W. Alabama rallies by No. 1 UAH
Tigers score four in seventh, five in eighth vs. nation’s No. 1
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – West Alabama found itself trailing 5-1 in the seventh inning, but scored a thrilling come-from-behind victory against No. 1 Alabama-Huntsville (43-5-1) with nine unanswered runs to take a 10-5 eight-inning triumph.
Down four runs in the seventh, the Tigers rattled off four scores to draw even at 5-5. The Chargers opened the door for West Alabama by committing a pair of costly errors in the frame that led the comeback
After Angela Smith reached base on one of the UAH miscues in the inning, Anna Shartzer doubled down the left field line to put the first of the Red and White's four runs in scoring position. Taylor Beck then followed with a base hit to center to score Smith. Shartzer then scored on a Valisha Fincher double to left center and the Tigers pulled within 5-3.
Allison Lockhart, who pinch ran for Beck, scored on a 6-3 putout and put the Red and White down to its last out. Caitlyn Bonham kept the inning and game going as she reached on the second Charger error that allowed Fincher to score to knot the game at 5.
The Red and White proceeded to sit the Chargers down in order in the seventh to force the extra session. West Alabama then exploded in the eighth frame with five runs to capture its first lead of the contest as Jessica Powell and Rebecca Schick drove in all five runs.
Powell laced a three-run double down the left field line to score Fincher, Shartzer and Smith. Schick then followed with a two-run homer to center field to cap the five-run frame.
The comeback by West Alabama was the first for any UAH opponent in the seventh inning or later this season. The Chargers entered the day a perfect 22-0 when leading after six innings.
Hannah Griffin (4-3) logged the victory in the circle with a relief appearance. Griffin scattered three hits in three innings with a run scored. Tiger starter Kristen Skinner tossed five innings with four runs allowed on six hits with three strikeouts and four walks.
West Alabama was able to do what no other team has been able to do so far this season in handing senior closer Alex Lewis (7-1) her first loss of the season. The Tigers scored six earned runs against Lewis, who entered the game in the fifth inning. Whitney Toler tossed four innings in the start for the Chargers with four hits allowed and a run surrendered.
Both teams threatened early in the contest but it would not be until the fourth inning for the scoring to start as Alabama-Huntsville put up three runs on the board. A leadoff walk by left fielder Mary Kelley got things started for the Chargers and shortstop Kathryn Whitlock followed up the free pass with a two-run blast into the trees in left field. A pair of singles and a walk then led to the third run of the inning as center fielder Kelli Long reached on an infield single that allowed Megan Billingsley to come across the dish.
West Alabama countered in the fifth inning with what would turn out to be a crucial run thanks to a leadoff walk and a double to left center by Fincher. The Chargers quickly erased the tally though in the bottom of the frame with a two-out rally. Whitlock got things going by drawing a free pass from Skinner. A single to right by Kellie Johnson and a walk by Abby MacKay loaded the bases for designated player Emily Roach. Skinner then beaned Roach to make it a 4-1 Charger lead but got out of the bases-loaded jam as Alabama-Huntsville left three of its 11 runners left on base on the day.
Alabama-Huntsville added its final run of the afternoon in the sixth but a bang-bang crucial play would prove to be costly in the stanza. After Long led off the inning with a bunt single to third base, the Chargers' speedster took off for second base going for her 38th consecutive stolen base, but the ball arrived just as she reached the base in her pop-up slide and was called out for the first time in 2011. The Tigers then made back-to-back errors on consecutive plays to allow Billingsley to reach and then score all the way from second when West Alabama neglected to cover home plate on an overthrow of first base.