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Alabama Softball Sweeps Atlanta

The Crimson Tide gets off to a fast start.

Kali Heivilin (22) and Bailey Dowling (7) celebrate in ATL
@AlabamaSB

Opening a season on the road can be a tough way to start a new campaign - especially for a team that with so many new faces who is trying to figure out team roles. Alabama had a few scares this weekend, but for the most part was firmly in control of every game, thanks in large part to pitching and defense.

GAME 1: ALABAMA 3, Villanova 0 - No-No

Starting pitcher Kayla Beaver was a good as we expected. The Central Arkansas transfer threw a seven inning no-hitter and was one walk away from a perfect game. She struck out 14 Wildcats on 101 pitches. Unfortunately, this game and the two against Longwood were not streamed, thus robbing the fans of her sterling performance.

After going down in order on the first inning, consecutive hits from Bailey Dowling (single), Kendall Clark (double), and Abby Duchscherer (single) in the second put the Tide up 2-0. A fielder’s choice plated a third run. And then the doldrums set in. Alabama tallied one more hit in the third inning. From there they could not manage to get a single base runner.

GAME 2: ALABAMA 13, Longwood 0 (5 Innings) - Bama Bombs!

The Bama bats woke up in Game 2 as the Tide cranked out 11 hits, highlighted by a 3-run dinger and a 2-run double by by Kali Heivilin. Kenleigh Cahalan hit her first round-tripper of the season on a solo shot to right field. Seven different Alabama players knocked in at least one run. Ten different players scored a run or more.

JaalaTorrence (W, 1-0) got the start but was not sharp. The Lancers put two runners on base in the second and third frames when the score was still 1-0 Bama. With the luxury of six pitchers, Patrick Murphy had no qualms removing Torrence in the third with one out and ducks on the pond. Alea Johnson made her Alabama debut a successful one by getting the next two batters out. She pitched the fourth inning as well while Lauren Esman tossed a perfect fifth inning.

GAME 3: ALABAMA 3, Georgia Tech 1 - Squeaker

After a bombastic Game 2, the Alabama bats struggled again. RBI doubles by Abby Duchscherer, Heivilin, and Lauren Johnson accounted for three of the five Bama hits and all of the runs. Duchscherer’s two-bagger almost left the yard, missing by less than a foot.

Freshman sensation Jocelyn Briski (W, 1-0) started in the circle and pitched a good game but almost ran out of gas late in her college pitching debut. She allowed baserunner(s) in six of seven innings. In the final frame, she gave up a solo homer with one out and the Tide up 3-0. After the second out was made, a Yeller Jacket singled to bring the tying run to the plate. But that batter grounded out to end the game.

GAME 4: ALABAMA 7, Longwood 2 - Dutch!

Duchscherer kept a hot bat going 3 for 4 with a 2 RBI homer and a 2 RBI double. Heivilin and Bailey Dowling each knocked in a run on singles. A bases loaded walk by Cahalan plated the seventh run.

Alea Johnson got the start but lasted only 3.1 innings, allowing three singles and two runs. Briski (W, 2-0) pitched the rest of the game, scattering three singles and striking out seven and walking none.

GAME 5: ALABAMA 5, Georgia Tech 1 - Living Dangerously

Lauren Esman collected 3 RBI on a single and a double. Cahalan was 3 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.

Kayla Beaver (W, 2-0) was back in the circle. She held the Yellow Jackets hitless until a sixth inning single. However, GT managed to load the bases in the seventh with nobody out. The fourth batter of the inning sent a ball sailing to the outfield wall when Larissa Preuitt, who had entered the game as a pinch runner in the previous half inning, reached up and robbed the Jackets of a Grand Slam. She then alertly threw into second base to double off the runner there. A relay to third appeared to be the third and final out of the game. After video review, it was judged that the runner at third had successfully tagged up. Beaver would strike out the final batter for the W.

NOTES

  • In her first plate appearance of the year, Emma Broadfoot was hit by pitch with the bases loaded in a Game 2 pinch hit appearance. In an unexpected move, she started Game 4 against Longwood at catcher. She was 0-3 at the plate with a walk and a strikeout. She would be replaced by Valentine in the bottom of 6th. These would be her only appearances of the weekend. Marlie Giles caught one game (0-1, walk).
  • Valentine carried the bulk of the duties behind the plate, starting three times. She also started a game as DH. She threw out two of three base stealing attempts. The problem was at the plate. Overall, she was 1 of 9 with 4 walks, but also scored 4 runs and swiped a base of her own. She also whiffed three times.
  • The three catchers combined to go 1 for 10 with six walks, 3 Ks, and 3 runs scored. Several highly skilled catchers transferred schools this off-season. It would have been nice had Murphy gotten one of them.
  • 2B Heivilin, SS Cahalan, 3B Dowling, and LF Jenna Johnson started and played their position in all five games. Jenna is a team leader and all but she was a liability in the leadoff spot (2 for 15, .133 BA, .133 SLG%, 0 extra base hits, 1 RBI, 5 runs, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 DP). Jenna and Preuitt batted 1-2 in the first two games and combined to go 1 for 6 with a run. After those two games, Cahalan moved up to the second spot but JJ remained at lead off. It is nice to see that management made a move but they may need to make an additional one. Hopefully, new assistant coach Kayla Braud will not be as shy to point out problems to her boss.
  • Duchscherer and Esman shared duties at first base. Esman had some clutch hits with 5 RBI but her on-base percentage languishes at .331 - lowest among any Tide player who made a start.
  • KJ Haney’s first at bat in over a year resulted in an unfortunate strike out with the bases loaded in the Game 2 rout.
  • Sophomore OF Kristen White, who appeared in 60 games including 43 starts a season ago, is nursing an injury and did not make an appearance in any of the five games.
  • Pitcher Alex Salter was the only other Tide player to not make an appearance.
  • The Tide outfield play was pretty stout. ↓↓↓
  • Duchscherer had a hit in each of the five games.
  • The no-hitter was the 46th in Alabama program history and the third of Beaver’s career.
  • Kat Grill made the best of her one and only appearance, smacking a single against Longwood that plated a pair of Tide runners.
  • Valentine threw out two of three base stealing attempts in her three starts over the weekend.
  • We all know how Murphy LOVES his “greenlight girls”. Kinley Pate was brought in from Samford despite her .227 batting average with two RBIs and zero extra base hits last season. She made three appearances for the Tide, all as a pinch-runner. Pate scored a run and stole a base. Did Murph bring her in just to pinch run?

MVPs

  1. BEAVER - Two complete game wins, no-hitter, 3 hits allowed, 1 earned run, 21 K, 3 BB
  2. DUCHSCHERER - 8 for 17 (.471), HR, two 2B, 7 RBI, 1 RUN
  3. BRISKI - Two wins (one complete game, one 4.2 inning relief), 9 hits allowed, 1 earned run, 12 K, 2 BB
  4. “LOJO” JOHNSON - 6 of 9 (.667), two 2B, 2 RBI, 3 RUNS, 3-3 SB, solid defense

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

The Crimson Tide is back in Tuscaloosa for the home opener. They should be able to beef up their record and experiment on these three awful teams. Preview will come later in the week. TV and/or streaming info for all these games is ???

  • Friday, Feb. 16 vs. St. Thomas - 4 p.m. CT
  • Friday, Feb. 16 vs. Virginia - 6:30 p.m. CT
  • Saturday, Feb. 17 vs. St. Thomas - 11 a.m. CT
  • Saturday, Feb. 17 vs. Virginia - 1:30 p.m. CT
  • Sunday, Feb. 18 vs. Southern Indiana - 1 p.m. CT

Poll

After the opening weekend, how are you feeling about Team28?

  • 9%
    Excellent! Just as I expected.
    (38 votes)
  • 51%
    Better than I expected.
    (201 votes)
  • 15%
    Not impressed with beating cupcakes.
    (62 votes)
  • 23%
    Get back to me in March.
    (91 votes)
392 votes total Vote Now

#RollTide #Team28