The Crimson Tide could have easily folded their tents and went home after losing a game that looked to be in the bag on Friday. However, Alabama showed up at Rhoads on Saturday with a fire.
Coach Patrick Murphy surprised some by once again bypassing Sarah Cornell in favor of his ace Montana Fouts. The freshman was far from perfect but it seems that Murphy was content to “dance with the one what brung ya.”
Murphy also made the strategic choice of shuffling the line-up and it paid off. The biggest move was having KB Sides lead off and moving the struggling Elissa Brown to the second lead-off spot at nine.
- RF KB Sides 2-3, 4 RBI, 1 R, HR
- 1B Bailey Hemphill 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 R, HR
- DP Kaylee Tow 0-3, BB
- C Reagan Dykes 1-4
- 2B Skylar Wallace 2-3, 3 R
- LF Merris Schroder 0-3, BB
- 3B Maddie Morgan 3-3, 3 RBI, R
- SS Claire Jenkins 0-3, R, K
- CF Elissa Brown 0-2, R
Neither team scored in the first inning but Maddie Morgan got things going in the second with a double. She would later score on a single by Sides.
Texas answered with a run in the third but Alabama would score right back and then some, putting up a 5-spot in the third on a Morgan sac fly and back-to-back dingers by Sides and Bailey Hemphill.
Alabama would add another run in the fourth on a RBI single by Morgan for a 7-1 lead. But the Longhorns were not going away quietly. Texas would load the bases on a hit-by-pitch, a single, and a walk, followed by a grand slam. Hats off to Murphy for his patience because he stuck with Fouts and she rewarded the faith by killing the rally, getting the last two outs of the inning without further damage.
In the sixth, Wallace singled and was knocked in to score for the third time in the game by Morgan, making the score 8-5. Texas put two on in the seventh but could not advance past second base, as the Tide eliminated the ‘Horns 2 games to 1.
Alabama had only one strikeout on the day and no errors. Texas used three different pitchers and none of them were effective against the Crimson Tide. Fouts went the distance, throwing a ridiculous 150 pitches, striking out 4, walking 5, and giving up 5 earned runs but got the ‘W’. This might be the way Bama will have to win from here on out.
Sides had the big hit on Saturday but for my money, Morgan was the straw that stirred the drink. She got some timely hits and once again patrolled the hot corner like Brooks Robinson. But most importantly, she had her game face on from the National Anthem through the last out, encouraging and pumping up her teammates. Although only a sophomore, she is emerging as a leader on this team.
Alabama will play the top-seed behemoth Oklahoma who calmly swatted Northwestern aside. This first game of the WCWS will be a big challenge for the 8 seed but as Wisconsin proved in the Regional, the Sooners are not unbeatable.
13-seed Oklahoma State again upset ESPN darling Florida State in Tallahassee to win the series and deny the 4-seed Seminoles a chance to defend their national championship from a year ago.
LSU-Minnesota and Florida-Tennessee just got underway. The other games are later tonight.