No-hitter by freshman leads No. 1 Alabama
Things got a little tight for the No. 1 Alabama softball team but an offensive explosion in the late innings moved the Tide past Connecticut in game two of the 2008 Adidas Golden Panther Invitational at Miami, Fla., on Friday afternoon.
The Huskies, who had not played a game this season, scored a run in the bottom of the second and held the lead until the fifth. But the UA lineup shrugged off its early struggles and scored nine unanswered runs to move to 12-0 on the season.
"I was proud of the way our team hung in here today in the second game," Bama Coach Patrick Murphy said. "We couldn't get it going early offensively, but we stayed with it and didn't press too much and eventually we were able to put some things together to get the win."
Alabama won its first game of the day over Illinois, 6-0, behind a no-hitter thrown by true freshman Kelsi Dunne. In game two, it was another pair of freshmen who helped the Tide put together its late scoring rally.
In the top of the fifth, Catherine Dozier and Whitney Larsen both drew walks to set up Alabama's first scoring opportunity of the game. Brittany Rogers singled and Dozier scored on a walk to the next hitter, Jordan Praytor, who picked up her fourth RBI of the day on the play. Larsen scored on a single by Dani Woods and the Tide led 3-2 heading into the sixth.
"I was really happy with our freshmen today," Murphy said. "Obviously, for Kelsi to throw a no-hitter as a freshman is something special and for Larsen and Dozier to have the good at-bats they did in the second game I think says a lot for their maturity this early in their careers."
Alabama put together a five-run inning to open the game up in the sixth, highlighted by some heroics from All-American Lauren Parker. Parker, who has been sidelined recently with a variety of injuries in the early part of the season, came off the bench for her first at-bat in four games and promptly hit a two-run rocket over center field to give the Tide a 7-1 edge.
It was Parker's fourth homer of the season, a team high, and the first pinch-hit home run by a Tide player since Jessica Smith hit one against Seton Hall a season ago.
"Lauren continues to amaze me," Murphy said. "She just steps up there and takes great swings no matter what the situation is. She hasn't been playing all that much lately and she steps in there and crushes one. Lauren is a special player and I'm proud of the way she has been able to do for us."
Rogers had two more hits and scored two more runs against UConn, finishing the day with four hits, four runs scored and two stolen bases. Woods had two hits against the Huskies and Kellie Eubanks added an RBI double to the cause.
The offense was enough for the pitching duo of Charlotte Morgan and Chrissy Owens. Morgan got the win, her third of the season, after going 4 2/3 innings of three-hit ball with a strikeout and two walks. Owens, playing in her hometown of Miami, got the third save of her season with 2 1/3 innings of one-hit relief work.
Alabama returns for two games on Saturday at the University Park Complex at Florida International University. The Tide plays Illinois for the second time beginning at 12:30 p.m. (CT) and faces hosting FIU at approximately 3 p.m. (CT).
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