Alabama had the perfect start to its 2017 softball season. Really. It was very, very good when the Crimson Tide opened the Kickin’ Chicken Classic in Coway, S.C., with a17-0 win over Towson. But it got better as Bama junior pitcher Alexis Osorio threw the fourth perfect game in program history with a school-record 19 strikeouts in a 6-0 shutout over Coastal Carolina.
Alabama (2-0) scored a combined 23 runs against Towson (1-1) and Coastal Carolina (0-1), posting its highest ever opening-game run total against the Tigers. But Osorio overshadowed offensive performance with her perfect game and striking out all but two of the batters she faced.
Offensively, Peyton Grantham led the way for the Tide with a 4-6 day, driving in eight runs with a pair of doubles and a home run. Demi Turner went 4-7 with a team-leading five runs scored with Merris Schroder and Elissa Brown close behind with three hits each. All 15 hitters on the Tide roster got at least one at-bat Friday. All three of Alabama’s pitchers also saw action on Friday, with Sydney Littlejohn throwing four shutout innings in the opener while Madi Moore threw an inning of relief.
Alabama continues play at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic Saturday with a pair of games, facing Towson (1-1) at 9 a.m. CST and Youngstown State (0-1) at 11:30 a.m. CST.
Here are the highlights of Friday’s wins:
ALABAMA 17, TOWSON 0 (5 INNINGS)
Alabama’s offense was on full display in its season opener, scoring 17 runs in a five-inning shutout over Towson. The 17 runs are the most scored by the Tide in a season opener and its five home runs are the most in a game since April 15, 2012 vs. South Carolina.
Eight of Alabama’s nine starting batters reached base safely in the game, including 3-3 days from Brown in her collegiate opener and Turner. The pair batted first and second in the order. Grantham delivered six of the team’s 17 RBIs on a third-inning three-run homer and a fourth-inning three-run double. Fellow freshman Bailey Hemphill had an ausp;icious debut, smashing a three-run home run on her first collegeat-bat in the first inning.
In the circle, Littlejohn (1-0) earned the win with four shutout innings with just three hits allowed against eight strikeouts. Moore came in relief and pitched a 1-2-3 top of the fifth to secure the run-rule victory.
In the bottom of the first inning with two on base, Hemphill smacked a three-run home run to left field to give the Tide an early 3-0 lead. Junior Peyton Grantham doubled Alabama’s lead in the bottom of the third with a three-run home run to make it 6-0.
An RBI single by Chandler Dare in the bottom of the fourth opened the floodgates for the Tide offense, ultimately scoring 11 runs in the half-inning. A three-run double by Grantham made it 10-0 and then Marisa Runyon followed with a two-run home run to right field to make it 12-0. Another home run by Sydney Booker in the inning made it 14-0 and yet another long ball by Turner finished the scoring at 17-0.
ALABAMA 6, COASTAL CAROLINA 0
Osorio was, well, perfect in Friday’s second game at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic.
Her 19 strikeouts broke the previous school record of 18 shared by Shelley Laird and Stephanie VanBrakle. All but two of the defensive outs in the game came via strikeout, including a streak of 12-straight to start the game. It is her 13th career game with double-digit strikeouts.
Offensively, Grantham had another strong day at the plate going 2-3 with two RBIs. Hemphill slugged her second home run of the day, a three-run shot in the third.
Brown led off the game with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then came home on a sacrifice fly by Grantham to give the Tide an early 1-0 lead. With two on and one out in the top of the third, Grantham drove in her second run of the game with a long RBI single off the wall in left to make it 2-0. Hemphill tacked on three more runs with her second home run, a liner down the left-field line on the first pitch of her at-bat to make it 5-0 in the top of the third.
Following a leadoff double by Grantham in the top of the fifth, Rachel Bobo, pinch running for Grantham following her double, advanced to third on a wild pitch and came home on a sacrifice fly by Runyon to make it 6-0.
The score stayed the same for the remainder of the game, as Osorio struck out seven of the next nine batters to secure the perfect game and the school strikeout record.