Alabama Athletics

Peyton Grantham and Leona Lafaele deliver key hits in Alabama win

Alabama softball made the most of its first 2016 series in Rhoads Stadium with four wins

It took Alabama’s softball team a while to get to Rhoads Stadium this season, but when the Crimson Tide finally arrived for the Bama Bash it was a productive homecoming.

Alabama took four wins in the tournament, including two against No. 15 Arizona, and the Tide finished things off in fine fashion with its third walk-off win of the weekend, a 6-5 Sunday afternoon win over No. 14 Tennessee.

Bama trailed 5-3 going to the bottom of the seventh, but got key hits from Peyton Grantham and Leona Lafaele to score three runs and get the victory.

 Grantham put fourth-ranked Alabama (15-1) up in the bottom of the first with a three-run homer, but Tennessee (10-5) rallied to tie the game in the fifth and pull ahead 5-3 in the sixth. With two on and one out in the seventh, a double into right field by Grantham and a single in the gap by Lafaele drove in three to give Alabama the 6-5 win.

“This game definitely tells our team that we’re never out of a game,” Coach Patrick Murphy said. “Friday against Arizona showed it, Saturday against Marshall showed it and this did too. All it takes is for one person to get on base and after that, the floodgates usually open. Those were great at-bats by Leona and Peyton today. That’s big time clutch hitting.”

Batting third in the lineup, Grantham went 2-4 with four runs batted in, marking her fifth multi-RBI game of the season. This already matches her total from her entire 2014 freshman season. Over the weekend, Grantham went 5-13 (.385) with two doubles, a triple and a home run and nine RBIs.

“I talked to the team earlier this year about the three-hole hitter being a run producer getting key hits,” Murphy said. “I told the team today that if anyone wants to know what I want out of the three hole, it was what Peyton did today. Four RBIs with a three-run home run to start it and then a late double. She fit the role perfectly today.”

Alabama starter Alexis Osorio (5-0) gutted out a complete-game performance to remain undefeated this season, throwing nine strikeouts in seven innings. Grantham and Demi Turner posted multi-hit performances while Lafaele’s lone hit of the day was the walk-off RBI single, her second walk-off hit in as many days.

Tennessee starter Erin Gabriel lasted just one inning and was on the hook for the loss before the Vols rallied late to pull ahead. Reliever Matty Moss (3-1) took the loss for the Vols, throwing five shutout innings before allowing the three runs in the bottom of the seventh.

The Tide offense got things started in the bottom of the first, as Haylie McCleney and Turner reached base safely to lead off the inning and Grantham cleared the bases with a three-run homer. The lead would remain the same until the top of the fifth, as an RBI double by Meghan Gregg and a two-run homer by Shaliyah Geathers tied it at 3-3. Another long ball put the Vols ahead in the sixth, a two-run shot by Lexi Overstreet to make it 5-3.

 

The lead remained the same in the bottom of the seventh when Sydney Booker was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning for Alabama. A popup went for out number one before McCleney drew a walk to put two on and bring the potential go-ahead run to the plate. A force-out at third on the next play brought the Tide down to its final out with runners now at first and second. Grantham dropped a double into right field to score one and the trailing runner came home after the right fielder misplayed the ball, tying the game at 5-5.

With Grantham now at third after the error, Lafaele roped the ball into the right-field gap as Grantham strolled home as the game-winning run.

Alabama goes back on the road playing at Jacksonville State (7-7) on Wednesday at 5 p.m. CST.


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