On Saturday, Marisa “Home” Runyon more than lived up to her reputation with three home runs in leading Alabama to a 14-2 pounding of Arkansas at Bogle Park in Fayetteville. The Crimson Tide has clinched the series and goes for the sweep at 2 p.m. CDT Sunday.
The win improved Alabama to 40-11 overall and 16-7 in Southeastern Conference play. Bama will be the third seed in the SEC Tournament beginning later this week in Baton Rouge.
Eight of Alabama’s nine starters had hits against the Razorbacks, but the one who hit for the most distance was Runyon. Her three home runs made her just the second player in Crimson Tide softball history to hit three home runs in a game, joining Jaclyn Traina who did so on Feb. 26, 2011 vs. Western Michigan. It was Runyon’s fourth multi-homer game of the season, which is a first in program history. She went into the game tied with former Bama All-America Kelly Kretschman, who had three multi-homer games in 1998.
Four other Tide players had multi-hit games in the win, including Demi Turner who now has a team-leading 25 multi-hit games this season. After earning a season-high three hits in Bama’S Friday win, Kallie Case had two on Saturday while also driving in three runs.
Reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week Leslie Jury (10-3) earned the win, allowing just two runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings while Sydney Littlejohn threw 1 1/3 shutout innings in relief.
Arkansas (16-36, 1-22 SEC) took its first lead of the weekend courtesy of a solo home run in the bottom of the first, but the lead was short-lived as the Tide came storming back to the tune of nine unanswered runs in the lopsided loss. Arkansas was able to score one in the bottom of the fifth and avoid the run-rule, but Alabama would score five more runs in the remainder of the game. Sophomore Grace Moll (1-9) got the start again on Saturday and made an early exit, lasting just one official inning while allowing six earned runs without recording an out in the top of the second.
Arkansas took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the first on a solo home run by Kasey Fagan.
The lead didn’t last long however, as a solo home run by Runyon to lead off the top of the second tied the game back up at 1-1. A walk and back-to-back hits loaded the bases and hits by Andrea Hawkins and Demi Turner knocked in three runs to give Alabama a 4-1 lead. A walk would load the bases back up and another walk and an infield single allowed two more to cross the plate, swelling the lead to 6-1. A groundout brought home the final run of the inning and a 7-1 lead.
Alabama got out of a bases loaded jam in the bottom of the second with a strikeout that preserved its lead while an RBI single by Haylie McCleney in the top of the third made it a seven-run game, 8-1. Runyon’s second home run of the day came in the top of the fourth inning and extended the lead to 9-1, setting up Alabama for a run-rule victory in five innings. Arkansas was retired in order in the bottom of the fourth but a leadoff walk in the bottom of the fifth came back to hurt Alabama, as she was later driven in on a deep RBI double to keep Arkansas alive as the Hogs had pulled to within 9-2.
The Razorbacks would threaten again in the bottom of the sixth, loading the bases with two out as Littlejohn entered in relief, needing just two pitches to get out of the jam and maintain the 9-2 lead heading to the seventh inning. Alabama tacked on a pair of runs in the top of the seventh on a two-run single by Kallie Case and Runyon broke the game wide open with her third home run of the day, a three-run shot to make it a 14-2 game. That lead proved final as Arkansas went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.