TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama softball put together a complete performance on Sunday against Kentucky, shutting out the Wildcats 3-0 to earn the series victory at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama (41-9, 12-6 SEC) scored all three of its runs against Kentucky (39-11, 14-7 SEC) on home runs from Leona Lafaele and Reagan Dykes, their second of the weekend. The pair are tied for the team lead with 11 each this season, including seven in the last eight games for Lafaele.
"It's good to see both Reagan Dykes and Leona Lafaele hit the way they have this season," head coach Patrick Murphy said. "I think Reagan is feeding off of Leona for sure, especially since Leona goes before her in the batting order."
In the circle, Sydney Littlejohn (19-4) pitched her seventh shutout of the year, going the distance with no walks and just four hits allowed with leadoff hitter Sylver Samuel as the only Wildcat batter to reach scoring position. For Kentucky, Kelsey Nunley (18-5) took the loss, exiting in the beginning of the fourth inning but later reentering in the seventh to secure the final out of the inning.
"On Sunday in the SEC, usually everyone is going to pitch each girl twice," Murphy said. "After that, it comes down to who makes the quicker adjustments -- the hitter or the pitcher? I think Sydney did a lot better today than on Friday. Any time the ball cuts off the bat, you know that she's going to have a good day because the ball is spinning that much. I noticed that the umpire grabbed the ball when the Kentucky batters fouled it off to look and see if it was cut because the spin was so great. That's a really good sign to us that the ball is moving well."
Haylie McCleney set the tone immediately leading off the bottom of the first, poking a single down the left-field line. Later with two outs in the inning, Dykes blasted a two-run home run to left field to give Alabama the early 2-0 lead. Alabama's second home run of the day also came with two outs as Lafaele stepped to the plate in the bottom of the third, blasting a solo homer off the scoreboard to stretch the lead to 3-0. Littlejohn and the Tide defense would do the rest of the work to close out the game, retiring 12 of the 13 batters faced after the third inning.
The series rubber match is set for a 1:30 p.m. CT start on Sunday, April 24 at Rhoads Stadium.