Familiar heroes did the job for Alabama Sunday with Sydney Littlejohn throwing a shutout and team home run leaders Leona Lafaele and Reagan Dykes homered as the Crimson Tide took a 3-0 win over 11th ranked Kentucky to win the Southeastern Conference series at Rhoads Stadium.
Sydney Littlejohn (19-4) delivered her seventh shutout of the year as she went the distance with no walks and just four hits and allowing just one runner to get into scoring position. Wildcats ace Kelsey Nunley (18-5) took the loss.
“On Sunday in the SEC, usually everyone is going to pitch each girl twice,” Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said. “After that, it comes down to who makes the quicker adjustments — the hitter or the pitcher? I think Sydney did a lot better today than on Friday. Any time the ball cuts off the bat, you know that she’s going to have a good day because the ball is spinning that much. I noticed that the umpire grabbed the ball when the Kentucky batters fouled it off to look and see if it was cut because the spin was so great. That’s a really good sign to us that the ball is moving well.”
Alabama (41-9, 12-6 SEC) scored all three of its runs against Kentucky (39-11, 14-7 SEC) on home runs from Leona Lafaele and Reagan Dykes, each getting her second of the weekend. They are tied for the team lead with 11 each this season, including seven in the last eight games for Lafaele.
“It’s good to see both Reagan Dykes and Leona Lafaele hit the way they have this season,” Murphy said. “I think Reagan is feeding off of Leona for sure, especially since Leona goes before her in the batting order.”
Haylie McCleney set the tone immediately leading off the bottom of the first, poking a single down the left-field line. Later with two outs in the inning, Dykes blasted a two-run home run to left field to give Alabama the early 2-0 lead.
Alabama’s second home run of the day also came with two outs as Lafaele blasted a solo homer off the scoreboard to stretch the lead to 3-0.
Littlejohn and the Tide defense would do the rest of the work to close out the game, retiring 12 of the 13 batters faced after the third inning.