-entered the game to pitch for Alabama. A sac bunt moved the runners into scoring position and a walk loaded the bases. A costly fielding error plated two runs as Texas moved ahead 6-4 and an RBI groundout added another before a fly ball ended the inning with the score at 7-4.
A solo home run from Hemphill in the top of the fifth cut the deficit to two, but that was the final run scored for either team as the Longhorns held on for the comeback victory.
The teams will play for a chance to advance to the Women’s College World Series, with game three of the weekend series set for a 1 p.m. CT first pitch on Saturday, May 25 live on ESPN.
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