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 sweeps Rebels for first SEC series win of softball season 

CW/ Riley Brown

Alabama softball put an exclamation mark on its first SEC series win of the season by sweeping the Ole Miss Rebels and outscoring them 14-2 over the weekend.  

“This is kind of our first landmark for sure,” Alabama designated player Kendal Clark said. “We’ve been building up this whole entire year, but this is our stacking stone where we can just build from here.” 

Zooming straight ahead to Game 3, where the Crimson Tide completed the sweep, Alabama failed to score in the first inning, but the second inning was different. Clark walked up to the plate for her first at-bat with runners on second and third. Looking to put her stamp on the game, Clark unleashed on the first pitch and blasted it off the scoreboard for a three-run homer.  

“It’s a great feeling just running around third base seeing the crowd with everyone yelling,” Clark said. “It’s just awesome to be in that environment.”  

Crimson Tide graduate pitcher Kayla Beaver, coming off her fifth shutout of the season in Game 1, made it through more than four innings allowing no runs before passing the ball to sophomore Alea Johnson.  

Johnson inherited a jam with runners at first and third with two outs, but this didn’t faze the sophomore. She used her devastating changeup to get the Ole Miss hitter out in front and pop the ball up to catcher Riley Valentine to end the inning.  

Johnson finished the final two innings allowing just one run as Alabama sealed the sweep with a 5-1 win. 

Alabama’s staff allowed just two runs in the three games as Beaver had a solo shutout, combined with Johnson for a second shutout, and freshman Jocelyn Briski threw a complete game permitting just one run.  

“Every game I go out there I’m just trying to keep my team in the game. Let us score runs so that we can get the win, because winning is the most important thing,” Briski said. “It just makes pitching so much less stressful and so much easier knowing that I can throw my pitches where I want to and if they hit then my defense is going to make all the plays for me.”  

The Crimson Tide pitchers were elite with runners on base holding the Rebels to just 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position.  

“When you can hold somebody to two runs in three games that says a lot about your pitching and defense,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “So kudos to [pitching coach] Lance [McMahon] and all the pitchers.”  

All season, Murphy has been preaching to his offense about making adjustments, and no game encapsulated that area of growth more than Game 1.  

Ole Miss pitcher Aynslie Furbush allowed just one run and two hits through the first four innings. Her mix of changeups and drop balls gave the Alabama hitters fits. That is, until the fifth inning.  

Sophomore first baseman Abby Duchscherer, who has struggled with slow pitching, waited on that changeup and cracked a single to left.  

“We say she is off the schneid now because she needed that big time. And that started the rally,” Murphy said. “I’m sure that meant a lot to her confidence too.”  

Following Duchscherer’s single, left fielder Lauren Johnson was hit by a pitch, center fielder Kristen White beat out an infield single, and just like that the bases were loaded with two outs. Leading just 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth, Alabama knew this was its chance to blow the game open.  

Shortstop Kenleigh Cahalan stepped to the plate. After getting ahead in the count 2-1, Cahalan knew she was going to get a good pitch to hit.  

“I always look for the first pitch strike, that’s my goal every time,” Cahalan said. “But I just told myself to relax, calm down. I knew the changeup was coming, knew the drop ball was coming, and Murphy gave me the take sign, so I just had to relax and just hit it.”  

And hit it she did as Cahalan walloped a three-run back-breaking double to right center that blew open Game 1. The Crimson Tide waltzed to a 4-0 victory to jump ahead in the series. 

“Good, really good, about time,” Murphy said when asked how good it felt to get ahead in the series. “Any win in the SEC is a big win, and we need to keep getting better and better as the series goes along.”  

Alabama did keep getting better and rode the wave of momentum right into Game 2 as the Crimson Tide wasted no time jumping on the Rebels. In the first inning, White and Cahalan teamed up with back-to-back singles before Jenna Johnson walked to load the bases with no outs.  

Second basemen Kali Heivilin pushed the first run across with an RBI single to right, and Duchscherer’s ground ball to first led to an errant throw. Just like that it was 3-0 Alabama.  

“It was huge, you know, bases loaded, no outs. We got the single,” Murphy said. “Then we basically put the ball in play twice. A little squibbler, that was a weird play to score two runs. But the way it’s been going we needed something like that. We’ve been hitting balls right at people all year long, and you know, maybe the tide is turning in our direction.”  

The Crimson Tide kept its foot on the gas, adding another in the second as third baseman Bailey Dowling fought off some tough pitches before poking a single to right to score Johnson.
“Bailey Dowling had a great at-bat against her [Ole Miss pitcher Brianna Lopez],” Murphy said. “She [Dowling] basically played pepper with a pitch and scored Jenna Johnson from second base with two outs.”  

Ole Miss scratched across one run in the fourth, but that was all as the Crimson Tide clinched its first SEC series win of the season Saturday by defeating the Rebels 5-1. Alabama is now 14-0 when scoring in the first inning and 24-2 when scoring first. 

“It’s huge. I don’t care who it is against,” Murphy said of that first SEC series win. “I don’t give a rip who it is, a series win is big.”  

Alabama will head to Birmingham on Tuesday for a midweek clash with the Samford Bulldogs before looking for back-to-back SEC series victories against Texas A&M next weekend.  

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