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

Alabama splits 2-game series with Virginia Tech with 2 weekend thrillers

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama softball player Kayla Beaver (19) pitches at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on Saturday, Mar 23, 2024.

Alabama went 1-1 versus No. 12 Virginia Tech in a two-game series at Rhoads Stadium. Both games provided their share of drama as the Crimson Tide came away with a 1-0 victory Friday night and the Hokies put up five in the eighth inning on Saturday to capture their first win over the Crimson Tide 8-3.  

“It was a hell of a series between two good teams,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “It’s a rarity to get a top 15 matchup once conference play starts.”  

On Saturday, Alabama trailed 3-0 entering the bottom of the seventh after the Hokies plated a run in each of the fourth, fifth and seventh innings. Right fielder Kendal Clark led things off with a triple down the right-field line that sliced just beyond the reach of the Virginia Tech right fielder. Designated player Lauren Esman grounded a ball through the four-hole to score Clark and put Alabama on the board.  

Left fielder Jenna Johnson, starting the 200th game of her career, drew a walk on five pitches to bring up shortstop Kenleigh Cahalan. Cahalan, who had already tripled in the sixth, drove a ball to right center that snuck by the outstretched glove of the center fielder to score Esman and Johnson, tying the game at three.  

“That was probably one of my favorite innings of the year,” Murphy said.
“We hadn’t done anything, and then all of a sudden, boom, it’s tied.”  

The momentum was short-lived as Virginia Tech put its stamp on the game by plating five in the top of the eighth. Second baseman Cameron Fagan recaptured the lead for the Hokies with her two-run single up the middle. First baseman Michelle Chatfield broke things open with her two-run homer to left that gave Virginia Tech an 8-3 lead. Chatfield’s home run gave the Hokies their 67th home run of the season, which is top three in the country.  

“Well, we definitely have to focus on the good that happened,” Johnson said. “We showed that we are resilient and that we can fight.”  

Friday night’s game showed more of that fight as Alabama’s first 14 hitters failed to reach base. Third baseman Bailey Dowling broke the ice by drawing a walk in the bottom of the fifth. Kinley Pate entered as the pinch runner and swiftly stole second. Clark stepped up and delivered a game-winning RBI single.  

“Huge, huge. You know, she’s strong as can be,” Murphy said of Clark. “I think the entire dugout, once Kinley got to second, thought she was going to get a hit. And she roped it. Biggest hit of her career for sure.”  

Senior Kayla Beaver delivered another master-class performance Friday night by blanking the Hokies’ potent offense for the first time this season. The shutout marks Beaver’s eighth complete game of the season and fourth shutout. There was constant traffic on the bases as Virginia Tech put the leadoff hitter on in the second, third and fourth innings. Every inning but the seventh, the Hokies put a runner on base

“I’d rather not see it, but they seem to get on,” Murphy said. He added, of Beaver, “Then she just pitched her way out of it.”  

Beaver stymied Virginia Tech, who boasts the fifth-best team batting average in the country, with runners on base as the Hokies finished the game 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and just 2-for-12 with runners on base.  

“Whenever it’s a pressure situation like that, I like to think that it’s just me out there,” Beaver said. “I just worked with her [catcher Marlie Giles] very well, and me, her and [pitching coach] Lance [McMahon] rolled with it.”  

Alabama will have five days off before heading to Lexington to face the No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats in a three-game SEC series.  

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