DII Softball: North Alabama sweeps Alabama-Huntsville to advance to Super Regional
FLORENCE – Facing elimination on the final day of the NCAA Division II South 1 Regional, North Alabama stunned UAH by identical 7-0 scores to advance. Raven Cole and Hillary Carpenter each tossed complete-game shutouts while the UNA bats came alive for 14 runs off 20 hits on the day.
The two wins give the third-ranked Lions a 53-6 record on the year and puts the team in the South Region Super Regional for the first time in program history. UNA will host Rollins on Wednesday, May 11. Game formats and times have not yet been set.
In the opener, Cole worked seven shutout innings, allowing four hits with two walks and two strikeouts. With the win, the junior from Orange, Texas improved to 25-2 on the season.
UAH didn't get a runner past second base until the bottom of the fifth. After getting consecutive walks, the Chargers used a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third with two outs. Cole, however, retired the final batter to get out of the jam.
After a one-out single in the sixth, Reagan Tittle ended the UAH scoring threat by turning an unassisted double-play at shortstop. The Chargers went down in order in the seventh inning to preserve the win for UNA.
North Alabama scored twice in the top of the second inning to take the early lead. After a lead-off double by Brooklynn Clark, Harlie Barkley tripled to right center to drive home the first run. She then scored on an RBI-ground out byAnna Gayle Norris to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
Clark led off the fourth inning with another double. She later scored on an RBI-single by Norris. Peyton DeLong made the score 4-0 by leading off the fifth inning with a solo home run to left field. It was the second homer of the tournament for the senior from Beauregard.
A three-run sixth inning put the game out of reach for UNA. Norris singled home a run before a ground out by DeLong scored another runner from third base. Courtney Shields wrapped up the scoring by drawing a bases-loaded walk.
The Lions finished the game with nine hits off three different UAH pitchers. Clark was 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles. Norris was 2-for-4 with three RBI.
It was Carpenter's turn to shine from the circle in the second game. The junior from Hatton surrendered just three hits while striking out four in the complete-game victory. She improved to 26-3 to set a new school record for victories in a season.
After two scoreless innings, UNA plated runs in every frame the rest of the way. A sacrifice fly by Shields scored Bailey Nelson from third to give the Lions a 1-0 lead.
After two-run double by Madeline Lee made the score 3-0 in the top of the fourth inning, UNA added single runs in the fifth and sixth frames to extend its lead. The Lions got an RBI-single by Reagan Tittle before Carmen Whitfieldlaid down a bunt to squeeze home the other run. RBI-doubles by Clark and Norris in the seventh inning finished the scoring.
Clark led the way with a 3-for-4 showing, finishing the day 6-for-7 at the plate. The senior from Seadrift, Texas upped her season batting average to .497 on the year. Nelson and Shields added two hits each in the second game.
North Alabama's assault on the record books continued on Saturday. Nelson's two runs scored in the final game gave her 66 on the year to tie a single-season record. As a team, the Lions also hit six doubles on the day to run its season total to 113 and break another school record. The team also now has 583 hits to break another single-season mark. Barkley also played in her 219th career game for the Lions to tie Jessica Liddy and Lindsey Bates for the most ever in a career.