Alabama Softball Suffers First Loss
Haylie McCleney
Haylie McCleney

Posted Feb 16, 2014


Not even the most rabid Alabama softball fan expected the Crimson Tide to go undefeated this year. Nevertheless, the first loss stings for the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide, even though it came at the hands of a ranked team on the road.



Alabama fell to 24th-ranked Arizona Saturday night at the Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, the Crimson Tide’s first game against a ranked team and it’s first loss. the Wildcats took a 3-0 decision.

Bama has been running roughshod over opponents with its offense, but Arizona held the Tide to only three hits. Indeed, earlier Saturday Alabama had won its eighth consecutive game to open the season by clubbing New Mexico, 9-1, in five innings.

With its win over Bama, the Wildcats improved to 8-0.

Alabama has a chance to avenge Saturday’s loss when the Crimson Tide and Wildcats meet in the final game of the tournament at noon Sunday.

Coach Patrick Murphy’s Crimson Tide has its first home action this week when the Bama Bash is held at Rhoads Stadium beginning Friday.

FIRST GAME

The Alabama offense had another explosive performance in the first game Saturday win over New Mexico. Six of the Tide’s nine starters had at least one hit. For the second time this weekend, the Crimson Tide blasted multiple home runs, including a two-run shot by Kallie Case, her first long ball of the season. Sydney Littlejohn (3-0) had another stellar outing in the circle, allowing just one unearned run and three hits with four strikeouts.

New Mexico (1-7) suffered its seventh-straight loss, with starter Tess McPherson (0-2) taking the loss after throwing just one-third inning with six runs allowed.

The Lobos scored first, giving the Tide its first deficit of the season. With runners at the corners in the top of the first, the Alabama defense caught the runner at third in a rundown but the ball was dropped on the tag attempt, allowing her to score off the fielding error. The Tide limited the damage to one run, stranding a runner at third to escape the half-inning trailing 1-0.

The Lobos’ lead didn’t last long, as Haylie McCleney led off the bottom of the first with a solo homer to tie the game at 1-1. Kaila Hunt gave Alabama the lead with an RBI double and later in the inning with the bases loaded, a throwing error allowed three to score and Case to stretch all the way to third as the lead swelled to 5-1. Case came home off a dropped third strike as the Tide ended the first inning with a 6-1 lead.

Danae Hays stretched Alabama’s lead to 7-1 in the third inning with a solo home run off the batter’s eye in center field. Marisa Runyon followed that with a single to set up Case for a high opposite-field homer that stretched the Tide’s lead to 9-1. Littlejohn would hold the Tide’s lead in the remaining two innings, as Alabama earned its fifth run-rule victory of the young season.

SECOND GAME

Jaclyn Traina (2-1) took the loss in the circle, though she pitched a strong second half of the game. All of Arizona’s runs and hits came in the first three innings. Estela Pinon (2-0) earned the win for Arizona throwing five innings with nine strikeouts.

Arizona struck first, as Hallie Wilson led off the bottom of the first with a solo home run that sailed just past the reach of a leaping McCleney’s glove at the left-center wall. The Wildcats would load the bases with two outs but a fly ball would hang up just long enough for Case to post up under it to strand the bases loaded as Alabama escaped the first inning with just a one-run deficit.

The Wildcats loaded the bases again in the bottom of the second with one away, as a walk pushed Arizona ahead 2-0. An infield popup to Hunt at second and a fly ball in foul territory to Andrea Hawkins allowed the Tide to escape another bases-loaded jam, limiting the damage to just one run in the second inning.

With two Alabama runners on base and two out in the top of the third, Arizona made an early pitching change to their ace, Kenzie Fowler, as she got the Wildcats out of the inning with a high popup into shallow left. Arizona stretched their lead in the bottom of the third as Lauren Young hit a one-out solo homer to make it 3-0.

Pinon reentered to pitch for Arizona in the top of the fifth after a scary at-bat with Fowler taking a hard shot off the head, though she walked it off immediately after. Alabama had an opportunity late in the half-inning with a pair of runners in scoring position, but they were ultimately left stranded as Arizona held onto its 3-0 lead.

Alabama went down in order in the top of the sixth and kept it within reach with a scoreless bottom of the sixth. The Tide couldn’t mount a rally in the final half-inning however, as they went down in order to give Alabama its first loss of the season.


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