After two games in Gainesville, No. 6 Alabama and No. 1 Florida appear to be evenly matched softball teams. The Crimson Tide won the Friday opener by a run (2-1) and the Gators took the second game Saturday by a run (3-2). The rubber game will be Sunday.
Saturday’s highlight for Alabama was Reagan Dykes delivering a two-run homer in the fourth inning. She leads the Tide with nine home runs and is the first Bama freshman to have at least nine home runs since Jaclyn Traina and Kaila Hunt did it in 2011.
Alabama made a run in the top half of the seventh inning, getting two runners aboard with one out, but the Tide could not get anyone home.
The series concludes Sunday in Gainesville, with game three set for a Noon CDT start at Katie Seashole Pressley Stadium.
Alabama (30-7, 4-4 SEC) and Florida (34-2, 9-2 SEC) each had six hits with a close play at the plate accounting for the Gators’ game-winning run.
Tide starter Alexis Osorio (8-5) went the distance in the loss, striking out eight with just two walks and three hits. Florida starter Kelly Barnhill (12-0) threw 5 1/3 innings to earn the win while game one loser Delanie Gourley threw 1 2/3 relief innings for her second save of the season.
With two out in the bottom of the first, Florida looked to put something together with a walk, base hit and hit-by-pitch to load the bases. Osorio rebounded to strike out Taylore Fuller swinging and strand the bases loaded, keeping the game scoreless. The teams were taken off the field for a brief rain delay in the bottom of the second and after returning 15 minutes later, Osorio struck out the side to keep it scoreless through two innings.
The Gators broke into the run column first on a two-out RBI double by Amanda Lorenz in the bottom of the third. Leona Lafaele smacked the Tide’s first hit of the day in the top of the fourth, a one-out single up the middle, and Dykes followed with a two-run home run to left field to give Alabama a 2-1 lead. Later with a runner at first, Alabama looked to extend its lead on a double by Sydney Booker but the runner was tagged out at home.
Florida answered with a long ball to tie it in the bottom half of the fourth, a solo shot by Taylor Schwarz to left field, to make it 2-2. The Gators retook the lead in the bottom of the fifth as Kayli Kvistad dropped a single into left field and Kelsey Stewart slid under the tag attempt at home to make it 3-2 on the RBI single. Later with a runner at second and two out, Nicole Dewitt popped a single to the edge of the infield as the runner broke for home to score, but Booker fired in to Dykes who tagged her out at home for the final out of the inning.
After a one-out walk to Dykes in the top of the sixth and a ball to Peyton Grantham, Florida turned to its bullpen as the left-handed junior Gourley entered to pitch. Grantham poked a single into shallow left field to put two on base, but a strikeout and a throw down to second to catch the runner off the bag ended the opportunity.
The Gators got a runner into scoring position in the bottom of the sixth but could not add to its one-run lead as the Tide entered the seventh trailing 3-2. With one out in the top of the seventh, Kallie Case and Haylie McCleney reached on back-to-back infield singles but a popup and a groundout ended the rally.