Softball takes two

MIAMI, FL-The No. 22 ranked (USA Today/NFCA) Crimson Tide softball team came back twice in its nightcap against Florida International en route to an 11-4 win as the Tide won both games in opening round action of the FIU Invitational including a 2-0 victory over Florida Atlantic earlier in the day.

FIU (2-4) got on the board early when Marleah Stapf took a 3-1 pitch from Stephanie VanBrakle and sent it over the leftfield fence for a 1-0 Golden Panther lead in the top of the first inning.

The Crimson Tide (5-2) tied the game in the bottom of the first. Ashley Courtney hit a one-out double and tagged and advanced to third on a fly out to right field by Jackie McClain. Lacy Prejean then broke the Southeastern Conference record for hit-by-pitches with her 34th career HBP giving Bama runners on the corners with two outs. FIU pitcher Kendra Laminack then delivered a wild pitch scoring Courtney from third tying the game at 1-1.

Bama took the lead in the bottom of the third. Jennifer Reach led off with a walk and Jaclyn Wilkins sacrificed her to second. Following a fly out to centerfield, McClain drove a two-out single into left field scoring Reach from second and staking the Tide to a 2-1 lead.

Alabama worked itself into some fifth inning trouble and FIU capitalized, scoring three runs on two hits, two Alabama errors and a passed ball.

It was Alabama's turn to take advantage of Golden Panther miscues in the bottom of the fifth inning. Reach took first on a bobbled ball at third and then one-out walks issued to Wilkins and Courtney loaded the bases for Alabama. McClain then singled up the middle scoring Reach but an errant throw from centerfield got away allowing Wilkins to score, tying the game at 4-4. After Prejean struck out, Staci Ramsey singled back up the middle scoring Courtney and Deasy Phillips who was running for McClain to reclaim the lead for the Tide, 6-4. FIU put runners on second and third with two outs in the top of the sixth, but Jennifer Wright, who was on in relief of VanBrakle, got Stephanie Wolter to hit a blooper to right field that was stabbed by a charging Courtney to end the inning.

Alabama blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning, sending all nine batters to the plate while erupting for five runs on six hits to take an 11-4 lead. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double from McClain and a two-run single from Ramsey.

Wright figured in the decision for Alabama, picking up the win. She came on in relief of VanBrakle and threw the final 2.1 innings shutting out the Golden Panthers while pushing her record to 2-1.

McClain finished the game 3-4 with four RBI and two runs scored while Ramsey was 2-4 with four RBI. McClain was 4-6 on the day with six RBI.

In the morning session, Florida Atlantic threatened right off the bat putting together back-to-back one-out singles in the first inning. Lady Owl catcher Callie Piper then hit a liner that was snared by shortstop Reach who threw on to first to double off the runner and end the FAU threat.

Prejean led off the bottom of the second with a single up the middle and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt from Accetturo. Prejean went to third in a wild pitch, but that was as far as she would advance as the next two Alabama batters struck out and grounded out.

Bama jumped in front in the bottom of the third. Leftfielder Angela Johnson led off with a walk and took second on a single through the right side on by Reach. Wilkins laid down a sacrifice bunt advancing both runners and McClain delivered a two-out single to score both runners for a 2-0 Crimson Tide lead.

Erin Wright and the Tide defense continually held off repeated FAU threats. The Lady Owls put two runners on in the top of the sixth but Johnson made a running catch in left field and Wright got the next batter to ground weakly back to her to get out of the inning.

Bama looked to add to its lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. McClain and Prejean drew back-to-back one-out walks, but Accetturo grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Wright picked up the win throwing a complete game shutout, while striking out eight batters. The shutout for Wright was her first since a 10-0 shutout over North Carolina on March 2, 2002.

Alabama will close out round robin play tomorrow at 11:00 when the Tide takes on No. 16 ranked Ohio State. Tournament action and live stats can be followed at www.rolltide.com.

Game Notes

  • During the 2002 season, Alabama players recorded four RBI in one game four times during the season, against FIU, Staci Ramsey and Jackie McClain both recorded four RBI.
  • Lacy Prejean's hit by pitch in the first inning against Florida International broke the SEC record for career hits-by-pitch. It was her 34th career time getting hit.
  • Pitcher Erin Wright moved into third place on the Alabama all-time strikeout list throwing her 24pth K in the third inning vs. Florida Atlantic.
  • Lacy Prejean's single in the second inning and Jackie McClain's single in the third inning vs. Florida Atlantic moved them into a tie for sixth place on the all-time Alabama hit list w/155.
  • Freshman Staci Ramsey collected her first collegiate base hit in the bottom of the fifth inning against Florida Atlantic.
  • Wright's shutout was her first since a 10-0 shutout victory over North Carolina on March 2, 2002.

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