Late Night Horror Show As Bama Hammers Tigers

Tuscaloosa, Ala.--Thursday night's Auburn vs. Alabama softball game in the first round of the SEC tournament showed the passion of the rivalry as a nearly packed house waited until nearly midnight to watch the archrivals do battle into the wee hours of Friday morning.

Following four hours of rain delays, Alabama's power hitting and Auburn errors were the difference as the Tide cruised a dominating 7-1 victory. That sends Auburn, which is 39-15, into the loser's bracket of the double elimination event.

Alabama, 42-16, struck first in the third inning as redshirt freshman Ashley Courtney blasted a Kristen Keyes fastball high, deep and out over the wall in right center field. Courtney jumped all over the 0-1 pitch from Keyes and there was never any doubt about its destination from the time it left the bat.

The Tide later drove the dagger into the hearts of the Tigers in the fifth inning with a six-run outburst. Center fielder Jackie Wilkins got things started for Alabama with a single to left. Then a throwing error from first baseman Martha Phillips, who was trying to cut down Wilkins at second, allowed Courtney to reach base.

With two on and a one run lead, Jackie McClain broke the game open with a home run to right center field. The three-run shot gave the Tide a 4-0 lead, but the home team was not finished as it added three more runs in the inning to take a 7-0 cushion.

In the bottom of the inning the Tigers would break up the Tide's no-hitter and shutout bids with one swing. Shortstop Ashley Griffin hit a high shot just over the foul pole in left field to cut the lead to 7-1.

For Alabama, sophomore Stephanie VanBrakle took the mound and was strong for the Tide giving up only one run on the one hit and striking out five batters in six innings of work.

For the Tigers, Keyes was not at her best as she pitched only 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs, three of them earned, on six hits and walked three batters. However, the senior did strike out six Tide hitters, which is an SEC Tournament record for Auburn.

At the plate for the Tigers, Griffin had the only hit and the only run. Kristina McCain and Paige Jones were able to draw walks off of VanBrakle.

For Alabama, McClain led the way going 1-4, but with the three runs batted in. Courtney was also strong for the Tide going 2-3 with two runs scored and one RBI on the solo home run in the third inning. Wilkins was also 2-3 with a run scored and VanBrakle was able to help herself at the plate going 1-2 with a run scored.

The Tigers will now face a quick turn around for their second game of the tournament. They will have to face South Carolina, which lost to top seed LSU on Thursday night. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:30 p.m., less than 12 hours after the finish of their round one contest.

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