Murphy ejected as softball’s comeback falls short against No. 18 Georgia

Blake Byler, Staff Reporter

Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy was ejected for the first time this season Saturday afternoon.

Murphy’s ejection came after an argument with an umpire over a strike call against senior Ally Shipman in a critical moment in the fifth inning. The home plate umpire deferred to the third-base umpire rather than the first-base umpire to decide whether Shipman swung at a pitch or not.

“I went up to him and said, ‘Can I ask you why you asked the guy behind you, instead of the guy in front of you,'” Murphy said. “Then I said it again. I wanted to know why he didn’t ask the guy with a better angle.”

Despite his ejection, No. 4 Alabama (29-5, 6-4 SEC) attempted to rally to beat No. 18 Georgia (31-5, 5-2 SEC), but ultimately fell short in a 5-3 defeat in game one of the three-game weekend series.

The biggest difference in the game, according to Murphy and Shipman, was getting key hits at the right time.

“I got a solo home run but didn’t get a hit with runners on,” Shipman said. “If I could take back my home run for a single with runners on, I would.”

The sellout crowd inside Rhoads Stadium looked to make its mark on the game early. After a scoreless first inning, three consecutive pitches from starter Montana Fouts were called balls, much to the crowd’s displeasure.

The crowd became energized through multiple scoreless innings, as a pitcher’s duel was afoot in Tuscaloosa.

Through three innings, Alabama and Georgia had a combined one hit. Fouts had five strikeouts and had retired all nine batters thus far, while Georgia pitcher Madison Kerpics had three strikeouts of her own in that time frame.

The Bulldogs finally broke through in the fourth inning. After a single and a walk, an RBI double to center field brought in the first run of the game. Shortly after, Georgia’s Jayda Kearney popped one into left field that Alabama could not get under, as another Bulldog runner scored. Georgia added one more, taking a 3-0 lead before Fouts’ seventh strikeout got Alabama out of the inning.

Alabama needed an answer in the bottom of the fourth, and it got one from Shipman. The senior and Tennessee transfer bombed a solo home run to left field for the Crimson Tide’s first run of the game.

The home run was Shipman’s sixth of the season, enough to give her the outright team lead. She also leads the team in RBIs on the season with 35.

After a 3-up, 3-down top of the fifth, Alabama looked to chip away at the lead once more. The Crimson Tide loaded the bases with two outs, bringing Shipman up to bat. The strike call against Shipman that resulted in Murphy being thrown out of the game displeased the roaring crowd. Shipman then struck out looking, as Georgia escaped the inning still holding a two-run lead.

Georgia added to its lead in the top of the sixth with a two-run home run and an emphatic bat flip from second baseman Sydney Kuma.

Just when it looked like Alabama was out of it, the Crimson Tide showed some life. With two on base, freshman Megan Bloodworth hit a double into center field that brought in two Alabama runners, trimming the Bulldog lead to just 5-3 headed into the final inning.

Georgia regained its composure in the seventh and was able to close out the game to take a 1-0 lead in the weekend series.

“We had a lot of fight in that last inning,” Shipman said. “In the dugout we thought we were going to win that whole time.”

While the loss certainly stings, Alabama still gets two more shots at the Bulldogs this weekend. Game two of the series will take place in Rhoads Stadium tomorrow at 3 p.m. CT. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

“Now is the time to get it going and prove a point,” Murphy said.