Tide Softball Is Nation's Only Undefeated

The No. 3 University of Alabama softball team downed Mississippi State 8-0 in six innings on Sunday to complete the series sweep of the Bulldogs and improve to 24-0 on the season.

Alabama is now the only undefeated NCAA Division I softball team in the nation, and could ascend to a number one ranking this week.

The Crimson Tide got out of a jam in the first inning as Mississippi State started the game with a pair of singles by Chelsea Bramlett and Nakita Boyce. Bramlett stole second after her leadoff single and attempted to score on Boyce's single down the left field line but was gunned out at home by Alabama left fielder Jordan Praytor. Two batters later Chrissy Owens threw a high pitch that escaped to the backstop but Katie Johnson, making just her third start behind the plate, hustled to the ball and threw it back to Owens, who tagged Boyce for the third out of the inning.

"When we throw two runners out at the plate in the first inning I had a pretty good feeling," said Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy. "It doesn't happen very often in the first inning so I thought that was a good omen for us that it happened."

Alabama took advantage of the good defense and put three runs on the board in the second inning. Mandy Burford led off the inning with a double to the wall in left field. After Dani Woods hit a ball to the deepest part of the park for an out, Mallory Benak, who was pinch-running for Burford, went to third base. Following a walk by Kellie Eubanks, Charlotte Morgan stepped to the plate and drilled a three-run home run to straightaway center. It was Morgan's second home run of the season.

"I have been struggling with runners in scoring position," said Morgan. "I went in there and was looking for the inside pitch because they had been throwing me outside. She threw it right over the plate and it was right there. It felt good to get things rolling."

In the fourth inning, the Tide added four more runs. This time Woods started things off with a single to center field. Eubanks was hit-by-a-pitch to put runners on first and second and both runner moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt by Morgan. Johnson loaded the bases with a bunt single and Alex Blewitt came in to pinch hit for Kelley Montalvo.

Blewitt, making just her second plate appearance of her career, came through with her first collegiate hit, a single up the middle to drive in two runs and put the Tide in front 5-0. Brittany Rogers then reached on an error and Praytor found her way on with a fielder's choice to set up Lauren Parker for a two-out single to center field, driving in two more runs to make it 7-0 Alabama.

"It was amazing and I was just thankful I was given the opportunity," said Blewitt. "We weren't up by that many, we had the bases loaded and Coach Murphy called on me. I was ready for that opportunity whenever he called on me and I was just happy to come through for the team."

An error led to the final run in the sixth inning as UA ended the game by the eight-run rule. Back-to-back one-out singles by Rogers and Praytor got things started and then a throwing error by Courtney Bures brought Rogers in for the game-ending run.

Chrissy Owens only allowed two hits after the first inning to complete her sixth shutout of the season. She retired the last eight batters she faced in the game. Overall she scattered four hits in the game with two walks and four strikeouts in six innings, improving to 12-0.

Kelli Miller pitched only 1 1/3 innings and allowed three runs on three hits to receive the loss. She dropped to 6-5 on the year as the Bulldogs fell to 15-11 overall.

Alabama was led at the plate by Morgan who finished 2-for-2 with a run scored and three RBI. Johnson also finished with two hits on the day in three at bats. Rogers and Praytor each added a hit to extend their hitting streaks to eight games each. Rogers scored two runs and Parker was 2-for-4 with two RBI.

"I thought both freshmen were great today," said Murphy. "Charlotte had the big swing to give us the lead and Blewitt came up with the bases loaded and had two strikes on her but got just enough of it to send it up the middle for two RBI. I am very proud of both of them."

The Crimson Tide will continue its SEC season with a pair of road series this upcoming week. They play a doubleheader against Florida in Gainesville on Wednesday beginning at 5 p.m. From there they head to Columbia, S.C. to face South Carolina for a weekend three-game set.

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