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Alabama Athletics | May 7, 2016

College softball: No. 4 Alabama rallies with eight-run sixth inning

  The Crimson Tide clinched the series win against the Bulldogs in front of a season-high crowd.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Trailing 7-1 in the sixth inning, Alabama softball gutted out an eight-run inning to make an incredible comeback against Georgia and clinch the series with a 9-7 win.

“We’ve said from the beginning of the season that we’re never out of a game,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “I think today was the proof. We found holes and had good base runners.”

The eight-run inning included seven hits over 13 plate appearances, the first of which came off the bat of pinch-hitter Caroline Hardy. The freshman now has three hits in pinch-hit situations, the most of any Tide player.

“She has been sitting on the bench and to come out with a big hit like that was huge,” Murphy said. “It got the rally started. She has accepted her role and has perfected it. Reagan [Dykes] struggled in her first two at-bats and Hardy seems to have a knack for getting on base. It was just a hunch.”

Alabama (45-10, 16-7 SEC) had just two hits prior to the big rally, as the Tide and Georgia (39-16, 11-12 SEC) battled through a low-scoring first four innings. Alabama’s early 1-0 lead was erased after Georgia scored seven unanswered runs in the fifth and six innings, but the Tide offense put together its biggest comeback of the season with the eight-run sixth to earn the gutsy 9-7 win. The victory came in front of a season-high 3,781 fans at Rhoads Stadium.

Eight of the nine offensive starters for Alabama reached base safely in the game, with Haylie McCleney and Chandler Dare earning a pair of hits batting at the top of the order. Alabama’s first run came home off a throwing error but the seven subsequent RBIs came from seven different hitters in the sixth inning. Alabama starter Alexis Osorio (14-6) gutted out a tough complete-game win in the circle, with six of Georgia’s seven runs coming on a pair of home runs. Bulldog starter Brittany Gray (11-9) took the loss, credited with eight earned runs over 5.1 innings pitched.

Alabama took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the third. McCleney hustled out a two-out double and Dare laid down a bunt to put runners at the corners, but an errant throw on the play allowed McCleney to round third and score, making it 1-0 Alabama. The score remained the same until the top of the fifth when an RBI single by Alyssa DiCarlo tied it at 1-1 and a grand slam by Tina Iosefa pushed the Bulldogs ahead 5-1. A two-run home run by Alex Hugo in the sixth added some cushion to Georgia’s lead as they pulled ahead 7-1.

The big rally in the sixth would start with an unassuming leadoff walk by Leona Lafaele. After a fly out, a pinch-hit single by Hardy and another walk loaded the bases with one out in the inning. Alabama chipped away at the deficit with five-straight RBI singles to draw within one before a bases-loaded walk to Lafaele tied it up at 7-7 after one go-around through the order.

After a pitching change for Georgia, some heads-up baserunning by Lafaele in between first and second in the next at-bat prevented a double play and allowed the go-ahead run to score on a fielder’s choice before Dykes added another with an RBI single to right field to push the lead to 9-7. A fly out ended the rally and Osorio shut the door with a 1-2-3 seventh inning to give Alabama the win and clinch the weekend series.

The series finale is set for a 1:30 p.m. CT start on Sunday, May 8 at Rhoads Stadium.


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