Tide Softball Rallies To Edge Jaguars

It is difficult to get hits in college softball. It’s particularly hard, as was demonstrated at South Alabama’s Jaguar Field in Mobile Thursday, when the batters are being hit.

Alabama managed only its second and third hits of the game in the seventh inning of the season-opening game against South Alabama Thursday, but a single by Chandler Dare brought in two runs and the Crimson Tide was able to avoid its first opening day shutout loss since 1998. Third-ranked Bama emerged with a 2-1 win over No. 23 South Alabama.

Dare’s hit came after six tough innings for the Tide (1-0), as South Alabama (0-1) starter Farish Beard (0-1) was effectively wild, holding the Tide scoreless despite hitting six batters. That ties an Alabama school record for the most times hit by a pitch, which was originally set in game two of the 2012 Women’s College World Series against Oklahoma.

Freshman Demi Turner laid down a successful bunt single with one out in the top of the seventh as the lineup turned back to the top of the order. Turner stole second and Haylie McCleney was walked to put two on with one out. Dare came through with the clutch at-bat, a hit into center field, to bring home both runners and give the Tide a 2-1 lead.

Leslie Jury pitched 5 1/3 innings to start the game but freshman Alexis Osorio (1-0) was credited with the win, throwing 1 2/3 relief innings with four strikeouts in her collegiate debut.

Dare’s two-run single was just the third for Alabama, and it followed the second hit, Turner’s bunt single. Chaunsey Chaunsey Bell and Demi Turner were the only other players to grab a base hit.

Haylie McCleney had three stolen bases despite not registering an official at-bat as she was hit by a pitch three times and walked. She scored the winning run in the final inning.

The two teams were scoreless until the bottom of the third, when Chloe Rathburn’s single to center field scored Kaleigh Todd from second. Rathburn attempted to steal second base, but Tide catcher Chaunsey Bell threw her out to keep South Alabama to a 1-0 lead.

Alabama had its first scoring opportunity in the top of the fourth. With a runner on first, Bell broke up the no-hitter with a double to shallow right. The runner tried to make it all the way home, but was caught in a rundown and out to end the inning.

The Jaguars loaded the bases with one out in the sixth. Freshman Alexis Osorio came into the game and ended the threat with a strikeout and pop-up.

The drama was not over. An error put the tying-run at second with two outs. Osorio, though, struck out the final batter for the win.

The Tide continues its opening weekend Friday with a pair of games in the Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores. Bama will take on Eastern Kentucky (3 p.m. CST) and Houston (6 p.m.). On Saturday, Alabama will play Florida Gulf Coast (3 p.m.) and Florida International (6 p.m.) and will then close the weekend on Sunday against McNeese (1 p.m.).

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