Alabama Softball Coach Patrick Murphy said early in the season, “We’re never out of a game.” After Saturday’s 9-7 win over Georgia at Rhoads Stadium, Murphy could add, “I think today was the proof.”
Trailing 7-1 in the sixth inning, Alabama softball put together an eight-run inning to make an incredible comeback against Georgia and clinch the series.
The eight-run inning included seven hits in 13 plate appearances, the first of which came off the bat of pinch-hitter Caroline Hardy. The freshman now has three hits in pinch-hit situations, the most of any Tide player.
“She has been sitting on the bench and to come out with a big hit like that was huge,” Murphy said. “It got the rally started. She has accepted her role and has perfected it. Reagan [Dykes] struggled in her first two at-bats and Hardy seems to have a knack for getting on base. It was just a hunch.”
The win improved Alabama to 45-10 overall and 16-7 in Southeastern Conference play. Georgia, ranked 15th in the nation, fell to 39-16, including 11-12 in the conference, as Bama took the second of the three-game series. The series finale will be at 1:30 p.m. CDT Sunday.
With Auburn and Tennessee both losing games Saturday, a win by the Crimson Tide Sunday will give Bama the second seed in the SEC Tournament which begins Wednesday at Mississippi State.
Alabama had just two hits prior to its sixth inning rally. The Tide had taken a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but the Bulldogs had battled back with seven unanswered runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
The big rally in the sixth would start with a leadoff walk by Leona Lafaele. After a fly out, a pinch-hit single by Hardy and another walk loaded the bases. Alabama chipped away with five-straight RBI singles to draw within one before a bases-loaded walk to Lafaele in her second at-bat and second walk of the inning tied it up at 7-7.
After a pitching change for Georgia, some heads-up base-running by Lafaele in between first and second in the next at-bat prevented a double play and allowed the go-ahead run to score on a fielder’s choice before Dykes added another with an RBI single to right field to push the lead to 9-7.
Alabama starter Alexis Osorio (14-6) had a complete-game win with six of Georgia’s seven runs coming on a pair of home runs. Bulldogs starter Brittany Gray (11-9) took the loss, charged with eight earned runs over 5 1/3 innings innings pitched.
Eight of the nine offensive starters for Alabama reached base safely in the game, with Haylie McCleney and Chandler Dare getting a pair of hits. Alabama’s first run came home off a throwing error but the seven subsequent RBIs came from seven different hitters in the sixth inning.
Alabama took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the third. McCleney hustled out a two-out double and Dare laid down a bunt. An errant throw on the play allowed McCleney to score.
Georgia took the lead in the fifth when an RBI single by Alyssa DiCarlo tied it at 1-1 and a grand slam by Tina Iosefa pushed the Bulldogs ahead 5-1. A two-run home run by Alex Hugo in the sixth added some cushion to Georgia’s lead as they pulled ahead 7-1.