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Alabama Softball Sweeps the Weekend

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Crimson Tide take two games each from the LSU Tigers and Liberty Flames.

Kaylee Tow was hitting everything.
@AlabamaSB

The Crimson Tide got their first real tests of the season in a feisty Liberty team and 8th-ranked LSU. It is almost a shame they could not play another game because the Tide bats are on FIRE. Kaylee Tow had more hits than The Beatles. If she is not SEC Player of the Week, they should just disband the conference.

GAME 1: ALABAMA 6 LIBERTY 3

After coaxing a 1-2-3 inning out of the Flames in the first, the Crimson Tide offense was raring to go plating four in their half of the inning. KB Sides led off with a single and stole second. The next two Tide batters made outs but were picked up by consecutive RBI singles by Bailey Dowling and Kaylee Tow. After a walk, Jenna Johnson knocked in Tow. A fourth run would come on a Liberty fielding error.

In the third, Alabama gave up their first run of the season on a home run off starter Sarah Cornell to a freshman batting out of the eighth position. Bama bats fell silent as the Flames garnered a rally loading the bases with no outs in the fourth. Lexi Kilfoyl entered the game and had a bizarre moment on the circle in which the ball simply popped out of her hand dribbling towards third, which allowed a runner to score. After the first Flames batter made an out, another runner crossed the plate when catcher Bailey Hemphill was charged with a passed ball on what looked to be a missed bunt squeeze play. Kilfoyl buckled down and got the next two outs and was lights out the rest of the way, confounding batters with some devastating pitches that struck out four and denied any base runners over the final four innings.

Bama would score two insurance runs in the 4th for a 6-3 victory.

On a bad note, Alabama was caught stealing three times out of four including speedster Elissa Brown. To their credit, the throws were pretty dang good. This setback is not going deter the aggressiveness of the Tide on basepaths. It is part of their DNA.

GAME 2: ALABAMA 8 LIBERTY 1

Well, Holy Cow! Maddie Morgan finally got a start after sitting on the pine the first five games. She responded with a single and a double, and was robbed of what would have been a game-ending grand slam in the sixth. Claire Jenkins moved over to shortstop and Dowling to second. Alexis Mack started in left and Abby Doerr gave Hemphill a break behind the plate. This new look lineup put up a crooked number in the first inning plating six runs on five hits and three walks. Tow had a 2 RBI single followed by a Jenkins 3-run dinger on her Senior Day. Tow hit her second bomb of the year in the fifth to push the advantage to 7-1

Montana Fouts dominated in the circle once again. She struck out every opposing batter at least once for a total of 13 set down on strikes. Due to a runner reaching because of a dropped third strike, she took down four batters via the strikeout in the fifth inning. A long fourth inning RBI double was her only real mistake on the day. Krystal Goodman made her first appearance of 2021 recording a 1-2-3 seventh.

(Earlier on Saturday, Liberty fell to LSU 4-3 on a walk-off double.)

GAME 3: ALABAMA 5 LSU 2

Murphy went back to his regular lineup for this game inserting Savannah Woodard at second base, while rotating Jenkins and Dowling one position over. Morgan was rewarded for her Game 2 performance with a start as the Designated Player (DP). The move paid dividends as both Jenkins and Dowling had some dazzling plays in the field. Additionally, Morgan pushed a run across on a sixth inning single.

Dowling had an RBI double while the other runs came on the Tide stringing together singles and challenging the gloves and arms of the Tigers. LSU committed four errors that produced three unearned runs but they also had some big plays from the outfielders. The final score could have been much worse if not for some amazing plays by their left fielder Ciara Briggs.

Kilfoyl was not great but she was good (110 pitches, 7.0 innings, 6 hits, 2 Ks, 1 BB) and soldiered through some tough situations for the win. One of her best achievements on the night was neutralizing Amanda Doyle who had stroked five home runs and tallied 12 RBIs through five games. After recording at least one hit, one run and one RBI in every other game this season, Doyle did not reach base against Bama in Game 3.

This one felt like a post-season game. Both sides flashed some slick defense, plus there were some close calls and key plays that kept the boisterous crowd entertained for 7 innings.

GAME 4: ALABAMA 13 LSU 5 (5 Innings)

The Tide saved the best for last in this wild one. The Tigers scored first on an error but Bama scored right back with three in their half of the first inning, punctuated by a two-run Dowling four-bagger to lead 3-1. LSU answered right back in the next half inning with a two-run home run of their own to tie it up. Back came Alabama with two more runs. The third inning passed with both teams going down in order. Then the purple and gold tied it up with another 2-run shot. And then things got really crazy.

The Tide scored four runs on four hits highlighted by Tow’s two out bases loaded hit that produced three runs. This time, LSU could not answer. Credit Murphy for sticking with Fouts when she was not at her best as she knocked down the Tigers in order finishing off with a strikeout of Doyle.

In the bottom of the fifth, it was Tow time again. With two out and the bases jammed, the senior singled to right field scoring two. With the score now 11-5, Bama had a chance to end this one early (8-run mercy rule). Dowling promptly doubled down the right field line knocking in the twelfth and thirteen run for the walk-off win. All 13 of Bama’s runs came with two outs.

Tow and Bailey had 5 RBI each on the day. Outside of the two dingers given up, Fouts pitched a decent game. She had five Ks, no walks, and allowed only four hits.

(Earlier on Sunday, LSU defeated Liberty to finish the weekend 2-2.)

* The outcomes of these “friendlies” with LSU will not count in the SEC standings. While these two are not scheudled to play again this year, it is highly likely we’ll see them meet up in the post-season a few times.

MVPs

Is there any doubt??? Kaylee Tow hit .786 over the course of the four games. She tallied 11 hits in 14 at bats with nine RBI and 7 runs scored. Two of her hits were doubles and one homer.

Elissa Bown was 6 of 10. Bailey Dowling also had some big hits. Just a freshman, y’al!

OBSERVATIONS

  • We are still waiting on Hemphill’s first home run of the season. She had only two in last year’s 22-game slate, after a bonanza 2019 in which she led the nation with 26. She is hitting .348 so far in this campaign but just like attendees at a video game convention, they are all singles. She is hitting the ball hard but not getting any loft under them.
  • As a team, Bama has only five round-trippers. Despite the lack of home runs, the bats may be heating up. Several Tide players had long and nosiy foul balls plus a few fly balls that took opposing outfielders to the wall.
  • The Crimson Tide scored in the first inning of all four games with a total of 14 first frame runs. They compiled a total of 32 runs and 43 hits. They won by an average of 8 to 2.8.
  • I liked Murphy’s move in Game 1 to bring in Kilfoyl when Cornell was struggling. It was the right time and right person to bring in. God bless Fouts but she has struggled in relief appearances.
  • Some weird habits die hard. In Game 2, Murphy sent Cornell to the plate for some reason. With one out, a runner on second and a chance to end the game early on a mercy rule, she struck out - just like she did last year in a similar situation. It’s an odd move with so many position players on the bench who need at bats. He also pinch ran her in Game 4.
  • Tow was thrown out at home against LSU in Game 3 but I am not going to complain about this aspect of MurphyBall. ♥♥♥ Run, run, and run some more. Make them stop you.
  • Dowling made some dazzling plays in the field. She is a keeper. ;-)
  • Woodard finally collected her first hit of the season and looked more confident at the plate in Game 3 after sitting the first two games of the weekend. She got a single in Game 4 as well.
  • Morgan recorded hits in all three games she played.
  • KB Sides came out of Game 4 after the second inning with an apparent injury. No reports have come out as of post but she was happily Tweeting after the game (see below), so it should not be anything major.
  • A little more than 1,100 fans were allowed into Rhoads and, boy, did they have the house rocking!
  • Alabama had one camera view set-up for the streaming of the games. Whoever the operator was truly did a spectacular job of following the action.
  • Despite losing all four games this weekend, the Liberty Flames are a solid squad and have a bright future if they can hang onto coach Dot Richardson.
  • I usually don’t promote endorsements but will make an exception this time. Chick-fil-A has jumped on board as a major sponsor of Alabama softball. So, next time you go by a CfA, tell them “thank you” and “Roll Tide!”

TWEET

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

  • Wednesday, Feb. vs. UAB (4-4) 6 p.m. CT

EASTON CRIMSON CLASSIC

  • Feb 26, Friday DH vs. Memphis (0-4; DNP last weekend due to weather concerns) 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. CT
  • Feb 27, Saturday DH vs. UNC (4-1) 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. CT
  • Feb 28, Sunday vs. Troy (8-1) 1 p.m. CT

*** TV??? ***

#Team25 #RollTide