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

Softball avoids sweep against Tennessee with victory on Sunday

CW/ Jennifer Stroud

It has been over a decade since the last time Alabama was swept in an SEC series, in 2013. After dropping games 1 and 2 at home to No. 3 Tennessee, it looked as if that streak would end. But Alabama battled back Sunday afternoon and eventually came away with a 1-0 victory to avoid the sweep.  

“We just do not allow that to happen. Especially at home,” head coach Patrick Murphy said “One of the key characteristics is grit. You have got to have it.” 

Alabama showed plenty of grit in Game 3, and it all started in the circle with graduate student Kayla Beaver. Beaver’s starts recently in the final games of series hadn’t gone her way; Tennessee had handed her seventh loss of the season just two days before. But none of that fazed Beaver.  

“Just trusting my abilities. We knew coming into this that we had to give it everything we got,” Beaver said. “[Coach] Lance [McMahon] told us before the game to empty the tank, and we did exactly that.”  

In her final regular-season home game, Beaver punctuated the ending with her seventh complete-game shutout of the season. Tennessee mustered just two hits, both from center fielder Kiki Milloy, and the Lady Volunteers did not have a runner reach third base.  

“You got to give the game ball to Beaver,” Murphy said. “Beaver was terrific. To beat somebody like that in the third game after they saw her Friday night is Montana Foutsish.” 

Dating back to last Sunday’s loss to Arkansas, Alabama’s offense had gone 27 straight innings without a run. Through four innings on Sunday, it looked like the Crimson Tide could be on its way to a fourth straight shutout. That was until the fifth inning, when shortstop Kenleigh Cahalan got the ball rolling.  

Cahalan laced a 3-1 pitch down the right-field line for a triple. Cahalan’s triple set in motion Tennessee’s plan to bring sophomore pitcher Karlyn Pickens in from the bullpen. Stepping up next for the Crimson Tide was center fielder Kristen White, who had broken up Pickens no-hitter the day before. That success played perfectly into White’s mindset. 

“A lot of confidence, I was oozing confidence when they brought her [Pickens] in,” White said. “I was like, you know, I got the job done yesterday, and today I’m going to do the same thing.”  

White got the job done by chopping a grounder to shortstop and legging out a single to score Cahalan. 

“In the middle of that at-bat, all I did was ask God for peace and calmness that I’ve never had before,” White said when asked about her mindset in the box. “There was not a doubt in my mind that I could get it done for my team.” 

One run was all Beaver needed as the Crimson Tide stole Game 3 by a score of 1-0.  

In Game 1 on Friday night, the Lady Vols wasted no time hopping on the Tide as third baseman McKenna Gibson’s sacrifice fly put the first run on the board.  

Beaver limited the damage to just one in the first but allowed two more runs in the fifth. Milloy and Gibson each singled in a run to make it 3-0.  

A two-run home run in the seventh off the bat of designated player Zaida Puni gave Tennessee a 5-0 lead that stood pat for the final score.  

Alabama’s offense put pressure on the Tennesse defense as the Tide had runners on base five of the seven innings. Senior Tennessee pitcher Payton Gottshall pitched out of pressure multiple innings, holding Alabama to 0 for 10 with runners on and 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position.  

Freshman Jocelyn Briski followed up her Co-SEC Freshman of the Week performance last week against Arkansas with a seven-inning two-run outing in Game 2 against the Lady Vols. Only one run was earned as one runner scored off an error before left fielder Rylie West cracked her 10th home run of the season in the fourth.  

For the third straight game the Alabama offense was shut out. Pickens took over for Tennessee with her overpowering fastball and devastating changeup.  

Pickens had a no-hitter until White laid down a bunt single in the sixth to end Alabama’s hitting drought. The Crimson Tide couldn’t build off that momentum and ultimately fell in the second game 2-0.  

Alabama will look to build off its win Sunday when it heads to Auburn next weekend for its final SEC series of the season. The Crimson Tide will need to win all three games to avoid the program’s first-ever losing record in SEC play.  

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