Tonight’s Mission: Looking for an offensive spark and third pitcher
Idle observations from Wednesday evening’s softball game against Southern Miss. I say idle because I’ve learned to save worry and angst for SEC games or opponents such as Washington, who coincidentally comes to T-town Friday night. But I hoped this would be the night Alabama’s bats came to life against a team that is 24-22 overall and 7-11 in Conference USA play. I was wrong.
Sophomore Madi Moore (4-1) got the mid-week start. She hasn’t had much opportunity this season, and needed to get back on track confidence-wise after giving up the game-winning hit to Tennessee Friday in relief. Alabama will need a third option at pitcher in the post-season.
Coach Patrick Murphy also chose a safe non-conference game to try out a new line-up, hoping to spur the bats. Here’s a rundown of Alabama’s at-bats.
Power Outage: Offensive woes continue
In the bottom of the first: Centerfielder Alyssa Brown opens with a ground out, 1st baseman Bailey Hemphill walks, 3rd baseman Peyton Grantham singles, runners on 1st and 2nd, with only one away. Catcher Reagan Dykes flies out. Runners stay put. DP Caroline Hardy grounds out. Side retired: 2 runners left on base.
In the Tide’s second at bat: RF Chandler Dare grounds out on the first pitch, SS Sydney Booker pops up to first on a 1-1 count, 2nd baseman Claire Jenkins grounds out to third on a first pitch. The side is retired on only five pitches by USM’s Kim Crowson.
In the bottom half of the third: LF Merris Schroder hits a single that was the result of what looked like an error. (This is what Murphy wanted when he moved Schroder to the nine slot—someone who could be on base when the line-up turns over.) On schedule Brown sacrifices Schroder to second. Hemphill singles and goes to second the throw. Shroder advances to third. Grantham walks. Bases are loaded with only one away. Dykes hits a fly out to deep left scoring Schroder. Tide leads 1-0! Grantham is on second, Hemphill third. Hardy walks. Bases loaded with 2 outs. Dare grounds out. The Tide scores 1, but leaves the bases loaded. 5 runners stranded against USM.
Bottom of the fourth starts promisingly: Sydney Booker singles to left field and then steals second. Jenkins singles and advances to second, Booker scoots to third. Schroder strikes out. Back to the top of the order. Alyssa Brown walks. Bases are loaded for power hitter Bailey Hemphill, just like Murphy wrote the script. Hemphill hits a line drive but right at the third baseman who makes the catch—and doubles up Jenkins. No runs, seven runners now left on base.
That the Eagles haven’t scored is due to a sterling performance on the mound by Moore—and good defense. Although Alabama isn’t great at getting double plays.
In the fifth inning: Grantham lines out to third. Dykes walks. Hardy flies out. Dykes steals second. Dare singles and Dykes scores. Dare gets to 2nd. Booker pops up. Alabama takes a 2-0 lead. But through five Bama has managed only 6 hits against a mediocre opponent. 8 runners have been left on.
In the sixth Bama still leading 2-0: USM has a pitching change, Jenkins pops up. Schroder walks. Gabby Calloway comes in to pinch hit and pops up. Schroder steals second. Hemphill pops up. Still 6 hits and 2 runs. 9 runners left on.
With one out in the top of the sixth Murphy pulls Madi Moore, perhaps to make sure she ends her night on a high note. The lefty pitched a solid game giving up only 3 hits, 2 walks, and had four strike outs. Sydney Littlejohn closed things out.
The Good: Alabama got its 23rd shut out of the year (its record is 29,) and picks up its 37th win against 9 losses. Madi Moore earns her fifth win. Again strong pitching is the story of another victory for the Tide. 23 shutouts tells you the pitching has been extremely strong.
The Bad: Same ole story. Lots of pop ups, lots of ground outs in the infield. Alabama hit only two fly balls to the outfield. All night. Not good. The singles consisted of grounders. Line drives went directly to the gloves of Golden Eagle infielders. So ‘Bama continues looking for answers.
Of note: Demi Turner is still not back after suffering a facial injury in the Arkansas series. We miss her.
Up next: The Washington Huskies (31-10) of the Pac-12 come to the Rhoads House for what is sure to be an exciting doubleheader. First game is Friday night at 7 central on SECN +. RTR
Ed. Note: Just wanted to let you know that we love what Cyndee has been doing for gym and softball. I spoke with her yesterday, and we’ve all agreed to keep her and to expand her role with Roll ‘Bama Roll, including picking up some football assignments in the Fall. It has been exceptionally difficult to find consistent gym/softball coverage, which has been one of my priorities since taking over, much less finding someone with a reporter’s eye (which she was in a past life) with a natural flair for analysis. Anyone can tell you the box score sucked; she tells you why the suck happened. And I, for one, could not be happier
Welcome Cyndee aboard, and Roll Tide — E