TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama softball was out-hit in its home opener Wednesday against South Alabama but still managed to edge out a close 3-1 win in the low-scoring pitcher's duel.
Alabama (6-0) trailed South Alabama (5-1) in the hit column, 5-4, but two early runs and some late insurance proved enough to claim the two-run victory. The top three batters in Alabama's order accounted for three of the team's four hits while a fifth-inning solo home run by Marisa Runyon went down as an emphatic final hit of the night for the Tide.
"At the beginning of the year, I told the team we have to learn to win in a lot of different ways," head coach Patrick Murphy said. "Tonight, we had to win while being out-hit. We had some key hits though. I thought Runyon was going to get one, she hit two really hard during her first two at-bats and had a great swing. Demi Turner had a hustle-double, Peyton Grantham hit it hard and Elissa Brown caused them to hurry with her speed and got a run all by herself."
Alexis Osorio (3-0) was again perfect through 3.0 innings before the Jaguars led off the top of the fourth with a base hit, her first baserunner allowed so far this season. The junior from Riverside, Calif., ended the night with one run allowed on five hits and 15 strikeouts while USA starter Devin Brown (2-1) took her first loss of the season with three runs on four hits and four strikeouts.
Alabama got the scoring started in the bottom of the first, as Turner and Grantham hit back-to-back doubles to make it 1-0. In the bottom of the third, Brown led off the inning with an infield single before stealing second and third and coming home on an errant throw to make it 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, South Alabama's Kaleigh Todd led off the inning with a single through the left side, the first baserunner Osorio allowed this season. KC Nichols followed with another single behind her and, two batters later, Abby Krzywiecki smacked a hard double to the wall in center, scoring one to make it 2-1 and put two in scoring position. Osorio got out of the jam with a strikeout and fly ball to left to maintain the slim lead.
Marisa Runyon got the Tide back in front by two in the fifth inning with a solo home run to left-center, her second long ball of the year, but South Alabama soon threated again in the top of the sixth, putting two on base with one out. On a ball in the dirt, the runner at second broke for third but a good throw by Reagan Dykes behind the plate down to Runyon at third caught the runner out. Osorio would retire the next four batters via strikeout to end the game and give Alabama the 3-1 victory.
Next up, Alabama travels to Lafayette, La., for a three-game series against No. 18 Louisiana-Lafayette (4-2). Game one is set for a 5 p.m. CT start on Friday, Feb. 17.