One ball over the fence, another ball over the first baseman’s head. As she has five times in the past five games, Leona Lafaele clubbed a two-run home run for the Alabama softball team. But the winning runs for the Crimson Tide came home when a throw to first base sailed into right field, allowing two runs to score. Bama took a 4-2 win over South Alabama Wednesday at Rhoads Stadium.
Fourth-ranked Alabama scored its four runs on only six hits – two of them by Lafaele – and improved to 39-8. The Jaguars fell to 26-13.
Over her past five games, Lafaele is 7-13 for a .538 batting average and has five homers.
“Leona is seeing the ball really well,” Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said. “She had a great weekend against Texas A&M and that carried over into today. Towards the end of the year, you need someone to do that. We just needed to put more people on in front of her tonight to score.”
Sydney Littlejohn (18-3) and Alexis Osorio each pitched in the victory. Littlejohn earned her 18th win of the year. Osorio threw 2 2/3 shutout relief innings, striking out seven of the nine batters she faced, to earn her fifth save.
USA reliever Destin Vicknair (11-3) took the loss after a costly throwing error gave Alabama the lead in the fourth inning.
South Alabama struck first, pulling ahead 1-0 in the top of the first on a fielding error.
Lafaele erased the deficit in the bottom-half of the inning with a two-run homer that just stayed fair over the pole down the left-field line.
A solo home run by South Alabama’s Dayla Gulledge in the top of the second tied it back up at 2-2.
In the bottom of the fourth, with two runners in scoring position and two out, the Jaguars catcher fielded the ball just in front of home plate, and then threw it over the first baseman’s head, allowing both runs to score and Alabama to finish the scoring.
Alabama returns to Southeastern Conference play this weekend, hosting No. 11 Kentucky for a three-game series at Rhoads Stadium beginning at 6:30 p.m. CDT Friday.