Marisa Runyon blasted a fourth-inning grand slam home run to key Alabama’s 8-1 win over Mississippi State Sunday and give the Crimson Tide a sweep of the Southeastern Conference softball series at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama, which trailed by 1-0 early in the game, rebounded on the strength of excellent two-out play, scoring seven of its eight runs when the Tide was down to its last out in the inning. In addition to her home run, Runyon drove in a fifth run with a sixth-inning double.
“She is really clutch,” head coach Patrick Murphy said about Runyon. “She has been thrown into those clutch situations so many times and has come through, so we expected it. It’s fun to watch.”
Sydney Littlejohn (16-2) threw 4 1/3 innings in the win for Alabama while Alexis Osorio pitched 2 2/3 shutout relief innings behind her. Littlejohn is 7-0 in SEC games.
Haylie McCleney posted her sixth three-hit performance of the season, scoring three times and driving in one on a sixth-inning RBI triple. Eight of the team’s nine starters on offense reached base safely in the game and all 14 of the team’s offensive players saw time in the game.
Alabama improved to 35-7 overall and 8-4 in SEC play, while the Bulldogs fell to 21-18 overall, 2-10 in the conference.
The Bulldogs used five pitchers, with Mackenzie Toler (0-1) taking the loss.
“It’s tough to get a sweep against any SEC opponent,” Murphy said. “You can tell that Mississippi State brought in the cavalry today throwing five different pitchers. It was a big win for us. Every win in SEC play is a big one.”
For the first time this weekend, Mississippi State took a lead over Alabama with a solo home run by Katie Anne Bailey in the top of the first.
The Bulldogs remained in front until the bottom of the third when Leona Lafaele pulled an RBI single through the left side to score McCleney from third and tie the game at 1-1. After Lafaele stole second base in the next at-bat, Reagan Dykes dropped a single into right field to drive in Lafaele and give Alabama the 2-1 lead.
The Tide mounted a rally with two outs in the fourth inning. Back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases for Runyon. The left-handed hitter blasted a long home run over the right field fence to make it 6-2.
An RBI triple by McCleney in the sixth made it 7-1 and Runyon added the final run of the game later in the inning, driving in one on a wind-aided double that dropped in between three fielders in shallow right to make it 8-1.
Alabama next plays a non-conference game at 6 p.m. CDT Tuesday at Southern Miss (20-22).