Alabama senior pitcher Sydney Littlejohn may have known that she couldn’t make a mistake. Throughout the season, Littlejohn has pitched well, only to have the Crimson Tide softball offense failed to support her. That was the case Friday as Littlejohn made one bad pitch, Bama had few good at-bats, and Florida took a 2-0 win in Gainesville.
The NCAA Super Regional is now tied at 1-1 and the Tide and Gators will play the final game of the best-of-three series at 5 p.m. EDT (4 p.m. central time) Saturday. The winner goes to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. ESPN will televise the game.
Alabama (46-17) struggled offensively against Florida (54-8) and senior starter Delanie Gourley (21-4). The Crimson Tide managed only four hits and drew two walks, but was 0-11 with runners on base. Sydney Littlejohn (17-9) held the Gators to just five hits, but one of the five was a two-run home run by Amanda Lorenz. The home run broke the Tide’s scoreless innings streak at 31 1/3 innings, stretching back to game one of the NCAA Regional.
Littlejohn struck out four and walked three. Gourley struck out eight Bama batters.
Alabama got a runner on base in each of the first two innings but could not score as it remained 0-0 heading to the top of the third. A slow-roller down the third-base line with two out in the top of the third was Florida’s first hit of the game and Amanda Lorenz put the Gators in the run column in the next at-bat with a two-run home run to take a 2-0 lead.
Florida threatened again in the top of the fourth, putting a runner in scoring position with a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Janell Wheaton singled to shallow center and the runner tried to score from second but a great throw from Elissa Brown allowed Reagan Dykes to tag her at home.
It was one of several fine defensive plays by Alabama, including those by Demi Turner, Rachel Bobo, and Sydney Booker.
With two out in the top of the fifth, Justine McLean drew a two-out walk to turn it back to the top of the order and Lorenz followed with a single to right field to put runners at the corners. A fly ball to right would get Alabama out of the jam.
In the seventh, Bama’s last chance, Bobo reached on an error with two outs, but a groundout ended the game.