Bama Softball Opens NCAA Play With Win

The NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional softball tournament beat the bad weather on opening day Friday, and the expected top two seeds took easy wins to move on in the winners bracket for Saturday games.

In the second game of the day Friday, Alabama cruised to an 8-0 shutout win over Fairfield in six innings, advancing to play Washington on Saturday. Washington defeated South Carolina Upstate, 4-1, in the first game of the regional at Rhoads Stadium.

Due to the projection of bad weather Saturday evening, second day game times have been adjusted forward. Alabama will play Washington at 11 a.m. CDT, followed by the elimination game of South Carolina Upstate vs. Fairfield at 1:30. The loser of the Bama-Washington game will play the winner of the Upstate-Fairfield game at 4 p.m.

Alabama (43-12) was strong offensively from top-to-bottom, as everyone in the lineup reached base safely while eight of the nine starters would have at least one base hit. Demi Turner went 4-4 out of the leadoff position, tying her own season high for hits set against Pacific on Feb. 15. Her four hits are the most for any Tide player in a game this season.

Three of the Tide’s eight runs were scored by way of the long ball, as Danae Hays hit a towering two-run home run in the third inning and Haylie McCleney slapped a solo homer in the fourth.

Tide starter Sydney Littlejohn (16-1) turned in a masterful performance in the circle as she held Fairfield (25-23) to just two hits while not issuing a single walk and throwing 45 of her 62 pitches for strikes. Fairfield starter Lauren Falkanger (11-12) was chased after four innings, allowing six runs on 10 hits while reliever Destinee Pallotto was charged with two runs.

“I thought Sydney did a really good job,” said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy. “She was hitting her spots for the most part. We played really good defense. We attacked them on offense. I told the team I’d much rather have 15 hits and eight runs than two hits and no runs. I’ll take the hits all day long. I think the longer we play the more we are going to get people going with the RBIs.”

After a 1-2-3 top half of the first, Alabama got the scoring started in the bottom half courtesy of a pair of RBI singles by Jadyn Spencer and Leona Lafaele to make it 2-0. In the bottom of the second, the Tide led off the inning with back-to-back singles and Chandler Dare moved both into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. A hard slap to the Fairfield second baseman couldn’t drive in the runner from third as she threw home to tag her out, putting runners at the corners with two away. After a stolen base left first base open, Fairfield chose to intentionally walk Marisa Runyon and load the bases with two outs. A high popup behind the plate left the bases loaded for the second straight inning however, as Alabama couldn’t add to its 2-0 lead.

Lafaele led off the bottom of the second with her second hit of the day, a double into the left field gap, while Hays followed that with a towering two-run homer that bounced off the top of the scoreboard to make it 4-0. McCleney hit the Tide’s second home run of the day to lead off the bottom of the fourth, slapping a solo shot off the scoreboard to make it 5-0.

An RBI triple by Chaunsey Bell in the bottom of the fifth made it a 6-0 game and she was driven home on a high fly ball by Kallie Case, as the sacrifice fly made it 7-0. Turner slid into second base for a one-out double, representing the potential game-ending run, but a pair of fly balls left her stranded as the Tide could not secure the five-inning run rule victory. Alabama had another chance to end it in the bottom of the sixth with two on and two out and capitalized, as Carrigan Fain roped an RBI single down the left field line to end the game, 8-0, in six innings.

The Washington Huskies beat the USC Upstate Spartans 4-1 to open the 2015 NCAA Softball Tuscaloosa Regional.

After opening in the bottom of the first inning, Washington added two runs in the third and another in the fifth. Upstate answered the Huskies in the top of the second inning to temporarily tie things up before Washington took control of the game with solo home runs from Taylor Van Zee in the third and Kimberlee Souza in the fifth.

Lexi Stanchek picked up the win for the Huskies, pushing her record to 14-7, while Kasey Shubert took the loss for USC Upstate, falling to 33-6.

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