BIRMINGHAM – The Alabama gymnastics team scored a 197.650 to advance to Saturday night's NCAA Super…
Tide Softball Wins Two Close Games
Alabama (39-8) played two tense games of softball, needing a walk-off home run to defeat Georgia Southern (30-15) in game one and holding off some late rallies by North Carolina (22-23) in game two to earn the one-run victory. Kallie Case and Jadyn Spencer each earned four hits between the two games, while Spencer, Kaila Hunt and Marisa Runyon each hit home runs.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 6, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 4
Alabama needed some late-game heroics in its first game of the weekend, as the Crimson Tide won in walk-off fashion over Georgia Southern, 6-4. Alabama saw its 4-2 lead erased in the top of the seventh as the Eagles tied the game with a two-run homer. Jadyn Spencer answered with her own two-run homer in the bottom-half of the inning to break the Tide's three-game losing streak. Kallie Case led the Tide at the plate, going 3-3, while Spencer and Haylie McCleney each earned a pair of this. Jaclyn Traina (17-2) earned the win in the circle despite allowing a season-high nine hits, while Sarah Purvis (16-9) suffered the loss with over 120 pitches thrown.
Georgia Southern scored the first run of the game with two outs and a pair in scoring position in the top of the first, as a passed ball allowed both runners to advance, giving the Eagles a 1-0 lead. A fly ball limited the damage as it remained a 1-0 game heading to the bottom half of the inning. Alabama moved a pair into scoring position off a throwing error but could not bring them across in the bottom-half of the inning.
The pitchers' duel continued until Alabama threated in the bottom of the fourth, loading the bases with nobody out. Kallie Case tied the game with a single through the right side as everyone moved up a base. Later with one away, Runyon entered as a pinch-hitter and sent a fly ball to right field as Molly Fichtner tagged up at third to score off the sacrifice fly as Alabama took a 2-1 lead. A groundout ended the rally but the Tide now held the lead.
The Eagles tied the game in the top of the sixth as Morgan Robinson hit a solo home run into right field to make it a 2-2 ballgame. Alabama re-took the lead in the bottom-half of the inning as Marisa Runyon blasted her first career home run, a two-run bomb over the right-field fence that gave Alabama a 4-2 lead.
Alabama would take the two-run lead into the top of the seventh, looking to close the game against the bottom third of the Georgia Southern lineup. Lexi Allen hit a leadoff single for the Eagles and AJ Hamilton made it a 4-4 game with a two-run homer to center field. The potential go-ahead run would eventually move into scoring position but a long fly ball ended the top-half of the inning the score remained 4-4 heading to the bottom of the seventh.
Hunt started the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff walk and Spencer cleared the bases with a line-drive homer into center field as Alabama earned the 6-2 walk-off victory.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 4, NORTH CAROLINA 3
Alabama followed up its close game-one victory with another tight affair in game two, defeating North Carolina, 4-3. Alabama jumped ahead to an early 3-0 lead but UNC continued to battle back but could not convert on any of its late opportunities. Hunt and Spencer each earned a pair of hits, including home runs from each of them in the first inning. Hunt's home run is her team-leading 11th of the season and stretches her career total to 57, just three shy of tying the career record. Leslie Jury (14-5) earned the win in the circle, throwing 4.0 innings while Sydney Littlejohn earned her second save of the season, throwing 3.0 relief innings with just one hit allowed. UNC starter Lori Spingola (16-12) took the loss in the circle, throwing 4.0 innings.
Alabama got things going right away, as Hunt hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Spencer followed it up with a solo home run of her own, building an early 3-0 lead over the Tar Heels. North Carolina answered back immediately, loading the bases with nobody out in the bottom of the first as Jenna Kelly scored one off an infield single to make it 3-1. A sacrifice fly to left by Amber Parrish made it a 3-2 ballgame but Alabama got out of the inning with its lead intact thanks to a double play.
McCleney gave Alabama its two-run lead back in the top of the second, hitting a two-out double down the left-field line to score Danae Hays all the way from first, making the score 4-2. UNC narrowed the deficit to one run off a bases-loaded RBI single in the bottom of the third, but a weak flare to Hunt ended the inning with Alabama in front, 4-3.
A single and a double quickly put two in scoring position for UNC in the bottom of the fifth inning with nobody out. Jury worked Kristen Brown to a 2-2 count as Littlejohn entered to pitch for Alabama. Brown lined out to Hays on Littlejohn's first pitch and Hays ended the threat with a double play, snagging a line drive and then flipping the ball over to third base to catch the runner off the bag.
Alabama held onto its one-run lead for the remainder of the game, leading 4-3 in the seventh inning. The Tide couldn't add any insurance in the top-half of the inning, but two quick outs in the bottom-half quickly had UNC down to its final out. Amy Nece briefly extended the game with a two-out single but a fly ball to Chandler Dare in right field ended it as Alabama secured the 4-3 victory.
Alabama concludes its weekend Saturday at 11 a.m. CDT with a second game against North Carolina.
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