Softball evens series with No. 23 Missouri Saturday afternoon


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama catcher Ally Shipman (34) celebrates after sliding into home plate in the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 victory over the No. 23 Missouri Tigers on May 7 at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Blake Byler, Assistant Sports Editor

Alabama took a step in the right direction Saturday afternoon.

After having lost four of five games, No. 8 Alabama (40-10, 15-8 SEC) got its first win since April 24, defeating the No. 23 Missouri Tigers (33-18, 12-10 SEC) 3-1. The Crimson Tide sported pink uniforms in honor of its yearly Power of Pink game to bring awareness to breast cancer.

“We had more grit, and it showed,” sophomore Bailey Dowling said. “It came down to it and we got it done. It was a great team win.”

The Crimson Tide was out-hit by the Tigers, recording only five hits compared to Missouri’s eight. Alabama continually stepped up on the defensive end despite the hits, holding the Tigers to 0-for-13 when batting with runners in scoring position.

Missouri opened game two almost identical to its Game 1 start. With two outs in the first inning, the Tigers’ Kendyll Bailey bombed a solo home run into center field, giving Missouri the early advantage once again.

Just like Friday’s contest, Alabama found an answer in the bottom of the first. With two outs, senior Ally Shipman delivered a single for the Crimson Tide’s first base hit. Sophomore Bailey Dowling followed her with an RBI double into center field that brought Shipman home to tie the game at one run apiece.

Both at bats from Shipman and Dowling in the first inning went at least nine pitches, firing up the sellout crowd at Rhoads Stadium with their resiliency.

Missouri threatened in the third inning, loading the bases with one out after an intentional walk of the Tigers’ Kim Wert. Alex Salter, making the first SEC start of her career, delivered with back-to-back strikeouts to get out of the jam. The second strikeout out displeased Missouri head coach Larissa Anderson, who gave an earful to the umpire behind home plate following the strikeout call.

Salter did not allow any runs after the first inning. But with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth inning, Murphy decided to turn to senior Montana Fouts to finish out the game in the circle. Salter finished with three strikeouts and one walk in four full innings pitched.

Fouts got Alabama out of a jam herself right after being inserted into the game. After hitting a Tiger batter with a pitch, she struck out the next batter with the bases loaded to head into the fifth inning stretch – still tied.

The senior pitcher performed well in relief of Salter, as Crimson Tide fans have grown to expect. She racked up six strikeouts on only 11 batters faced, giving up only one hit in the process.

“I love playing behind [the pitching staff],” Dowling said. “Everybody does. I’d run through a brick wall for them. It’s awesome having a pitching staff like that.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Alabama finally found some offense. With Dowling and Shipman on second and third, junior Abby Doerr knocked a two-run single into left field to give Alabama a 3-1 lead – its first lead at any point in the series. The Crimson Tide was able to take care of business in the seventh in order to secure the win.

“It was big,” Doerr said of the hit. “I’m just glad I got the opportunity.”

The win by Alabama sets up a rubber match on Sunday afternoon, with the winner taking the victory in the series. The Crimson Tide’s regular season finale will begin at 1 p.m. CT on ESPNU.

“We still have fight in us,” Doerr said. “We’re ready to go.”