It was a wild and wacky roller coaster in the second round of the Tuscaloosa Regional for the Crimson Tide and Blue Raiders. Both teams were following the Florida Gators’ strategy: if your pitching stinks, you are going to have to outscore everyone. It wasn’t a walk-off win, but there was a good deal of walking going on.
ALABAMA 12, MTSU 5
After the Tide quietly went down 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning, the second batter of the bottom of the frame, Laura Mealer (who I warned you about) delivered a ball over the centerfield wall off Alex Salter for an early 1-0 MTSU lead.
B1 | Big bomb! @Laura_Mealer5 hits her 11th home run of the season!— MT Softball (@MT_Softball) May 20, 2023
Tune into ESPN+
MTSU 1 - Bama 0#BlueRaiders | ⚡️⬆️ pic.twitter.com/9yAbci6zVc
In the second, it was more of the same: Bama bats went down in order and MTSU hit another solo homer.
B2 | Blevins blasts another one!— MT Softball (@MT_Softball) May 20, 2023
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MTSU 2 - Bama 0#BlueRaiders | ⚡️⬆️ pic.twitter.com/m49y0k9UMG
Poor Kristen White was taking a beating off the centerfield wall.
The Blue Raiders generously gave back two runs on some Keystone Kops fielding with two errors on the same play in the third. With the door cracked open ajar, the Dowling kicked it open with a two-run double to make it 4-2 Bama.
Alabama takes the lead!@DowlingBailey— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) May 20, 2023
ESPN+ | https://t.co/vCLnN5SRMe#Team27 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/vJYOu2nFZP
But the pitching inconsistency reared its ugly head again as Salter loaded up the bases and then allowed a run in the third. Jaala Torrence relieved her and promptly walked the first batter she faced to tie it up at four. The tie was broken on a ball caught in foul territory for out number two but the runner at third tagged up and scored.
Bama took the lead right back after Kali “Just Like” Heivilin crushed a two-RBI bomb to left field.
Heivilin serving them up all weekend @kheivilin03— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) May 20, 2023
ESPN+ | https://t.co/vCLnN5SRMe#Team27 #RollTide pic.twitter.com/YYPlimiq9J
Bama set the table again in the inning and again it was Dowling who collected two more RBIs with a single. Still in a giving mood, MTSU pitchers walked the next FIVE consecutive Alabama batters. A wild pitch plated the eighth run of the inning for the Tide as they took a commanding 12-5 lead. For the inning, Alabama scored eight runs on three hits and a whopping seven walks.
Just to make things weirder, Bama goes down in order in the fifth inning on just seven pitches. In the sixth, it was another 1-2-3 but this time on eight pitches. The seventh was another unblemished inning for Middle Tennessee but on nine pitches. Does Patrick Murphy have a dentist appointment or something? Had they gotten one more run, it would have shortened the game (via run rule) and saved Torrence’s arm/fatigue. Alabama had no base runners in five of the seven innings. If not for the MTSU meltdowns, this might have been a different result.
Torrence came up big in relief but she has now thrown 11.2 innings and 171 pitches over the two games. I don’t know if the junior has ever pitched three days in a row as a collegian.
- TORRENCE: 4.2 INNINGS IN RELIEF, WIN, 0 RUNS, 1 HIT, 2 BB, 4 K
- DOWLING: 2-4, 2B, 4 RBI, 1 RUN
- HEIVILIN: 2-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 RUNS, BB
SCORES & SCHEDULE
- GAME 1: MTSU 8, Central Arkansas 0
- GAME 2: Alabama 5, LIU 0
- GAME 3: Alabama 12, MTSU 5
- GAME 4: Central Arkansas 15, LIU 0 (LIU goes home)
- GAME 5: MTSU 3, Central Arkansas 0 (UCA goes home)
- GAME 6: Sunday, May 21, Alabama vs MTSU - 1 p.m.
- GAME 7: Sunday, May 21, Alabama vs MTSU - 3:30 p.m. (if necessary)
With the W, the Crimson Tide gets to sit around and watch the other three teams fight it out to see who plays Bama on Sunday. Game 7 will only be played if the Tide loses Game 6.
For now, the games will be on ESPN+. But weather delays across the nation and national interest could move things around. Roy Philpott and Aleshia Ocasio will return on the call.
OTHER SATURDAY SCORES OF NOTE
Clemson 7 Auburn 0 - SPANKING!
LSU 4 UL-Laf 0
Georgia 8 Virginia Tech 3
Northwestern 10 Kentucky 8
Florida State 5 Center Florida 1
Cal 7 Missouri 5 (Mizz eliminated)
Ole Miss 9 Baylor 2
Liberty 2 UCLA 1 (Bruins eliminated)
OTHER SUNDAY MATCHUPS
(All times CT)
FSU vs. South Carolina 10am
Clemson vs. Auburn 11am
Duke vs. Charlotte 11am
Georgia vs. Virginia Tech 11am
Oklahoma vs. Cal 1pm
LSU vs. UL-Laffy 1pm
Indiana vs. Louisville 1pm
Arkansas vs. Oregon 1pm
Texas vs. Texas A&M 1pm
Ole Miss vs. Utah 1pm
Stanford vs. Florida 3pm
Northwestern vs. Miami (OH) 3pm
Oklahoma St. vs. Nebraska 3pm
McNeese vs. Washington 3pm
Indy-Ville winner vs. Tennessee 3:30pm
Liberty vs. San Diego St. 5pm
Who should start the next game for Alabama?
Torrence is on a roll.
Give Salter another shot. Torrence has thrown a lot of pitches the last two days.
That other girl. You know the one. Position player from Michigan?
Wheel Montana out there on a hand cart.