Softball dominates No. 6 Florida in game one

Blake Byler, Staff Reporter

ESPN knows people tune in when these two teams square off.

No. 4 Alabama and No. 6 Florida have combined to win the last 13 SEC regular-season championships, resulting in them receiving a nationwide audience for game one of their weekend series on Saturday afternoon, headlining on ESPN.

The Crimson Tide (32-5, 9-4 SEC) defeated the Gators (30-8, 7-6 SEC) in game one by a final score of 8-3 in front of a hostile crowd in Gainesville, Florida.

Senior Montana Fouts (16-2) got the start in the circle for Alabama and pitched an excellent game outside of a three-run fourth inning. The Kentucky native struck out 11 batters after throwing a season-high 144 pitches.

After each team traded a 1-2-3 start in the first inning, the Crimson Tide struck first.

Alabama loaded the bases with one out in the second inning, bringing freshman Jenna Lord up to bat. Lord knocked a ground ball down the third base line, barely inside the bag, for a two-run double. The hit brought in seniors Kaylee Tow and Ally Shipman and gave the Crimson Tide the early 2-0 lead before two fly outs ended the inning.

Alabama’s success continued in the third. In Tow’s second at-bat of the game, she drove her first pitch into center field to bring in Shipman and senior Ashley Prange, extending the lead to 4-0. Lord followed up Tow’s hit a few at-bats later with her second two-RBI double of the game, adding two more to the Crimson Tide’s lead.

Lord hasn’t played extensively in her freshman season but made the most out of her start Saturday. She had six RBIs coming into Saturday and added four more in the first three innings of Saturday’s game.

Lord got her chance to score a run herself as well in the third after a Dallis Goodnight single brought her in, moving the Alabama lead to 7-0 before the Gators could finally get Alabama out of the inning. Through two and a half innings, Alabama had scored more runs than Florida batters it had faced.

It took until the bottom of the fourth inning for the Gators to record their first hit of the game, but when that hit came, they also brought in their first run, as Skylar Wallace scored from second after previously being walked. Florida added two more before Fouts’ seventh strikeout of the game ended the Gators’ run.

After a few scoreless half-innings, Alabama loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a hit and two walks. The Gators walked Goodnight, bringing in pinch runner Savannah Woodard and extending the Alabama lead once more.

The teams traded outs from then on, allowing Alabama to secure the huge game-one win.

With the 1-0 series lead, the Crimson Tide will head into game two on Sunday with loads of confidence. Game two will start on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT on ESPN2.