Alabama had to wait an hour and a half to get its Tuesday night softball game started against Loyola-Chicago, but once the Crimson Tide – and particularly pitcher Alexis Osorio – got going, it was as if nothing had changed. Osorio had her second consecutive one-hitter and for the second straight game struck out 18 batters in pitching a complete game shutout.
Alabama defeated previously unbeaten Loyola-Chicago (14-1), 5-0, after sitting out the rain delay. The Tide improved to 20-2 with its 13th straight win, and Osorio is now 10-1.
Alabama doesn’t have to wait long for its next challenge. Bama hosts Valparaiso at 6 p.m. today. Coach Patrick Murphy’s Tide begins Southeastern Conference play this weekend. Arkansas visits Rhoads Stadium for a series beginning Friday.
Against Loyola, Alabama scored in five of the six innings it came to bat while Loyola-Chicago was stymied by Osorio, who had her third game this season with at least 18 strikeouts. Five times in Alabama history has a pitcher had 18 or more strikeouts in a game and Osorio has three of them this season.
Six of the Tide’s nine starters got a hit, led by Peyton Grantham with a 2-2 performance. Freshman Bailey Hemphill delivered her team-leading fifth home run of the season.
For the second-straight week, Alabama softball is ranked No. 9 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and No. 11 in the USA Today/NFCA poll following last week’s games. Bama went 6-0 last week, outscoring its opponents 42-5, including a pair of no-hitters.
No new teams entered the top 10 this week in the NFCA poll while 11th-ranked Minnesota moved up to No. 7 in the USA Softball poll. The top four in the NFCA poll remain the same from last week, with Florida State at the top, while Auburn slid down one spot to No. 4 in the USA Softball poll, switching places with third-ranked Oregon who trail Florida State and Florida.
Alabama is one of 10 SEC schools ranked in this week’s top 25, the most of any conference. Ranked SEC teams include Auburn (2/4), Florida (3/1), Texas A&M (6/5), Alabama (11/9), LSU (12/12), Tennessee (14/13), Georgia (16/17), Kentucky (19/20), Ole Miss (22/22) and Missouri (24/RV). Arkansas is receiving votes outside the top 25 in the NFCA poll.