Tide Softball Uses Long Ball In Win

TUCSON, Ariz. – Four home runs helped lift Alabama softball to a 13-5 win in its opening game at the Hillenbrand Invitational over Grand Canyon.

Alabama (6-0) got out to an early lead before Grand Canyon (3-5) came back to tie it in the third inning, but a potent Tide lineup provided plenty of run support to eventually put away the Antelopes. The Crimson Tide plated 13 runs, helped in part by four home runs that accounted for all but one of those runs.

Leslie Jury (3-0) pitched through some early trouble to earn her third complete-game victory of the season.

With the loss, Grand Canyon falls to 3-5. Taylor Nowin (0-1) entered to pitch with a five-run deficit in the first and took the loss, throwing 7 innings with five earned runs allowed.

Alabama didn't waste any time getting things rolling, as Haylie McCleney and Danielle Richard led off the game with back-to-back hits and Kaila Hunt drove in one with an RBI double down the left-field line to make it 1-0. Danae Hays was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Leona Lafaele cleared the bases with a grand slam to extend the lead to 5-0. After an early pitching change by Grand Canyon, they retired three-consecutive batters to end the half-inning as the Tide held the early 5-0 lead.

The Antelopes answered right back with their own hot start, loading the bases in the bottom of the first to set up Nicole Newbury for a two-run double to cut the Tide's lead to 5-2. Alabama escaped the jam, holding two Grand Canyon runners in scoring position to maintain the three-run lead.

GCU tacked on an unearned run in the bottom of the second to make it 5-3 and they tied it up the bottom of the third off a two-run homer to make it 5-5. The tie score didn't hold for long, as Hays put the Tide back on top with a three-run homer in the fourth to make it 8-5.

With two away in the top of the fifth, McCleney widened the gap with a three-run homer to dead center as the Tide moved ahead 11-5. The final blow came in the top of the seventh, as Andrea Hawkins blasted her first career home run over the right-field foul pole to swell the lead to 13-5.

Jury shut down the Antelopes in the bottom of the seventh to secure the lopsided win.

The Crimson Tide continues play at the Hillenbrand Invitational later tonight against Tennessee State (1-5)

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