Alabama Softball Can’t Complete Sweep

How sweep it isn’t. Hoping for a series sweep against No. 23 Texas A&M , the fifth-ranked Alabama softball team fell to the Aggies 11-5, before a Rhoads Stadium crowd of 3,128 Sunday.

“Crappy day,” said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy. “No pitching. No defense. No continuous hitting, and bad base-running. That’s oh-for-four. You’re not going to win many games (like that).

“I’m not sure what it was, but hopefully it was just one of those things that happens once a year.”

Senior shortstop Danae Hays said, “It was like we were taking two steps forward, and four steps back. I feel like we got a little lull right there (mid-game), and that’s got to stop. We’ve got to cut that out. I’m tired of looking flat on Sunday(s).

“It seems like we’ll have a really good day with our pitching staff, and then our offense is a little slow. Then, we’ll have a really good offensive day, and our pitching staff can’t keep up. I’m trying to stay really optimistic, because I think we’re going to peak at the right time with our offense, our defense and our pitching staff all coming together at once.”

Alabama (25-8, 8-4 SEC) missed a golden opportunity early. Senior left fielder Danielle Richard opened the home half of the first with a single to left field, and freshman second baseman Demi Turner sacrifice bunted Richard to second. New three-hole hitter Hayley McCleney walked, and Hays flew to right for the second out. Designated Player Marisa Runyon struck out, but reached on a passed ball to load the bases. Junior first baseman Leona Lafaele then grounded into a fielder’s choice at second to end the threat.

The Aggies scored first in inning two as Cali Lanphear belted her third homer of the year with a man on to put the visitors up 2-0. Senior catcher Chauncey Bell led off the Tide second with a walk, and Rachel Bobo came in to run for her at first. Sophomore Chandler Dare popped out to third, and junior third baseman Kallie Case singled through the right side. Richard flew to deep center for the second out, and Turner singled off the glove of second baseman April Ryan. Though Bobo scored, Murphy sent Case as well, who was pegged at home. After two, A&M led 2-1.

McCleney led off the Tide third with a walk, and stole her 22nd base of the season. Hays flew to deep center, and McCleney took third on the tag. Runyon flew to short center, but, despite a late jump, McCleney managed to slide under catcher Ashley Walters’ tag at the plate. The teams went to the fourth tied at two.

The Aggies (25-9, 7-5) threatened in the fourth by loading the bases with one gone. Murphy took a trip to the mound before Abby Donnell stepped in, and worked the count full. A grounder to a diving Hays at short resulted in an out at third, but plated a run to give the Aggies the lead back. An RBI single by Erica Russell prompted Murphy to bring in Sydney Littlejohn. The sophomore gave up a two-run single to Kristen Cuyos. That pair of timely hits sent Texas A&M to the bottom of the fourth with a 6-2 lead.

Bell led off the fourth with a hit to left. Dare was nipped at first on a bunt, but Bell took second on the sacrifice. Case popped to left, and Richard walked before Turner doubled in a run to bring up McCleney with two down. The All-America junior walked to load the sacks. Her high school teammate Hays then singled to left, plating a pair, and the Aggies’ four-run lead was sliced to one. Runyon popped to center, ending the three-run frame.

Lanphear struck again in the fifth with a three-run homer off Littlejohn to provide some Aggie breathing room. In the seventh, a bases-loaded throwing error by Hays to the plate scored two more for A&M.

Alabama hosts Mississippi Valley State Tuesday at 6 p.m. C T., and Southern Miss visits Wednesday, also at 6.

Bama took the first two games of the series, winning Friday 13-0 via run rule and coming from behind to take Saturday’s clash, 8-5. For the weekend, Bell hit .500, while Case and Turner batted .444 each. Turner and Runyon drove in five runs each for the series.

Littlejohn was the weekend’s most effective Tide pitcher ERA wise, posting a 2.74 to Leslie Jury’s 4.20 and Sunday starter Alexis Osorio’s 4.34. Osorio took Sunday’s loss and fell to 11-4 on the year.

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