So, we learn, Alabama didn’t have hot bats as the Crimson Tide softball team banged out a handful of them, including two home runs in a seven-run fourth inning. Alabama made quick work of Troy in its home opener Wednesday, with an 8-0 shutout of the Trojans.
Alabama (11-1) needed just 90 minutes and five and a half innings to defeat Troy (7-4) on an icy evening at Rhoads Stadium.
A key to the victory was the seven-run fourth inning that included home runs by Mari Cranek and Peyton Grantham.
Coach Patrick Murphy said, “I told Peyton to make this our big inning and keep it going. Usually when someone hits a home run, it lulls everyone else. It was really nice to see everyone behind her keep it going because we really needed to do that.
“Usually in cold weather we hit well. It’s usually the pitch selection that kills you. When you still swing at good pitches, no matter how cold it is, the ball usually comes off the bat like a golf ball. It’s a cold ball, a cold bat, and boom.”
Eight of the Tide’s nine starters had at least one hit.
The game also featured the return to action of star center fielder Haylie McCleney, whoi had been out since being hit by a pitch against UAB last Wednesday. McCleney had a 2-for-2 day at the plate and also stole her 100th career base in the big fourth inning. She became just the sixth player in Alabama history to record 100 career stolen bases.
Sydney Littlejohn (3-1) threw a complete game for the Tide, allowing just four hits and striking out seven. Troy starter Ashley Rainey (4-3) took the loss, exiting after 3 1/3 innings with seven of the eight runs credited to her.
Both teams were scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, when McCleney smacked an RBI double that bounced off the wall in left field, driving Andrea Hawkins in to make it 1-0 Alabama.
In the fourth inning, Marisa Runyon got things started with a double off the wall in center field and Grantham drove them both in with a home run, extending the lead to 3-0. Back-to-back singles set up Cranek for her first career long ball, blasting a home run down the right-field line to double the lead to 6-0.
A single up the middle by Demi Turner in the next at-bat ended Rainey’s outing in the circle as Peyton Glover entered to pitch. Later, with runners at the corners, Reagan Dykes lifted a fly ball into left field for a sacrifice fly and Leona Lafaele doubled into the right field gap to score another and make it an eight-run game.
Facing an early end in the top of the fifth, Troy managed a two-out single, but Littlejohn’s seventh strikeout ended the game as Alabama earned the run-rule victory.
Next up, Alabama hosts the Easton Bama Bash this weekend, welcoming No. 15 Arizona, No. 14 Tennessee, and Marshall to Tuscaloosa. Action begins on Friday against the Wildcats at 6 p.m. CST.