Softball rallies to take double-header

LEXINGTON, KY-The No. 15 ranked (USA Today/NFCA) University of Alabama softball team showed why its resiliency as they came from behind to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats 9-2 in the night cap of a doubleheader.

The Cats (16-17, 1-7 in the Southeastern Conference) scored in the third inning when Nikki Jones laid down a bunt and beat out the throw at first. However, Suzanne Olcott who was taking the throw at first lost the ball out of her glove allowing Jessica Nanz to score from second for a 1-0 UK lead.

Jackie McClain got the Tide (29-11, 12-2) back into it in the top of the fourth when she hit her seventh home run of the season, a solo shot that cleared the scoreboard in right field tying the game at 1-1.

UK answered in the bottom half of the inning when Sandi Dengler singled to right field to score Angie Dal Pozzo from third giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead.

Alabama mounted a two-out rally in the top of the fifth to finally claim the lead. Jackie Wilkins singled and took second on a walk by Capper Reed. McClain drew an intentional walk to load the bases for Ashley Courtney who responded with a two-out, two-run single to left field for a 3-2 Alabama lead.

Laird's ERA now down to 0.82.

Bama cushioned its lead in the next inning when Olcott singled and went to third on a double from Leah White. The Tide then executed a suicide squeeze with Jennifer Reach laying down a bunt and Olcott running on the play. The throw home was late and Bama had a 4-2 lead.

Alabama blew the game open in the top of the seventh inning. Reed led off with a double and took third on a wild pitch. McClain reached on an error by Jones followed by a single from Courtney to score Reed and send McClain to second. Prejean singled scoring McClain for a 6-2 Alabama lead. Emily Currie came on to pinch hit for Angela Johnson and came through with a double down the left field line scoring Courtney and Prejean. Currie went to third on the throw home. Olcott then hit a deep fly to right field allowing Currie to tag for the final 9-2 margin.

Jennifer Wright picked up the win for the Tide which marked her first career win in conference play. She went 4.1 innings giving up two runs, only one was earned, while scattering five hits.

All-American Shelley Laird came on in the fifth inning with the Tide up 3-2 and runners on second and third and one out. She intentionally walked Lyndsey Angus to load the bases then struck out the next two batters to get out of the jam. She went on to pitch two more scoreless innings for her third save of the season.

Both pitchers received more than enough offense as Alabama posted a season high 14 hits.

In Game 1, Laird shut the Cats out, scattering five hits while striking out seven batters including her 950th career strikeout in the sixth inning.

The Tide jumped on top in the top of the third inning when Jackie Wilkins led off with a triple to centerfield and came in to score on a double by Ashley Courtney. Jackie McClain then singled scoring Courtney and putting the Tide up 2-0.

Bama added to its lead in the sixth inning taking advantage of two Wildcat errors. Prejean led off with a single through the left side, however she was out when Angela Johnson hit into a double play. Olcott followed with a walk and went to second when Reed came on to pinch hit for White and was hit by a pitch. White re-entered the game and took second when Currie's grounder was mishandled by Dal Pozzo, loading the bases for Wilkins. Wilkins hit a grounder to Dal Pozzo, who let it get between her legs allowing Olcott and White to score for a 4-0 Bama lead.

Bama added one more insurance run in the top of the seventh again with two-outs. Prejean hit a two-out single to center and was pinch-run for by Deasy Phillips, who promptly stole second. Johnson followed with a single that scored Phillips for the 5-0 lead.

Laird's win improved her record to 16-6 on the season. She has amassed an unbelievable 7-0 record with three saves along with a 0.82 ERA in the Tide's last ten SEC games.

The two teams will play the final game of the series on Sunday with the first pitch scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET. Live stats will be available at www.rolltide.com.


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