With pitching ace Montana Fouts still on the shelf, the Tide had to lean on the rest of the pitching staff this past week. Unfortunately, it was the bats that let them down by the end of the week.
Alabama 17 UAB 1 (5 innings)
Alabama made quick work of Birmingham U scoring five runs in each of the first three innings in a game shortened by the Mercy Rule. Bailey Hemphill (18 HR) and Claire Jenkins (10 HR) have a little Maris-Mantle competition going here with both of them again going yard. Hemphill was 3-for-3 with 2 dingers, 4 runs scored, and 5 RBI. Every starter had at least one hit. Krystal Goodman (W, 6-0) pitched three shutout innings with Madison Preston closing out the last two.
Alabama 9 South Carolina 1
Claire Jenkins continued her chase with her 11th and 12th round trippers and 3 RBIs. The Tide scored two in the first, followed by donuts for the next four innings. They added two more in the sixth but really broke it open in the seventh with 5 runs including Jenkins’s second bomb on the night. Elissa Brown was back in the leadoff spot for the first time since early in the season and went 2-for-4 with her 28th and 29th stolen bases of the season. That allowed Kaylee Tow to move back to the 3-spot where she had two hits and 2 RBI. Newly-minted No. 1 pitcher Sarah Cornell (W, 15-0) was solid, shutting out the Gamecocks until yielding a solo home run in the seventh inning.
South Carolina 5 Alabama 1
Knowing that Fouts would not be pitching this weekend and that Alabama would use Cornell in Game 1, SC made the strategic move to start their ace in Game 2. Dixie Raley (W, 9-2) tamed the Tide for seven innings giving up only five hits - one of which was a Hemphill solo homer. Courtney Gettins (L, 5-2) took the loss giving up 5 earned runs on 9 hits and 2 walks. Brown again led off and had one hit in three at bats.
South Carolina 2 Alabama 0
It was again Dixie Raley in the circle for the Gamecocks on Sunday, and once again she stifled the Tide for 5 innings of shutout ball. A reliever closed out the final two innings for the game and series win. Alabama had only 4 hits but also had 6 walks and left an unacceptable 11 runners on base, including leaving the bases jammed in the second. Perhaps coach Patrick Murphy panicked after Saturday’s game since he moved Brown (1-2, SB) back to ninth in the order and Tow (0-2, 2 BB) at the leadoff. Whatever the reason, it did not heal the Crimson Tide woes on offense. Cornell (L, 15-1) was the hard luck loser giving up a 2-run dinger in the first inning. An exemplary one-hit/six-strikeout relief effort of 4.2 innings by Krystal Goodman went for naught.
This team really needs Fouts back and 100% but they can’t rely on the pitching to be winning every game 1-0. It feels like the offense is just sitting back and waiting for Hemphill to hit a grand slam. There is too much inconsistency at the plate. Some of the others outside of Hemphill and Tow need to step up. Alabama has an overall record of 38-4. They are tied with Auburn for second in the conference at 8-4. LSU leads the SEC at 11-4.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Hemphill’s Saturday home run was her 19th of the season, moving her into a tie for third on the UA single-season record books. Kelly Kretschman had 25 in 1998. Kaila Hunt had 21 in 2012.
Surprise, surprise, it’s Bailey Hemphill. 5-for-10 at the dish with 6 runs, 6 RBI, 5 walks.
Kaylee Tow was next going 4-for-10 with 4 runs, 3 RBI, 5 walks.
Claire Jenkins had the three home runs but disappeared on Saturday and Sunday, leaving 5 runners on base in the finale and 8 for the SC series.
It doesn’t get any easier from here on out. After a onesie with doormat GSU (5-33), Alabama faces their biggest challenge of the season so far against the #12/18 Bulldogs (30-11). All of the UA-UGA games will be on regular TV.
Apr 10 (Wed) 6pm CT vs Georgia State SEC Network+
Apr 13 (Sat) 11am CT vs Georgia ESPN2
Apr 14 (Sun) 6pm CT vs Georgia SEC Network
Apr 15 (Mon) 6pm CT vs Georgia SEC Network
After this series comes a weekend series against Bama nemesis Florida in Gainesville. There is no mid-week game that week.
*** For you folks in Cullman area, get tickets for the April 23 match-up with Belmont before they all get snapped up!
General Admission tickets for the University of Alabama/Belmont University softball game for April 23 are on sale at the Heritage Park tower for $10 each!— Cullman Parks, Recreation, & Sports Tourism (@CullmanParksRec) March 23, 2019
Tickets must be purchased in person; no phone or online orders. A max of ten tickets per person will be sold. pic.twitter.com/qTSAzzEZuV