The stands at the Alabama Softball Complex quickly filled up and fans started to sit on the outfield hill and hills to the side of the bleachers. The largest crowd in school history passed a record the team set earlier this season when they had 1,958 on April 6 for a doubleheader against Auburn.
"The crowd was incredible," said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy. "I wish I could thank every one of them individually for their support this year."
The Tide gave the fans a show with 18 runs on 16 hits in two games. The first game ended with a walk-off two-run home run by Kelley Montalvo. Senior Blair Potter pitched a seven-inning shutout with a career-high 10 strikeouts in the second game and Brittany Rogers tied the single season stolen base record with four swipes on the day.
The Crimson Tide exploded out of the gates following the senior day festivities. The first five batters all reached base with four hits and one walk. Brittany Rogers started things off by lining a double to center field. After she stole third base, Jordan Praytor brought her in with an infield single for a RBI. With two runners on Dani Woods came up and drilled one out to center field for a three run home run, her seventh of the season. The home run was the 19th of her career, moving her into a tie for ninth all-time with Christy Kyle.
Alabama added three more in the second inning. With runners on second and third, Praytor hit a grounder to the shortstop that brought a run in. Charlotte Morgan had her second hit of the game with a double to the left field corner to drive in a pair of runs. It was her seventh double of the year and 14th multi-hit game.
In the third inning, Rogers recorded her third hit of the game with a RBI single that bounced into right field. After she stole second for her second steal of the game, Praytor hit a home run to right center to make the score 10-0 in favor of the Tide. The long ball was the fifth of the season for Praytor who now has 16 career home runs.
Kentucky came back with three runs of their own in the top of the fourth. With two on Alli Eckman singled through the right side for a RBI. With the outfielders playing at the warning track, Kentucky's leading hitter Brooke Marnitz dropped a ball in to center field for a two-run double. The two RBI gave her 60 for the season.
Needing just one run to end the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, Alabama got a leadoff double from Ashley Holcombe. Kelley Montalvo stepped up next and hit a towering fly ball over the wall in left field for a walk-off two-run home run. It was her team-leading 10th home run of the season and second walk-off this season for the Tide.
"I wasn't having very good at bats my previous times up," said Montalvo. "I was determined to get a hit in that at bat. I was praying for a base hit and it always ends up being something else. I was just happy I could come through."
Rogers finished 3-for-3 in the leadoff spot with three runs scored, one RBI and two stolen bases. Praytor recorded a RBI in all three at bats to end up 2-for-3 with a run and four RBI. The four RBI matched a career high as she has driven four on three other occasions. Morgan was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI and Montalvo finished 1-of-2 with two runs and two RBI.
Chrissy Owens improved to 23-2 on the season. She pitched five innings and allowed three runs on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts. Amber Matousek took the loss to fall to 6-8 overall.
Senior Blair Potter pitched a gem in the second game of the doubleheader. She struck out a career-high 10 batters in the game and only allowed four hits in seven innings. She tallied four strikeouts in the third inning with one reaching on a passed ball. She recorded her second shutout of the season to improve to 15-0 on the season and 20-0 in her career at Alabama.
"On senior day Blair Potter came and shined and pitched probably her best game of her career," said Murphy. "It is nice to see that when it is senior day and she brings her best."
Bama got off to a slower start offensively in the second game but a four-run third inning gave them some breathing room with a 5-0 lead.
The Tide started strong in the bottom of the first inning. Rogers reached on an infield single and stole second base. After Praytor drew a walk, Morgan fisted a single to center field to give UA the first run of the game.
The game would remain 1-0 until the third inning when the Tide put four more on the board. Montalvo gave Bama two runs with a hard hit ball that clipped the second baseman's glove and went to center field for a two RBI single. Later in the inning a double steal put Michelle Meninngmann on third and Holcombe on second. Kellie Eubanks took advantage with a double to the gap in right center to drive in two more runs and make the score 5-0.
Montalvo had a bases loaded infield single in the fourth inning to give her five RBI for the day. She finished the game 2-for-3 with three RBI and a walk. Praytor was 0-for-1 but had three walks and a run scored. Morgan ended up 1-for-2 with a walk, run scored and RBI. Rogers stole two more bases to give her 43 on the season and tie the school single season record held by Kelly Kretschman.
"After the first game I was feeling pretty confident at the plate," said Montalvo. "My last at bat I was just trying to get the runs in."
Alabama will conclude the three-game series with its final regular season game on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against Kentucky.