Tide Softball Sweeps Auburn

The number two-ranked Alabama softball team defeated in-state rival Auburn 10-0 (5) and 3-2 Friday night in front of a school record crowd of 1,958 at the Alabama Softball Complex.

"Tonight was incredible," said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy. I wish I could thank every individual who came to watch us play. They are really a lift for the team and the coaches. We have the best fans in the country with the support they give us for them to come out here with the cold weather conditions and it being a holiday weekend. They are loyal fans."

The Crimson Tide recorded five-run innings in both the third and fourth to run away with a 10-0 victory in the first game of the doubleheader.

With one out in the third inning, Jordan Praytor and Lauren Parker each drew walks to set up Charlotte Morgan in the cleanup spot. Morgan came through with a line drive double to the wall in center field. Both runs came around to score to put the Tide in front 2-0. Following a RBI single by Dani Woods, Kellie Eubanks hit a two-run home run to opposite field to make it 5-0 in favor of the Tide. It was the fifth home run of the season for Eubanks.

In the fourth inning, Brittany Rogers led off with her third infield single of the game. After moving to second on a ground out, Rogers stole third base to move in to a tie with Ashley Courtney for second all-time in stolen bases at Alabama with 71. Rogers, a sophomore from Dacula, Ga., is 62 shy of the record held by Kelly Kretschman.

Rogers scored on a ground out by Parker. Back-to-back singles by Morgan and Mandy Burford put runners on second and third with two outs. Woods came through with a two-out single through the right side. Two batters later Ashley Holcombe singled up the middle to drive in two more runs with two outs and make the score 10-0.

"I feel more comfortable at the plate," said Woods. "It was a roller coaster ride in the beginning of the season with changing over to a new position. Now I have settled in and it helps hitting behind certain people and in a certain sequence because you become more comfortable."

Chrissy Owens closed out the game in the fifth for a complete game shutout. She only allowed three hits and a walk for her ninth shutout of the season. She struck out seven batters in the game to improve to 18-2 on the year.

"We get pumped up for every SEC game," said Owens. "It is good to have so many fans here because that pumps us up as well. It was amazing to see so many people come out Easter weekend when it was really cold out at night. To have all of these kids here was great."

Three Alabama players tallied multi-hit games. Rogers was a perfect 3-for-3 in the leadoff spot with a run scored. Morgan went 2-for-3 with a double, run scored and two RBI. Woods was 2-for-2 with a run scored and three RBI. Eubanks and Holcombe each added two RBI in the contest and Burford became the 14th player at Alabama to score 100 career runs.

The second game ended up being a little bit closer but still featured some offense late in the contest.

Blair Potter drew the starting nod on the mound and was flawless through the first three innings. She did not allow a hit and struck out five of the first 10 batters she faced during that time. Her offense also gave her a three-run lead to work with.

The first run came in the second inning when Woods continued her success with runners on base and lined a double to right field to score Burford. The Tide added two more in the third inning as Parker and Morgan had back-to-back singles with two outs. Morgan received the RBI and later scored on an error.

Auburn scored for the first time in the series in the fourth inning. A single and a walk set up Myesha Finney for a two-run double to left field, cutting the lead to 3-2.

The Tide doubled the lead in the fifth inning on a solo home run to center field by Morgan. It was her eighth long ball of the season. The freshman has hit home runs in six of the seven SEC series.

"I am seeing the ball a lot better," said Morgan. "I am comfortable at the plate and just try to come through with hits to score the runners on base. I know that every run counts in the SEC because no lead is safe with the teams in this conference."

The Tigers came back with another run in the top of the sixth. Tatiana Fernandez started the inning with a triple to right field. Following the triple, Owens came in to pitch for Potter and got the next batter to ground out. Sara Ghezzi was able to bring in Fernandez on a single through the left side to make it 4-3, but Owens retired the next two batters, including a strike out to end the frame.

Holcombe gave Owens some cushion with a towering solo shot just inside the left field foul pole for a 5-3 advantage. The home run was the fourth of the season for Holcombe, passing the three she hit as a freshman last year.

Owens took advantage and came out firing in the seventh, getting the first two hitters to strike out swinging. She then got Ashley Arcuri to line one to center field and Rogers made a running catch to end the game.

The win was credited to Potter who improved to 10-0 on the season and remains undefeated in her Alabama career at 15-0. She pitched five innings with three runs on four hits, a walk and seven strikeouts. Owens picked up her 15th career save to move just one behind Shelley Laird for the school record. She struck out three in two innings of work.

Anna Thompson was the losing pitcher in the second game. She fell to 10-11 after allowing four runs on five hits and four walks in six innings. She recorded nine strikeouts in the contest.

Morgan led the Tide at the plate. She was 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI. Holcombe had two walks to go with her solo home run.

Alabama improves to 39-4 on the season and 14-4 in SEC play. Auburn falls to 18-24 overall and 6-12 in league games.

The two teams will close out the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Alabama Softball Complex.


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