Alabama Softball Gets Two Wins

DELAND, Fla. -- A disappointing start to the season that dropped Alabama from pre-season number two in the nation in college softball to number eight was alleviated to some extent on opening day of the Hatter Invitational Friday. The Crimson Tide won both its games.

In the opening game, Alabama defeated Rhode Island, 17-3, with Bama scoring more runs in the game than the Tide had in three previous games total. In the second game, Bama came from behind to defeat No. 14 Ohio State 5-3, giving Alabama pitching ace Kelsi Dunne her first win of the year. All-America Charlotte Morgan had her first home run of the young season against the Buckeyes.

With the two wins, Alabama improved its record to 3-2.

The Tide wasted no time getting into the scoring action early in the top of the first inning against Rhode Island, which was playing its first game of the year. Jennifer Fenton, who walked and stole second, scored on a hit by Charlotte Morgan, which was mishandled by the short stop. Alex Blewitt had the big hit of the inning with a two run home run over the right center field wall.

The runs kept coming for Alabama in the top of the second, scoring six more. Olivia Gibson, who was making her first start of the season, led the inning off with a home run over the center field wall. The Tide batted around in the second and Gibson came through one again with an RBI double to center field. The big inning stretched Alabama's lead out to 9-1.

The Crimson Tide were clearly not satisfied with a 10-3 lead going into the top of the fourth, as Alabama would score six more in the inning. Kayla Braud provided a big double to left center, which scored Keima Davis and Jazlyn Lunceford.. Blewitt once again came through with her second two run home run of the game, this time over the right center field wall. The second six run inning gave the Tide a commanding 16-3 lead.

Alabama would score one more run in the top of the fifth, when Braud hit in her freshman roommate Jackey Branham with a sacrifice fly.

Blewitt's two home runs give her three on the season. She hit only one home run in her previous three seasons combined.

Erika Szymanski was tagged with the loss for Rhode Island. Szymanski gave up 10 runs, nine earned, on 11 hits allowing two walks and only striking out one in three innings of work.

Amanda Locke picked up her first win of the season while giving up four hits and striking out two. Three runs were scored on Locke, but none of the three were earned.

Alabama sophomore Jazlyn Lunceford has grown accustomed to bases loaded situations and once again she didn't disappoint. In the second game of the day, Lunceford hit a bases clearing double to hand the Crimson Tide a 5-3 win over No. 14 Ohio State.

Down 3-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Crimson Tide mounted a two-out comeback, capped off by the clutch hitting by Lunceford. Whitney Larsen started the rally by drawing a walk and then Alex Blewitt found a hole on the left side.

Courtney Conley then pinch-hit and drew another walk, chasing Buckeye starter Lindsay Bodeker. Lunceford took care of the rest with a sharp line drive over the shortstop that found its way to the left-centerfield wall.

The lead change wasn't the first of the game though as Alabama trailed 1-0 early in the second. All-America Charlotte Morgan propelled Alabama into the lead with her first home run of the season, a shot off the scoreboard in left-centerfield. Cassie Reilly-Boccia started the fourth with a double to right-center.

The Buckeyes bounced back by plating two runs in the fifth. Sam Marder led OSU with a home run while Whitney Cooper added two hits, including a home run.

Blewitt paced Alabama with two hits while Morgan drove in two and Lunceford had the three RBIs.

Kelsi Dunne earned her first win of the season by going the distance, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out nine.

The two teams will square off once again as they kickoff day two of the Hatter Invitational. The two teams will open the day at 10 a.m. CST at Patricia Wilson Field.

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