Alabama softball traditionally takes a little time about getting to Rhoads Stadium to play in front of the home crowd. But after a worthwhile early February trip to Orlando, the Crimson Tide will get a little closer to home this week.
The Alabama softball team of Coach Patrick Murphy earned a 4-1 record in Orlando. Next up, Alabama will head to Birmingham to play UAB (1-4) on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CST.
The latest win for the fifth-ranked Crimson Tide came Sunday when Bama wrapped up play in the UCF Knights Invitational with a 10-6 victory in six innings of the Liberty Flames.
Alabama has now won four or more games on opening weekend every season since 2011. Sunday’s win over Liberty (2-4) saw the offense score in five of the game’s six innings, including a five-run third that gave the Tide a big cushion. Demi Turner went 2-3 from the leadoff position, driving in two runs, while the bottom third in the Tide order combined to go 6-10 with six runs and six RBIs. After a key triple in last night’s win, Marisa Runyon put together a 2-3 performance on Sunday, including a third-inning RBI single.
Junior Sydney Littlejohn (1-1) earned her first win of the season, throwing four innings with two runs allowed on four hits, while Alexis Osorio backed her up with two shutout relief innings with five strikeouts and just two hits allowed. Liberty starter Chase Cassady (1-1) took the loss, exiting after 3 1/3 innings with only two of her seven runs allowed being earned .
Andrea Hawkins had the Tide’s first hit and first run of the day. She had a one-out triple to the wall in right-center, and then scored on a groundout.
Runyon doubled the Tide’s lead in the bottom of the third, battling through a long at-bat before driving a one-out RBI single back up the middle, scoring Leona Lafaele from second. Later in the inning with two out and runners at the corners, Hawkins lined an RBI single into center field to score Rachel Bobo. An infield single by Chandler Dare scored Sydney Booker to make it 4-0 and a two-run double by Turner in the next at-bat swelled it to a six-run lead. Haylie McCleney drew a two-out walk as Alabama officially batted around in the inning.
The Flames cut the lead to 6-2 in the top of the fourth.
With runners at the corners and one out in the bottom of the fourth, Liberty made a pitching change as freshman Julia DiMartino entered the circle, fresh off a five-inning no hitter Saturday against Stetson. Booker dropped the first pitch she saw down for a sacrifice bunt, advancing both runners to move Runyon to second and score Lafaele from third as the Tide pulled ahead 7-2.
With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Turner had her second extra-base hit with a triple into left field and an errant throw from the outfield allowed Turner to score.
With two out in the bottom of the sixth, Booker and Hawkins dropped back-to-back singles into left field, putting the potential game-ending runs on base. Dare followed through and ended it with a triple into deep right field, scoring the two runners to give Alabama the 10-2 run-rule victory.