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Alabama rolls 4-1 in SEC Tournament Opener

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Tide takes on Texas A&M Thursday

Tide freshman hits first ‘official’ SEC home run
Alabama’s Bailey Hemphill ‘touches’ home
SEC Network

Alabama remembered to pack the bats for the trip to Knoxville and used them to score three runs early and added another late to take a 4-1 first round win over the 12th seed Arkansas Razorbacks. The #5 seed Tide moves into the SEC quarterfinal round, where the team will face #4 Texas A&M who had a bye.

Sterling all season, the red hot Crimson Tide pitching staff held the Razorbacks to a single run off just five hits and, for the second time in as many games, Alabama scored three runs in one inning—a stat that would not merit mention most seasons.

Elissa Brown, one of two Alabama players named to the SEC all-freshman squad, led off with a hard-to-handle single to short and on the next pitch the speedy Brown stole second. Chandler Dare sacrificed, moving Brown to third. Gabby Calloway was hit by a pitch putting runners on the corners with nobody out. Bailey Hemphill, (the other all conference freshman) singled sharply to center scoring Brown. Marisa Runyon grounded out to first, but advanced the runners. Reagan Dykes singled, scoring Calloway. Then with the inning’s fourth hit Sydney Booker scored Hemphill. Bama led 3-1. It was an efficient start that prompted former Tide star turned TV analyst, Kayla Braud, to observe that it looked like ‘the old Alabama.’

With coach Patrick Murphy thinking ahead to Thursday’s tough matchup, he gave Sydney Littlejohn the start over Alexis Osorio today and she came out smoking. Littlejohn struck out five, walked none, and gave up just five hits over five innings. Her one mistake came in the fourth inning when she left a pitch hanging that Razorback batter Nicole Schroeder crushed over the left field fence to give Arkansas its only run.

The Razorbacks did get the tying run to the plate in the sixth and Murphy wasted no time, bringing in ace Alexis Osorio to close the game out. Alabama added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when Hemphill hit a towering shot to left, her first* official SEC home run. Fans will remember Bailey homered a week and a half ago against Ole Miss but had that taken off the board and the stat sheet when she jumped over home plate after rounding the bases. This time she tagged home emphatically.

Looking ahead:

Alabama will need to continue with timely hits if the team hopes to have post-season success. Consider the next opponent, Texas A&M. The Aggies have scored 309 runs on only 386 hits, compared to Alabama’s 252 runs on 402 hits.

The Tide moved up two spots in this week’s rankings to #14. It’s believed Wednesday’s win is enough to secure the team its 13th straight NCAA regional, but a win Thursday would clinch it. RTR.

Alabama-Texas A&M is the early game Thursday, first pitch at 11am CT on the SEC Network.