Softball avenges first WCWS loss with 15-3 barrage against Florida


Photo by Robert Sutton

James Benedetto, Assistant Sports Editor

OKLAHOMA CITY — Revenge is sweet, especially in the Women’s College World Series.

Today Alabama exacted some revenge while staying alive in the world series with a 15-3, run-rule victory over Florida.

The 12-run margin of victory ties for the third-largest margin in WCWS history. For the Gators, the 15 runs allowed is tied for the third-most runs in program history and is the most since LSU scored 14 against Florida in 2015.

“They got us in the SEC Championship and it was a tough loss for us,” junior Bailey Hemphill said. “So, we knew coming in that this was for the season.”

Alabama lost to Florida in the SEC Championship after a clutch two-RBI double in the sixth inning, led by senior Amanda Lorenz, which gave the Gators the late lead.

“I think for me, it was just finishing the SEC right,” senior Merris Schroder said. “We had such a good SEC season and in the championship game we didn’t come out on top. So, for me it was finishing the last SEC opponent on a high note.”

The rout began in the bottom of the first inning as three-run home runs, first by Schroder and later by sophomore Kaylee Tow opened up a six-run advantage for Alabama. Florida made one of four pitching changes as senior Kelly Barnhill was relieved after two-thirds of an inning.

“Kelly [Barnhill] had a great career for the University of Florida and there is no doubt that she is a great pitcher,” Tow said. “We faced her a lot of times this season and she is going to have a great outing every time she goes out there, so just to get the momentum on our side offensively early was big.”

The Crimson Tide would continue the offensive onslaught as it would score a combined nine runs in the bottom of the third and fourth innings. The rout was capped off by a three-run home run Hemphill. With one swing of the bat, Hemphill set the program record for most home runs in a single season (26) and most RBIs in a single season (82).

“Its just an honor to be talked about with Kelly Kretschman in the same sentence,” Hemphill said. “I didn’t know I was going to hit it over, I kinda got jammed a little bit.”

Hemphill surpassed Kretschman’s record of 25 home runs in a single season in the bottom of the fourth inning. The mark stood for 21 years with the closest hitter before Hemphill was Kaila Hunt’s 21 home runs back in 2012.

“That was 1998 when Kelly Kretschman set the record, it was the second year of the program and she was a freshman,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “She took the country by storm and hit 25 her first year and I think she led off in nine games with home runs, so she is still the greatest hitter we have ever had.  But for Bailey [Hemphill] to pass her up, it says a lot. Kelly was a gold medalist, she was a silver medalist, I can’t say enough about her, but for Bailey to do that, especially today, in this situation too. I think the game was in hand but she passed it down and did her job. Pretty darn good night for her.”

Alabama continues its journey on “Survival Saturday” as the Crimson Tide face off against Arizona to stave off elimination. The two teams faced off at the Hillenbrand Invitational back in February. The Crimson Tide got the better of the Wildcats by a score of, 6-1.

“Well, obviously we know Arizona is a great team.  We played them earlier in the season,” Tow said. “I think what we showed here today is exactly what we need to do tonight.  The offense jumped on them early. We know we have a great pitching staff.  Sarah [Cornell] did great.  Whoever starts in the circle needs to work hard for us, and the offense needs to work hard.”