Softball hangs on to defeat Mississippi State in eighth inning


CW / Hannah Saad

James Ogletree, Staff Writer

It took more than seven innings for the first time this season, but Alabama softball (35-1, 6-1 SEC) opened its home series against Mississippi State with a 3-2 win on Friday night.

Sophomore outfielder Kaylee Tow stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth with the bases loaded. She had already recorded a walk to lead off the third inning and a two-RBI single in the fourth that gave the team its only runs in regulation.

The team’s leadoff hitter entered the game batting .388 with seven home runs. She didn’t envision the game ending on a walk, but she’ll take the win.

“I just kept telling myself ‘You’re going to hit it and you’re going to hit it hard,’” Tow said. “A walk was as good as a hit – I obviously didn’t hit it or hit it hard – but I kept telling myself that.”

Alabama struggled to bring runs home for the first three innings, stranding five runners. It ended the second inning with two runners in scoring position and left two on base in the third as well.

After taking the lead in the fourth, the Crimson Tide cycled through just 10 batters in the next three innings.

Bulldogs pitcher Emily Williams pitched 7 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs and six hits and recording eight strikeouts.

“You got to give her some credit too because she pitched her butt off,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “She was hitting her spots. There were a couple times where it was low and away, and from where I was standing it was like, ‘That’s a perfect pitch.’”

Alabama pitcher Sarah Cornell pitched a complete game, allowing eight hits and one earned run just two days after pitching 6 1/3 innings in a tight win over Georgia Tech. She was forced into action due to a minor injury to freshman ace Montana Fouts that will keep her out indefinitely.

Four of Cornell’s hits were allowed in the second inning, but she calmed down to give up just two in the next four. With Alabama leading 2-1 in the seventh with one out, Mississippi State’s Mia Davidson blasted a solo shot to tie the game at two.

“I felt bad for [Cornell] because she had done a really good job against [Davidson]. I think she was 0-for-3 up to that point,” Murphy said. “But stuff happens, and then the offense had her back an inning later.”

The decisive half-inning began with a single by senior outfielder Merris Schroder, who advanced to second on a fielder’s choice and third on a sacrifice bunt. When freshman Skylar Wallace walked to load the bases, the stage was set for Tow to seal the win.

“[Tow’s] just one of the most clutch players I’ve ever played with,” Schroder said. “You know she’s going to get it done any time she gets in the box.

“I just knew it was going to happen. With this team we’re never going to stop fighting, so it really wasn’t that much of a doubt for me.”

Alabama will continue the series against Mississippi State on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.