Alabama continued its winning ways in the Bama Bash at Rhoads Stadium Saturday, though things didn’t go exactly the way it might have been expected. Against 15th-ranked Arizona, the Crimson Tide had a fairly easy time of it. Against a Marshall team that was not so highly regarded, it took a seventh inning home run from Leona Lafaele for Bama to get the win.
Fourth-ranked Alabama softball moved to 14-1 with the two wins. Next up, Alabama concludes its weekend at the Bama Bash against Tennessee (10-4) on Sunday at 1 p.m. CST.
The Alabama offense was on display in the opener against Arizona (10-5), scoring nine runs on nine hits while limiting the potent Wildcat offense to just one run on four hits in the 9-1 win that was Bama’s second against Arizona. The Tide were locked in a low-scoring affair against Marshall (6-4) in the nightcap, eventually breaking a 2-2 tie in the top of the seventh with a huge two-run home by Leona Lafaele for the 4-2 victory.
“We’ve been working on a lot of big hits, power hitting and getting the ball out of the infield,” Head Coach Patrick Murphy said. “Peyton [Grantham]’s hit won the game for us against Arizona and Leona’s did against Marshall. Those were key hits. Marshall and Arizona are both good teams.”
Alabama was able to take the first game against Arizona in six innings by virtue of the run rule. The Wildcats scored in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead, but the Tide responded with nine unanswered runs, ending the game on a three-run triple by Peyton Grantham.
The triple was part of a 2-4 game for Grantham, who also hit a two-run double in the first to put the Tide ahead. Haylie McCleney went 2-4 from the leadoff position, including a two-run homer in the fourth inning, while Demi Turner had a 2-2 day batting ninth with two runs scored.
Sydney Littlejohn (5-1) earned the win in the complete-game effort, allowing just one unearned run over six innings with seven strikeouts. Littlejohn has not allowed an earned run in 24 straight innings.
Arizona starter Taylor McQuillin (3-2) took the loss, exiting after just 1 1/3 innings. The top four in the Wildcat lineup each earned a hit, three of which came in the first inning, which accounted for the entire offensive effort.
The Wildcats took the 1-0 lead in the top of the first on a fielding error before the Tide took the lead in the bottom half on Grantham’s two-run double. An RBI double by McCleney in the second stretched it to 3-1 before she added two more with a homer in the next inning, putting Alabama ahead 5-1 heading to the fifth.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, Lafaele drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 6-1 and Grantham unloaded the bases in the next at-bat, popping a triple into right field to finish things at 9-1.
The Tide offense wasn’t as quick out of the gate in its second game of the day against Marshall, as the Thundering Herd hung around and tied the score twice before a huge two-run homer by Lafaele in the seventh finally put the Tide on top for good. Seven of the Tide’s nine starters earned a hit, including a 2-2 day from Sydney Booker in her first home start.
Madi Moore took a no-decision in the start despite throwing five strong innings with just two runs, one earned, and no walks. Alexis Osorio (4-0) earned the win in relief while Marshall starter Jordan Dixon (6-4) took the loss.
As the designated away team, Alabama got things started in the top of the first with an RBI single by Booker to score McCleney from second. With a runner on second in the bottom of the second, Marshall’s Alyssa Woodrum dropped a single into right field and a bobbled ball allowed the runner to score from third, tying it at 1-1.
The Tide retook the lead in the top of the fifth on Booker’s second RBI of the day, a groundout with two in scoring position. A throwing error to lead off the bottom of the sixth allowed Marshall to put a runner in scoring position as Osorio entered to pitch for the Tide. The runner immediately stole third in the next at-bat and another error allowed her to come home and tie it at 2-2.
McCleney drew a leadoff walk in the top of the seventh but a popup and a fly out brought Alabama down to its final out of the inning. Lafaele unloaded on a 2-2 pitch and sent the ball to the scoreboard in left-center, putting Alabama up 4-2.
Marshall would get a baserunner on in the bottom of the inning with one out, but back-to-back groundouts ended the game.
Alabama also celebrated Andrea Hawkins’ senior day. The Bay City, Texas native had a hit in both games.
“Andrea has been a great kid for four years,” Murphy said. “She comes from an outstanding family. She had some hardship this year when her dad passed away, but she’s come through bigger, better and stronger. She’s doing a great job with her grades and I’ve never had any issues with her whatsoever on and off the field. She’s the perfect example of a great student-athlete.
“We’re really glad that she chose to play her softball career in Crimson and White.”