A series that many observers thought would be the most competitive of the season turned into a one-sided affair as the Crimson Tide thumped the Gators on their home field by a collective score of 12-2.
FRIDAY - GAME 1
Alabama 3 Florida 1
In Game 1, the Gators were taking no chances sending their senior All-American and 2018 SEC Pitcher of the Year Kelly Barnhill to the circle to go up against Alabama’s freshman Montana Fouts (W, 13-1). Barnhill has been bestowed many honors and holds several UF records. None of this seem to phase the tough-as-nails Fouts who bared down and threw a 122-pitch complete game that yielded 2 hits, one earned run and five whiffs. Florida struck first with a first inning walk and a double but no other Gator would go beyond second base. The Crimson Tide scored two in the third on two walks and two singles, and an insurance run in the fifth on a Skylar Wallace triple and a subsequent error.
FRIDAY - GAME 2
Alabama 6 Florida 1
The big reason Alabama is rolling right now is the emergence of a second ace in Sarah Cornell (W, 18-1) who matched Fouts with an identical one run, 2 hit complete game with nine strikeouts. Her one mistake was a solo home run surrendered in the third. The Bama bats were hot tallying up 12 hits including a triple by KB Sides and dingers by Wallace (solo) and (guess who?) Bailey Hemphill (2 RBI). Maddie Morgan was 2 of 3 with 2 RBI and a walk.
Alabama 3 Florida 0
This Tide team is all about aggressive base-running. Their mantra is run until you prove you can get me out. This strategy has resulted in many forced errors by opponents and many extra bases (and runs) gained by Alabama. A perfect example was Reagan Dykes walking in the second inning, advancing to third on a sac bunt that was booted by UF and then stealing home while the defense is standing around looking at each other. With one out in the fourth inning, an easy inning-ending double play ball turned into a force out when Maddie Morgan booked down the first base line to beat the throw. The next batter, KB Sides, sent the second pitch she saw over the right field wall for a 3-0 lead. In the circle, it was Krystal Goodman’s (W, 9-0) turn to earn her keep. She pitched 4 innings of shutout ball with 5 Ks before giving way to Fouts who slammed the door on the blue and orange. Florida went back to Barnhill to start the game and paid the price with her second loss in as many days. Things got contentious as frustrated and classless Florida hothead coach Tim Walton got tossed from the game for his little temper tantrum. It was not enough to inspire his team to a comeback victory.
Alabama showed their dominance with pitching holding the No. 6 team in the nation to two runs in three games. Reigning SEC Player of the Year Amanda Lorenz had one RBI for the series. This sweep for the Tide is huge for their confidence heading down the back stretch of the season. If you are not paying attention yet, you need to start tuning in.
STATS OF THE WEEK
- The Gators were swept at home for the first time in 8 years - when Fouts was 10 years old. It was Bama’s first sweep at Florida in 18 years.
- Hemphill now has 20 round trippers and an NCAA-leading 64 RBI.
- Stolen bases: Bama 6, UF 0.
- Montana Fouts! One earned run allowed over 10.0 innings pitched for her 13th win and 4th save.
- Hemphill was 4 for 8, 1 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, HR, SB, only 1 K and left no runners on base.
- Tow, Sides, and Wallace all did good work at the plate as well.
- Elissa Brown was once again Willie Mays in the outfield.
One game in Cullman vs Belmont (26-18) followed by a weekend visit from No. 24 Kentucky (26-18, 9-9). The Wildcats host a Sat-Sun-Mon series with Auburn that starts later tonight.
Apr 23 (Tue) 6pm CT vs Belmont Cullman, AL at Heritage Park (if you don’t have tickets by now, you may be out of luck.)
Apr 26 (Fri) 6:30pm CT vs Kentucky Tuscaloosa, AL SEC+
Apr 27 (Sat) 8:00pm CT vs Kentucky Tuscaloosa, AL ESPN
Apr 28 (Sun) 2pm CT vs Kentucky Tuscaloosa, AL SEC Network
LET’S PACK THE HOUSE!
After the UK series comes a road weekend series at No 5/6 LSU and then the SEC Tournament in College Station, TX.
[* A big thanks to Chicago Gump @GriffinTSmith for the highlight gifs.]