Softball falls to Mississippi State in 10 innings


By Hannah Saad

James Ogletree, Sports Editor

For the second time in three days, seven innings was not enough for fourth-ranked Alabama softball to dispatch Mississippi State. And for the first time in 344 days, the Crimson Tide (36-2 overall, 7-2 SEC) lost a game at home in Rhoads Stadium, falling 12-9 to the Bulldogs in the 10th.

Alabama was playing from behind for most of the game. Junior pitcher Sarah Cornell, starting for the third time in five games after pitching 14 1/3 total innings on Wednesday and Friday, didn’t make it past the first on Sunday.

She gave up hits (and runs, though one was unearned) to the first four batters, forcing reliever Krystal Goodman in to begin the second inning. That error was one of three the team committed, its second-most this season.

“Just too sloppy to win today. We didn’t deserve it,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “We only scored in one out of 10 innings and you’ve got to do better than that.”

Amid nine zeros sat a solitary “9,” denoting the Crimson Tide’s nine runs in the fourth inning that tied a season high. Two Bulldog errors within Alabama’s first three batters got the team on the board, but it didn’t stop there.

Outfielder Kaylee Tow hit a two-RBI single, then immediately was driven in on a triple by outfielder K.B. Sides. Then first baseman Bailey Hemphill hit a single to score Sides and tie the game at five runs apiece. Shortstop Claire Jenkins hit another to put runners on first and second.

As the order came around for the second time in the inning, catcher Reagan Dykes broke the game open with a three-run homer, her sixth of the year. Two hits, a walk and a stolen base later, the score was 9-5 and the 3,600-plus in attendance had a series sweep on their minds.

“It was a great inning where we scored nine runs,” Murphy said. “We knocked the starter out. We knocked out the reliever. We knocked out a second reliever. And then after that we just didn’t do enough.”

The Crimson Tide showed its gratitude for the Bulldog’s two errors in the fourth inning with two of its own in the fifth. Goodman had retired eight straight batters before three in a row scored, abruptly stopping the home team’s momentum.

“We make one play in the [fifth inning] and they probably don’t score the [three],” Murphy said.

Nonetheless, they did score the three, and then they added another one to tie the game in the sixth while Alabama was stuck in neutral. The Crimson Tide would not score again, which Murphy attributed to lack of focus.

“We have the leadoff runner on in the seventh, eighth… and tenth inning and we didn’t score,” Murphy said.

Immediately after Tow walked to open the seventh, Sides lined into a double play. Outfielder Merris Schroder walked to open the eighth but was picked off. Another double play negated a walk at the start of the ninth.

Senior pitcher Courtney Gettins, having retired 11 of her previous 14 batters, couldn’t keep the Bulldogs at bay any longer. They led off with two singles, and two batters later, a three-run homer gave them the game’s final victory margin.

The Crimson Tide had one final opportunity with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth, but it quickly faded with a called strikeout and two flyouts to left field and left foul territory.

After the game, a miffed Murphy said his relief pitching was his team’s highlight of the game.

“I thought Krystal and Courtney gave us chances to win,” Murphy said. “They did exactly what we wanted them to do. They put zeros up on the board for the most part and allowed our offense to get in.”

Alabama hosts UAB on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT before traveling to play at South Carolina over the weekend.