Alabama advances to regional final with narrow win against Western Kentucky
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In a back-and-forth affair, Alabama held off Western Kentucky 7-6 on Saturday in the second round of Tuscaloosa Regionals at Rhoads Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 44-13 on the season and advances to the regional championship Sunday.
A sixth-inning sac fly off the bat of junior Molly Fichtner that scored freshman Andrea Hawkins proved to be the difference as the Tide held on in the top of the seventh to down the Lady Toppers (42-17).
Alabama sophomore Leslie Jury (18-7) earned the win in relief, her second of the tournament, after allowing just one hit and striking out three in two innings of work.
Senior Kayla Braud batted 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. The fleet-footed outfielder now has five hits in the tournament. Hawkins followed with a 2-for-2 effort, adding a run and an RBI.
Braud ignited the scoring in the first inning as she chopped a single in front of the plate to record a hit in 22 consecutive games. She then stole second and third before scoring the first run of the game on a throw that sailed to the outfield on a Haylie McCleney steal attempt. Sophomore Jadyn Spencer drove in McCleney on a base hit up the middle to finish the frame with a pair of runs.
Western Kentucky tied the score at two when Katrina Metoyer hit a two-run home run over the wall in left in the top of the second inning. The homer was her eighth of the season.
An inning later, with two outs and a full count, Metoyer hit a bases-clearing triple to give the Lady Toppers a 5-2 lead.
Alabama answered by putting up four runs in the bottom half of the third inning to take a 6-5 lead.
Senior Courtney Conley started the scoring by drawing a bases-loaded walk that plated pinch-runner Jordan Patterson. Sophomore Danae Hays then hit a sac fly to left to score junior Kaila Hunt before Hawkins lined a single to right that scored Spencer. Braud completed the scoring in the frame with a sac fly to center that plated Conley.
Western Kentucky evened the score at six in the sixth inning on a two-out chopper that snuck through up the middle off the bat of Preslie Cruce.