Previously undefeated Tide softball team downed by Florida Gators

Kelly Ward

After a nearly 3-hour game, the No. 1 Alabama softball team lost its first game of the season to No. 4 Florida. Jackie Traina pitched her first incomplete game and loss as the Gators downed the Tide 8-4.

“Obviously it’s a good test for us. We need that,” junior Kaila Hunt said. “We haven’t seen that good of pitching this year yet, and for some of the younger kids and the kids who are just getting opportunities, that’s good for them. Especially right before SEC play.”

After a back-and-forth affair, Florida used a three-run sixth inning to take the lead for good.

With one out, Florida loaded the bases with three consecutive singles. Lauren Haeger scored on a wild pitch, then Taylore Fuller hit a stand up double to score 2.

“With a 4-2 lead with one out in the sixth, I think we all agree it should’ve been a win,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “But you [have to] give credit to them. They didn’t give up.”

Florida got on the board first in the first inning when leadoff batter Kelsey Stewart scored Florida’s first run on Lauren Haeger’s RBI single.

After two scoreless innings, Alabama took the lead in the third. Jadyn Spencer stole home on a wild pitch, then Molly Fichtner walked with the bases loaded, scoring Kayla Braud.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Gators tied it up 2-2. Taylor Schwarz stole home after Tide catcher Chauncey Bell earned an error, trying to throw out Kelsey Stewart at second.

But the Tide answered in the bottom of the fifth inning. Hunt score freshman Haylie McCleney with a stand up double. Traina popped out to the shortstop, and Fichtner grounded out to second. Then, Danae Hays scored Hunt with an RBI single and Alabama took a 4-2 lead.

But Florida took the lead in the sixth and never looked back. The Gators extended its lead in the seventh and Alabama couldn’t put together a late-game rally, suffering its first loss of the season. Even though the loss came to Florida, the game was technically a nonconference game and doesn’t count against Alabama’s SEC record.