Decades ago, Li’l Abner cartoonist Al Capp created a bad luck character named Joe Btfsplk, who was followed by a black cloud and brought misfortune to all around him. In all probability, no one associated with the Alabama softball team ever heard of Joe Btfsplk, but they surely have taken note of the hard luck suffered by senior pitcher Sydney Littlejohn.
The bad luck struck Littlejohn and Alabama again Sunday evening in Knoxville as for the second straight game the Crimson Tide lost a game to Tennessee in the bottom of the seventh inning. On Sunday it was a two-run homer by Brooke Vines to give the Vols a 2-0 win over Bama.
Sydney Littlejohn (14-3) suffered her third loss of the season, giving up just two hits in the game until Vines’ home run in the seventh inning. In all three of Littlejohn’s losses this season, Alabama has been shutout. Littlejohn has allowed two or fewer runs in each of them.
The Tide out-hit the Vols, 4-3, but left seven runners on base
With the loss, Alabama (36-9, 10-7 SEC) suffers its second SEC series loss of the season while Tennessee (39-5, 11-3 SEC) extends its winning streak to 18 games.
The series finale is set for a 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central time) on Monday on SEC Network.
On Sunday night, Tennessee’s Meghan Gregg drew a walk to begin the bottom of the seventh and Vines ended it on one swing, sending a two-run home run to straightaway center for the only runs of the game.
Alabama came oh-so-close throughout the game, but couldn’t scratch out a run in support of Littlejohn.
Alabama had two hits in the top of the first and a would-be home run tailed just foul before a popup ended the half-inning. Another big shot by Bailey Hemphill in the top of the third fell just shy at the warning track in right field, as the score remained 0-0 heading to the bottom of the third. A one-out walk in the third gave Tennessee its first baserunner and an infield single in the next at-bat went as its first hit, putting two on base. A grounder to Marisa Runyon at third allowed her to tag the base and throw to first for an inning-ending double play to keep the score 0-0.
With two out in the top of the fifth, Elissa Brown reached on a slap single and back-to-back walks to Mari Cranek and Chandler Dare would load the bases for Alabama but a sharp line drive would be caught to end the inning as the Tide couldn’t capitalize on the scoring opportunity.
With the score still 0-0 in the top of the seventh, Sydney Booker started the inning with a bunt single and Claire Jenkins laid down another bunt to sacrifice Booker into scoring position. A ground ball went for out number two but advanced Booker to third base, however a popup back to the pitcher ended the half-inning and stranded the potential go-ahead run 60 feet away.