Alabama’s Chandler Dare had the disappointment of recording the final out with the bases loaded in a one-run loss to Kentucky on Friday night. Dare more than made up for it with a big day at the plate Saturday as the Crimson Tide took a 7-1 win to even the series.
The season-high crowd of 3,580 at Rhoads Stadium saw not only the current Bama standouts, but also stars of the Crimson Tide’s exceptional program of the last 20 years. The large continent of former players was on hand to celebrate Bama’s 20th year of softball.
“I told the alums before the game that I feel like I haven’t had to work a day in my life, and I mean that,” Coach Patrick Murphy said. “It is a true blessing. I haven’t seen some of these players in years, so it was great to see them. The alums ranged from 1997 all the way to this year. I’ve been here from the beginning and I try to keep in touch with everyone. It’s fun to connect with them.”
Fourth-ranked Alabama improved to 40-9 overall and 11-6 in Southeastern Conference games. The Wildcats, ranked 11th in the nation, fell to 39-10 overall, 14-6 in the conference.
The rubber game will begin at 1:30 p.m. CDT Sunday at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama had a five-run sixth inning to secure Saturday’s win.
After recording the final out in Friday night’s loss, Chandler Dare responded with a 2-4 day on Saturday, driving in four runs on a pair of singles. The four RBIs tied a career-high for the junior and marked her 12th multi-hit game of the season.
“It says a lot about Chandler to come back from yesterday and have four RBIs on two hits today,” Murphy said. “She is a very resilient player.”
Leona Lafaele drove in the remaining three runs of the day for Alabama on a monster three-run home run in the sixth inning that bounced off the scoreboard. Andrea Hawkins went 3-3 with two runs scored batting seventh while Peyton Grantham laid down a school-record three sacrifice bunts behind her in the eight-hole.
Alexis Osorio (13-5) threw a complete-game victory with seven strikeouts and just one run allowed on four hits and a walk. Megan Prince (17-4) took the loss for the Wildcats, allowing seven runs on 10 hits.
Alabama struck the first blow in the bottom of the fourth on a two-run single by Dare. Kentucky cut the lead in half with an RBI single by Abbey Cheek in the top of the sixth but Dare added two more to the Tide’s lead with another two-run single in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded to make it 4-1. With two on base following Dare’s single, Lafaele drove everyone in on the next at-bat with a three-run homer to pad Alabama’s lead to 7-1. Kentucky would load the bases with one out in the top of the seventh but a popup and groundout ended the threat.