Alabama Softball Run-Rules Kent State Twice in T-Town Showdown
The No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (17-0) started its Easton T-Town Showdown weekend with two run-rule wins over the Kent State Golden Flashes.
Lexi Kilfoyl and Krystal Goodman were credited with wins, starting the first and second games respectively. The star of the day offensively for the Crimson Tide was graduate transfer Alexis Mack. The lead-off hitter went 6-7 with four runs, spearheading an explosive performance for the Crimson Tide lineup.
“Her bunting skills are unreal,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “When somebody can do that, it doesn’t matter where the runners are on base and she can lay down a bunt, that puts so much pressure on the defense. Righty pitcher, lefty pitcher it doesn’t matter. If she puts it where she wants to, she can beat it out.”
Alabama also did something fairly new this season: they battled back from being down. Even though Kent State took early leads in both games, Alabama roared back to win both contests in dominating fashion.
“We have been very intentional this year about having a response inning,” Mack said. “Getting a run right after they score as soon as they score on us that’s the mindset...I think the coaches have been really intentional about preaching that to us and we’ve done a really good job.”
Game 1: Alabama 9, Kent State 1
Alabama overcame a slow start and a couple early errors to run-rule the Golden Flashes. Kilfoyl got the start on the mound, recording seven strikeouts on 85 pitches. Alabama’s batting lineup was equally dominant with nine hits and nine runs, with graduate transfer Alexis Mack recording three of those hits.
The two squads traded outs for the first couple innings, until Kent State struck first with a Brooklyn Whitt hit to center that subsequently scored Kennadie Goth on an errant throw.
With the score 1-0 Kent State, Alabama’s bats came to life. Elissa Brown and Mack got on base with two singles, and each advanced a base with a steal. Freshman phenom Bailey Dowling scored Brown on a double soon after, and Bailey Hemphill scored Mack on another hit. A Claire Jenkins hit later in the inning scored Hemphill and Alabama wouldn’t look back from there up 3-1.
Kent State would get shut out for the rest of the game, as the Alabama defense retired batter after Batter. In the fourth, A fielding error on a Dowling hit deep to right resulted in two unearned runs for Alabama, making the lead 5-1. Another Kent State errant pitch on a Hemphill single would score Dowling, and Alabama would end the fourth up 6-1.
Kilfoyl’s pitching owned the seventh, as the sophomore retired three straight batters with strikeouts. Kent State pitching would do just the opposite, as Alabama capitalized off of walks and hit-by-pitches. Additionally, a fielding error allowed a Brown deep hit to result in another Alabama run.
With the score 7-1 in the sixth, Kent State would walk four Alabama batters and hit-by-pitch a fifth, handing the Crimson Tide the last two runs it needed to run-rule the Golden Flashes, 9-1.
Game 2: Alabama 11, Kent State 3
Goodman started off the game with three strikeouts against the Golden Flashes, and Alabama’s bats were equally as strong. Alexis Mack continued her hot streak with a bunt, stealing home on a wild pitch soon after. Bailey Hemphill followed with a triple, and another wild Kent State pitch brought her home to cap off the first inning with the Crimson Tide leading 2-0.
Things go off to a rocky start in the second. The Golden Flashes would acquire four hits and two wild pitches off of Goodman, including another Brooklyn Whitt hit.
Alabama trailed Kent State 3-2 heading into the bottom of the second, but Alabama would tie it up off a Mack RBI triple.
With the score tied 3-3 to start the third inning, Alabama settled down defensively and retired all three straight Kent State batters. At this point the Crimson Tide’s bats exploded, adding four runs on five hits and taking a commanding lead. The entire back half of Alabama’s lineup hit singles, and errant throws by Kent State aided the effort.
Another solid inning by Goodman in the fourth shut down Kent State, and the Crimson Tide added another run off of a Tow double and a Hemphill RBI single.
In the fifth Murphy opted to finish the game with freshman Jaayla Torrence and the freshman held her own, holding Kent State scoreless another inning . In the bottom of the fifth, Alabama hit three-straight doubles including Tow’s second of the game and the Crimson Tide pushed the lead to 10-3.
Another strong inning for Jaayla Torrence and an RBI single by Kat Grill proved to be the dagger, and Alabama claimed their 17th victory and fifth run-rule of the season, 11-3.
The Crimson Tide continue the Easton T-Town showdown tomorrow with a double-header against Northern Iowa starting at 11:00 CT.