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McCleney Saves Crimson Tide From Sweep Against No. 2 Florida

Alabama dropped the first two games of the series, but easily won game three thanks to Junior All-American Haylie McCleney.

Alabama star Haylie McCleney drives in insurance runs on a bases clearing triple in Alabama's win over the Florida Gators Monday night.
Alabama star Haylie McCleney drives in insurance runs on a bases clearing triple in Alabama's win over the Florida Gators Monday night.
Vasha Hunt (vhunt@al.com)

The fifth-ranked Crimson Tide (21-6, 5-2 SEC) were unable to earn a huge series win over the No. 2 Florida Gators (29-2, 2-2 SEC) this weekend. Florida's pitching staff stifled Alabama's offense in the first two games, allowing only one run. A well-timed lineup change from Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy gave the Tide offense the spark it needed to create runs in game three.

Game One: Florida-1, Alabama-0

Alexis Osorio took the mound for Alabama and dominated the entire game. Osorio allowed only six hits, one unearned run and tallied seven strikeouts. The Gators' lone run came on a sixth-inning fielding error. With two outs in the top of the sixth and runners on first and second, Florida hit a routine base hit up the middle. Center fielder Haylie McCleney mishandled the ball, allowing the runner to score from second. Osorio struck out the next batter to limit the damage to only one run. That lone run was enough for Florida ace Lauren Haeger as she limited Alabama to no runs on only four hits.

Game Two: Florida-4, Alabama-1

Heavy rain in Tuscaloosa forced the game to be halted in the top of the fifth with a runner on third for the Gators. Alabama had gained a 1-0 lead courtesy of Danielle Richard. Richard stole third in the bottom of the second inning and scored on a throwing error by the Florida catcher. In the fifth, Florida lead off the inning with a double. A wild pitch from Alabama starter Leslie Jury advanced the runner to third. The game was halted at this crucial moment.

Florida scored the runner from third on a sac fly to open play on Monday. Jury then gave up a single, double, and walk to load the bases. Alabama turned to Osorio to get out of the jam. Osorio plunked the first batter she faced, and the Gators took the lead. A passed ball and sacrifice fly pushed Florida's lead to 4-1. Alabama could not muster any offense, and the Gators clinched the series.

Game Three: Alabama-5, Florida-1

Patrick Murphy moved McCleney from first to third in the batting order in a crucial lineup change that relieved the Crimson Tide's anemic offense. That simple move paid dividends for Alabama.

Florida took a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning on a passed ball and a wild pitch. After that, Osorio bore down in her second start and third appearance of the series. Osorio pitched a complete game with seven strikeouts, one run and four hits.

After another slow start, Alabama's best player and team leader McCleney took over in the bottom of the fifth. McCleney pulled her first home run of the season over the wall in right-center to give the Crimson Tide a 2-1 lead. McCleney capitalized on another opportunity with runners in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth. After Kallie Case pushed Alabama's lead to 3-1 after a wild pitch, McCleney hit a two-run triple to the left-field gap. Alabama won the game 5-1 behind McCleney's monster day. McCleney went 3-4 with a home run, a triple and four RBI.

Next Up

Alabama hosts the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Wednesday, March 25 at 2 p.m CT. The Tide continue their homestand Friday, March 27 in the series opener versus Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are available online here or at the gate prior to the game.