Alabama didn’t score many runs in its series against No. 1 ranked Florida in Gainesville this weekend, but the name of the game is score more than your opponent, and the Crimson Tide softball team did that in two of the three games to take the series.
Sydney Littlejohn pitched a complete game gem, a two-hitter, as Alabama took the rubber game, 3-0, on Sunday. It was the first time this year Florida has been shutout and it was the first time in over a year a Southeastern Conference team has beaten the Gators twice in a season.
Alabama, ranked sixth in the nation going into the series, improved to 31-7 overall and 5-4 in SEC games. The Gators fell to 34-3 and 9-3 in conference play.
Littlejohn (13-2) earned both wins against the Gators as she improved to 5-0 in SEC games.
A pair of defensive miscues allowed the first two Alabama runs to cross the plate in the first inning and Sydney Booker added some insurance with an RBI double in the sixth. Florida starter Delanie Gourley (10-2) took the loss, throwing 5 1/3 innings, while Aleshia Ocasio pitched 1 2/3 relief innings behind her.
Alabama put pressure on the Florida defense early, as Haylie McCleney led off the game with an infield single and Chandler Dare followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt, but a fielding error allowed McCleney to score and Dare to advance all the way to third as the Tide took the early 1-0 lead. With one out in the inning, Leona Lafaele reached safely on a passed ball after a strikeout, which also allowed Dare to come home and make it 2-0.
Florida would strand three runners on base through the first five innings, as it remained a 2-0 game heading to the sixth. Rachel Bobo pinch-hit to lead off the sixth and was hit by a pitch before being sacrificed into scoring position by Reagan Dykes. The Gators then turned to Aleshia Ocasio in the circle and Booker welcomed her to the game with an RBI double off the wall in left field to stretch Alabama’s lead to 3-0.
Alabama couldn’t add to its lead in a very heated top of the seventh that included Florida Coach Tim Walton being ejected by home plate umpire Leah Bowen, as it remained a 3-0 game heading to the home half of the inning. Florida would get a base runner on in the bottom-half of the inning but that was it as Alabama held on for the shutout victory.
Alabama won the first game of the series, 2-1; lost the second, 3-2; and won the third 3-0.
Next up, Alabama returns home to face Mississippi Valley State (8-19) in Tuscaloosa on Tuesday at 6 p.m. CDT.