Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Crimson Tide pitchers lead squad to 3 wins in Crimson Classic

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama softball player Kenleigh Cahalan (31) throws to first against Arizona at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Friday, Mar 1, 2024.

From a cold Thursday and Friday night to a 70-degree Saturday, the weather fluctuated, but Alabama softball’s pitching staff remained consistent. The pitchers allowed just three runs in four games over the 3-1 weekend. 

Alabama started the weekend Thursday night by picking up its seventh all-time win against Northern Iowa. There was one story in this game, and it was the Crimson Tide’s senior pitcher Kayla Beaver with a complete game shutout.  

“Just very determined, gritty, resilient. She pitched her butt off,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “She made the pitches when she needed to.”  

Her offense provided her with one run in the bottom of the first, and that was all Beaver needed. She surrendered just four hits while striking out nine, but this was not the effortless dominance she displayed against Villanova in her Feb. 8 no-hitter. The Panthers found ways to put runners in scoring positions and continuously fought off tough pitches, but Beaver steered around those obstacles.  

“It makes me better because I know I have to have a lot more focus,” Beaver said when asked how she handles having a small lead. “The approach I like to take is pound the zone. I don’t like to nibble on the corners. I like to throw it at the hitters and let them hit it, and it worked out for us tonight. Defense made plays.”  

Beaver and company had to wait longer than scheduled to play Friday because weather pushed their matchup versus No. 21 Arizona to 8 p.m. Nevertheless, that did not stop Beaver from pitching another masterpiece to put her Picasso touch on her senior night.  

Facing an Arizona team that entered Friday night with the fourth-best batting average in the country, Beaver knew she had a challenge ahead of her. She rose to the occasion and delivered six innings of one-run softball. She had a season-low three strikeouts but drew 12 groundouts and allowed her defense to work.  

“We made some insane plays on defense,” Beaver said. “The energy was excellent tonight; the crowd was going crazy. So, it was all coming together really nice.” 

The offense, as on Thursday, scored its only runs in the first inning, but this time it was off the scorching hot bat of first baseman Abby Duchscherer. After left fielder Jenna Johnson walked to begin the inning, Duchscherer stepped up to the plate and sent the first pitch flying over the left field wall for her fifth home run of the season.  

“I just saw what we watched from film,” Duchscherer said. “That was the pitch I was looking for. I got off the plate and I got in my zone and just executed.”  

Arizona’s Miranda Stoddard flustered Alabama’s offense for the rest of the game with her mix of off-speed pitches. However, the Wildcats could not best Beaver, who handed the ball to sophomore Alea Johnson after six flawless innings. 

Johnson struck out two, but things did get dicey. A flyball was misplayed in right, allowing a runner to reach second. With two outs, a ground ball was hit to second. Second baseman Kali Heivilin bobbled the ball, prompting Arizona to send the runner home from second. By just a smidge, Heivilin nailed the runner at first, securing the victory.  

“Alea Johnson has ice in her veins,” Murphy said. “That was incredible to see.” 

On March 7, 2021, South Alabama pitcher Olivia Lackie dealt then-No. 2 Alabama its first loss of the season by shutting the Crimson Tide out. She returned to Rhoads Stadium on Saturday and handed the 2024 Alabama team its first loss of the season by shutting it out once again. Her stat line in both games: seven innings pitches, zero runs allowed and six strikeouts.  

Senior Jaala Torrence, pitching on her senior day, picked up her first loss even though she allowed just two runs. This was the first real jab the Crimson Tide has faced this season. The team had seen deficits but never a defeat. There was no time to grieve as Alabama played right after against the Arizona Wildcats.  

Torrence once again started in the circle and put five zeros on the board while allowing only three hits. 

“She’s a beast on the mound, she’s got confidence, she’s got swag,” catcher Marlie Giles said. “She did a great job of keeping them guessing.”  

As for Giles, she put up the only run of the day on her own with a solo shot in the fourth inning. That is Giles’ fourth home run of the season, the second most on the team, after Duchscherer.  

“Just really stuck to my plan since the beginning, and it kind of worked out for me,” Giles said. “Just got a hold of one — I just thought it was a line drive, definitely didn’t think it was out, but yeah, it went out.” 

Alea Johnson once again entered in relief for Torrence, the third straight game doing so. Her first inning was stressful as the first two runners reached base. The runners did not advance any further as she struck out one and drew two fly balls. Beaver retired the final two batters to end the weekend with a 1-0 victory over the Wildcats, a gritty way to bounce back after the team’s first loss. 

The offense had its struggles this weekend with only four runs being scored. Three of those four runs came on two home runs. But there were plenty of opportunities to score. Three separate times the bases were left loaded. Clutch hits are the name of the game, but Alabama could not find them this weekend. 

“Clutch hitting, I wish I could teach it, but there’s a lot to it,” Murphy said. “Just better pitch selection, you know, we are letting good ones go by and then swinging at ones out of the zone. I think being more aggressive early in the count on good pitches is going to solve a lot.”  

Nonetheless, Alabama came away with three victories. 

“If we can stay consistent with our starting pitching and defense, then we are going to be in a lot of games,” Murphy said. 

The Crimson Tide will begin SEC play next weekend on Saturday night as the No. 15 Florida Gators will travel to Tuscaloosa for a three-game series.  

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