It was Sydney here and Sydney there as the Alabama softball team defeated No. 1 ranked Florida, 2-1, Friday in Gainesville. Sydney Littlejohn pitched the Crimson Tide to victory and Sydney Booker was the Bama lead at bat and in the field.
Alabama, ranked sixth in the nation, improved to 30-6 overall and 4-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Florida, which suffered its first home loss of the year, is 33-2 and 8-2 in the conference.
Alabama starter Sydney Littlejohn (13-2) earned her third SEC win of the season, throwing 6 1/3 innings with one run on five hits. Alexis Osorio secured the final two outs in the seventh for her fourth save of the season. Florida starter Aleshia Ocasio threw 4 1/3 innings with one run allowed on six hits while reliever Delanie Gourley (10-1) took the loss in the final 2 2/3 innings.
Sydney Booker went 1-3 for the Tide with an RBI fielder’s choice and an RBI double. Chandler Dare went 2-4 for the Tide with six other Bama batters getting one hit in the win.
Booker also did it with the play of the game on defense. The Gators got their first hit in the fourth inning. The next batter looped a ball towards left field, but Booker went back and made a diving catch. She then fired back to first to get the double play. Good thing, too, because the next Florida batter, Kirsti Merritt, clubbed a home run to right center.
That tied the game at 1-1. Bama had taken the lead in the second inning when Reagan Dykes led off with a walk and was sacrificed into scoring position on a bunt by Peyton Grantham. Andrea Hawkins followed with an infield single just shy of the pitcher’s circle to put runners at the corners with one out. Booker dropped a ball into shallow center to drive in Dykes from third, but a force out at second took the hit away giving her the RBI fielder’s choice as Alabama moved up 1-0.
With a runner at first and two out in the top of the sixth, Booker pulled a double down the left field line and the speedy Hawkins scored from first, giving Alabama a 2-1 lead.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Kallie Case looked to make a spectacular catch in left field but the umpire called the ball down for a base hit. Florida would eventually put two in scoring position, but a fly ball at the warning track in right field would go down as the final out and preserve the Tide’s 2-1 lead.
Alabama couldn’t add to its lead in the top of the seventh and Florida had a one-out single in the bottom-half of the inning as Alabama turned to Osorio in the save situation. A force out at second went for out number two and a strikeout ended it.
The series continues at 2:30 CDT Saturday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Television coverage will be on ESPN2.