On a bitterly cold night in Tuscaloosa, the top-ranked Alabama softball team was handed its first loss of the season by No. 4 Florida. The Gators used six unanswered runs Wednesday night to beat the Crimson Tide 8-4 at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama (22-1) had not lost since the first game of last year's Women's College World Series Championship; Florida's (23-1) only loss this season was to Missouri last month.
This game won't have any SEC implications since it was considered a non-conference game, but it will affect the national rankings.
"It was a good test," said Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy. "I'm really glad we got to play them. I think it's going to benefit us down the road. You learn from it. It puts you in some adversity and you see how they bounce back."
The Tide begins SEC play this weekend with a road series at Tennessee.
Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina kept the Tide on top until trouble started in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded and the Tide up 4-2, leftfielder Brianna Little scored on a wild pitch to chip away at Bama's lead. Then after a walk reloaded the bases, catcher Aubree Munro had a RBI double to left field that put the Gators up.
UF added three more runs in the seventh to make the score 8-4, hammering Traina, who was replaced by Leslie Jury after 6.1 innings pitched. This was the first time all season Traina came out of a game she started. Heading into Wednesday, she had a 10-0 record with a 0.64 earned run average. She allowed eight runs—seven earned—on nine hits and struck out six.
"They hit a couple balls right on the nose at the end," Murphy said.
Florida took an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Alabama came back in the second and scored two runs to take the lead.
First baseman Jadyn Spencer reached on an error, then eventually scored on a wild pitch. Then with the bases loaded, catcher Molly Fichtner drew a walk that scored Kayla Braud to put the Tide up 2-1.
The Gators tied things up 2-2 in the fifth, Alabama took the lead back in the bottom half of the inning, but Florida fired back with back-to-back three-run innings in the sixth and the seventh for the win.
"I think it was great for us," Braud said in spite of the loss. "Obviously you want to come out with a win, but you live and you learn, you know? We just gotta find ways to get better."
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