Alexis Osorio laid it all on the line in Knoxville Thursday and came away with a huge post-season win for the Crimson Tide. The junior from Riverside, California struck out an SEC Tournament record 15 batters, and gave up only two hits over ten innings, to upset the 4th seeded Texas A&M Aggies. On the season, Osorio now has struck out 305 of the 603 batters she has faced.
Osorio pitched six near flawless innings, which allowed a one run Alabama lead to hold up, until the bottom of the seventh when she made her one mistake of the day. She gave A&M slugger Tori Vidales a pitch she sent out of the park over right center. The solo home run broke up Lexi’s no-hitter and tied the score 1-1.
Alabama got its first run in the top of the third off Aggie starter Trinity Harrington. Tide lead-off batter Elissa Brown singled, her second hit of the game and then stole second. Chandler Dare grounded out, Gabby Calloway popped up, leaving Brown still on second with two away. Then Marisa Runyon, who has come to life at the plate of late, singled to left field allowing Brown to score. The Tide led 1-0, but left bases loaded on a Sydney Booker strike out.
Then came the frighteningly familiar lull, Bama did not get another hit for 6 innings. But neither did TAMU, other than Vidales’ home run, and the game went to extra innings. And what was largely a pitchers’ duel continued. While Osorio soldiered on, the Aggies went first to Samantha Show, then to freshman Payton McBride. Through nine innings the score remained tied.
Then in the top of the tenth, for the second time in as many days, Bailey Hemphill hit a solo homer giving Bama a 2-1 lead. The Tide freshman took a pitch high and deep over the centerfield fence and onto the roof of the SEC Network television set. (Inside the outdoor studio former Tide player Kayla Braud surrendered her non-partisanship analyst status and was seen jumping up and down.)
Osorio gave up a second hit in the bottom of the tenth, but the Crimson Tide closed it out to take their second tournament win.
What’s the difference of late? To a large extent Alabama youngsters are maturing. Two stars of this game are freshman, Elissa Brown and Bailey Hemphill. The latter admitted after the game that she let nerves affect her play during the regular season, but said now she is just having fun. Brown got on base three times and stole second each time, in addition to chasing fly balls down in centerfield. Freshman second baseman Claire Jenkins is getting her timing down and as a result the Tide has turned three double plays in its last three games. On a sour note, Alabama stranded 13 runners.
Ole Miss. The Rebels knocked off the top-seeded Florida Gators 2-0, to make it to their first semifinal. Ole Miss took two of three from Alabama earlier this year. Revenge anyone?
Alabama-Ole Miss gets underway at 2pm CT Friday on the SEC Network.