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

‘Gritty and not pretty’: Alabama beats USC Upstate, Southeastern Louisiana to advance to the regional final

Courtesy of UA Athletics
Alabama softball player Kenleigh Cahalan tags the runner out at third against Southeastern Louisiana at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.

Despite coming up short in the SEC Tournament last week against then-No. 9 LSU, No. 14 Alabama held onto a top-16 ranking. This gave the team the opportunity to host a regional for the first round of the NCAA softball tournament. 

The Crimson Tide drew the Spartans of USC Upstate from the Big South Conference for its opening matchup in the regional round. 

Game 1: Alabama 1, USC Upstate 0

Alabama survived a 1-0 pitcher’s duel in its regional opener Friday.

Starting pitcher Jocelyn Briski got the start to begin the tournament for the Crimson Tide. Briski came into the tournament with a 7-5 record and a 2.16 ERA on the season. 

Her start Friday was no different than her starts throughout the season. She pitched 6.1 innings, allowing just one hit and two baserunners total in her shutout outing. 

“I just told myself to go out there and be confident and be fearless and attack,” Briski said.

The lone run in the game was scored in the bottom of the sixth inning. Outfielder Jenna Johnson singled and stole a base to get into scoring position. Moments later, infielder Bailey Dowling sent a pitch into left field to bring home Johnson, who scored what would prove to be a game winning run.

Pitcher Kayla Beaver secured the win in the seventh inning with a 4-6-3 double play earning the final two outs to end the game.

Friday’s victory continued a streak of opening victories on regional weekend. The Crimson Tide has now won every one of its opening regional games dating back to 2003 and has improved to 69-12 all-time in the regional round.

Game 2: Alabama 6, Southeastern Louisiana 3

Friday’s win moved Alabama into the winner’s side of the bracket of the Tuscaloosa Regional. Saturday put the Crimson Tide in a matchup against Southeastern Louisiana, which won its first ever NCAA Tournament game in a 6-2 upset against Clemson in the first round.

Much like the first game, Saturday was a battle of the pitchers.

Star pitcher Kayla Beaver made her NCAA Tournament starting debut for Alabama. Coming into the game, she boasted  a 16-8 record and a 1.77 ERA. She pitched a complete nine-inning outing, giving up just five hits and three runs while earning 10 strikeouts.

Alabama struck first in the top of the fourth inning. After catcher Marlie Giles got a two-out walk, Jenna Johnson singled to center field to bring Giles to third base. A fielding error by Southeastern Louisiana brought Giles home and put Alabama up 1-0.

Beaver retired 10 consecutive batters stretching from the second inning to the start of the bottom of the sixth inning, including six strikeouts.

Two singles in the bottom of the sixth inning finally put the Lions in scoring position, with runners on first and third base. Southeast Louisiana tied the game at 1 when the runner on third stole home. 

“Obviously the sixth inning didn’t go the way we wanted, but Kayla Beaver continued to hold them down,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said.

After the pitchers continued to battle back-and-forth into extra innings, Alabama broke the game open in the ninth.

Catcher Riley Valentine made the best of her pinch hit opportunity. With a 2-2 count, she launched a two-run homer over the wall and off the scoreboard in left field to give Alabama a 3-1 lead. It was her third home run of the season.

“Riley Valentine came up with her biggest hit so far here at Alabama, and the floodgates kind of opened after that,” Murphy said.

Shortly after, outfielder Kristen White extended the Crimson Tide lead with a center field single that brought home a runner from second base.

Alabama tacked on two more runs in the top half of the inning via a Kenleigh Cahalan single and a home plate steal from Larissa Preuitt.

Southeastern Louisiana made a valiant effort at a comeback, scoring two runs off of singles in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Beaver ultimately shut the door to send Alabama to the regional final on Sunday. 

“We talk about being gritty and not pretty, bend but don’t break,” Murphy said. “It was a great win against a great Southeastern team. I think everybody can see that they can play with anybody.”

Up next, Alabama will look for one more victory to move onto the Super Regionals. The Crimson Tide will play Southeastern Louisiana again on Sunday. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.


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