"It was an awesome game tonight," said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy. "I thought it was a made-for-TV sporting event with the way it played out at the end. These were two really good teams with really good pitchers. I couldn't be more pleased to stay in the winner's bracket."
Alabama (52-11) needed just two runs to earn the win, as Leona Lafaele provided all the run support with a two-run homer in the second inning. The Tide was kept hitless for the remainder of the game, but Jaclyn Traina (25-3) was just as stingy in the circle, taking a no-hitter until the bottom of the sixth inning where she gave up an infield single.
"We were really mixing up the pitches," said Traina. "Molly (Fichtner) and I felt good with everything. Once they got through the lineup a few times, I knew they were going to put the ball in play. They're a good team."
Kentucky (50-18) was hitless until the bottom of the sixth when Sylver Samuel beat out a two-out infield single. That threat ended with Fichtner throwing out the speedy Samuel on a steal attempt.
The Wildcats threatened in their final at-bat, loading the bases with nobody out in the seventh. Traina, however, got the first out with a strikeout. Danae Hays was in perfect position to field a grounder in the next at-bat, as she made the flip over the Kaila Hunt covering second who then fired over to Lafaele at first to complete the 6-4-3 double play to end the game and give Alabama the 2-0 victory.
Kelsey Nunley (30-10) pitched a stellar outing in the circle, allowing just two earned runs off three hits but still suffered the tough complete-game loss.
Haylie McCleney roped the third pitch of the game into center field, looking to get something started early with a leadoff double. Kallie Case sacrificed her 60 feet closer with a bunt but a popup and groundout left her stranded at third as Alabama squandered the early scoring opportunity.
With two outs in the top of the second, Peyton Grantham poked a single up the middle and Lafaele followed that with a huge swing to give Alabama its first lead of the game, sending a towering home run into left-center to make it a 2-0 ballgame. The home run was her seventh of the season and her fourth with two outs in an inning.
Alabama's next game will not be until Sunday, June 1 at 2:30 p.m. CT. The opponent has yet to be decided, as it could be one of three teams that play on Saturday, May 31. Oklahoma will play Louisiana-Lafayette in an elimination game at 1:30 p.m., and the winner of that game will play Oregon at 8:30 p.m. Alabama will face the winner of that second game.