Like most college students, the Crimson Tide softball team spent their Spring Break at the beach. But this was a business trip. Alabama traveled about 4,300 miles west to participate in the Rainbow Wahine Classic and came out the other side with an unscathed record of 31-0.
Alabama 6 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville 4
Perhaps the Crimson Tide had a little jet lag. Or maybe they did not take SIUE as serious as they should have. Whatever it was, Bama got a scare but hung on for the win. Alabama took an early 1-0 lead but the Cougars scored 3 runs off Sarah Cornell (W, 10-0) in the fourth inning on two walks and three singles. As has been the pattern very often this season, the Tide struck back in the next half inning with three runs of their own. Merris Schroder’s 2-run homer in the following inning put Bama up 6-3. Montana Fouts pitched the last three innings for her second save but surrendered a run in the seventh. Claire Jenkins had a 2-RBI double and a solo home run - her fourth round-tripper in four straight games.
** This game was just the second time this season the Tide trailed after four innings.
Alabama 9 Niagara 3
The Crimson Tide broke this one open early, putting up a seven-spot on the scoreboard in the second inning highlighted by Bailey Hemphill’s grand slam and Schroder stealing home. Kaylee Tow hit a solo home run to round out the scoring. Bama’s number five pitcher, Madison Preston, got the start and ran into some trouble in the third, yielding three runs. Krystal Goodman relieved her and mowed down the Purple Eagles (I am not making that mascot up), allowing only 1 hit over the final 3.2 innings for her fifth win.
Alabama 8 SIUE 3
Bama jumped out to a 2-0 advantage only to see the Cougars tie it up in the fourth. Once again, the Tide immediately responded to the runs yielded with runs of their in the next half inning to take 4-2 lead. They would score four in the seventh including a 2-run dinger from Reagan Dykes to put this one away. Schroder went 2-4 with 2 RBI. Courtney Gettins (W, 3-0) went five innings with Fouts closing the final two for her third save.
** This win gave Alabama a program-best start to a season of 28 straight wins. It surpasses the 26-0 start of the 2012 season and the 27-0 record set in 2001.
Alabama 12 Niagara 2 (5 innings)
The parking lot had some broken windshields after the home run derby on this day. Tow, Dykes, and Caroline Hardy all went deep as the Tide run-ruled Niagara 12-2. Tow’s homer was a second inning grand slam that busted the game wide open. Every starter had at least one hit. Gettins got her fourth victory with Preston pitching a perfect fifth and final inning with 2 Ks.
Alabama 9 Hawaii 0 (5 innings)
Another run-rule win for the Tide behind some stellar pitching and another barrage of round-trippers. As you can see in the picture above, Maddie Morgan, Tow, Hemphill, and Schroeder all went yard in the early going as Alabama cruised to win No. 30. Fouts was dominant, pitching 5 shutout innings with 7 Ks for her eleventh win.
Alabama 6 Hawaii 2
Alabama got an assist from the Rainbow Warriors in the finale as four of the Tide’s six runs were unearned. Hawaii was tagged with three crucial errors, all of which led to runs scored for the away team. Yet none of them could have been possible if not for the speed of the crimson and white and the aggressive base running strategy that coach Patrick Murphy employs. Dykes was 2-4 at the plate raising her season batting average to .346. Cornell (W, 11-0) went the distance with seven strikeouts and yielding only four hits. She did make one mistake on the night, giving up a two-run homer in the sixth with a five run lead.
There were so many good performances that it is hard to choose just one. The Tide hit 11 home runs over the six games and scored 50 runs, which comes to an average of 8.3 runs per game. My MVP goes to Bailey Hemphill - 2 HR, 2B, 2 R, 10 RBI, .368 avg over the six games. Most impressive stat for her was 0 strikeouts in 19 at bats. The key to softball (and baseball) is having productive at bats, whether that means hitting a grand slam or grounding out that moves a runner up a base. Hemphill does that as well as anyone.
- Kaylee Tow - 3 HR, 2B, 9 R, 9 RBI .286 avg over six games.
- Claire Jenkins - HR, 2B, 2 SB, 5 R, 4 RBI, .400 avg over six games.
- Maddie Morgan - SB, 5 R, 6 RBI, .429 avg over six games.
- Merris Schroder - 2 HR, 2B, 2 SB, 6 R, 6 RBI, .444 avg over six games.
- Reagan Dykes - 2 HR, 4 R, 6 RBI, .500 avg over five games.
- Montana Fouts - Win, 2 saves
- Sarah Cornell - 2 Wins
- Courtney Gettins - 2 Wins
Exhibition season is over. It is time to start conference play. Alabama heads to College Station for a three game series against unranked Texas A&M. The Aggies are 16-10 after losing two of three to #10 LSU and two to #20 Auburn with a third game to be played Sunday.
Mar 22 (Fri) at TAMU 6pm CT
Mar 23 (Sat) at TAMU 2pm CT
Mar 24 (Sun) at TAMU 1pm CT
After this series is a one-off with Georgia Tech, three with Miss State, and one with UAB before facing #16 South Carolina on the road. How long can this streak go on?
All games should be aired online. Check SEC Network+ later in the week for online airings in your area. All games can be heard on Radio: 93.3 FM.