Alabama holds off MSU, advances in SEC Tournament
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Host school and No. 12 seed Mississippi State got the offense started early when Mackenzie Toler blasted a two-run home run in the top of the first inning.
The Crimson Tide didn't wait long to strike back. After walking the lead-off batter and allowing a single to Chandler Dare, Holly Ward gave up a three-run blast to Leona Lafaele. The home run marked Lafaele's 10th in the last 13 games. Conversely, to start the season she had just 4 home runs in her first 40 games. A Peyton Grantham RBI double finished the early scoring for the Alabama as the Tide led 5-2 after one.
Coach Murphy marveled at Lafaele's recent success after the game saying, "It's unbelievable. She is seeing it like a beach ball right now and she usually doesn't go opposite field so when she does that we know that she's feeling really good"
Alabama pitcher Alexis Osorio retired the side in the second inning but the Bulldogs' bats came alive in the 3rd. Kayla Winkfield started things off with an RBI double to center, scoring Loryn Nichols who reached on a walk. Caroline Seitz doubled to left center with runners on the corners allowing Winkfield to come home and score. The Bulldogs cut to within one at the close of the 3rd.
In the 5th, Holly Ward hands Haylie McCleney her fourth walk of the game, this time to load the bases. Chandler Dare follows with an RBI single to left center, scoring a run and leaving the bases full for Lafaele. Ward gets Lafaele to ground to short and Winkfield gets the force at the plate. Bulldogs work their way out of the jam, ending the 5th down 7-5.
Mackenzie Toler, who started the scoring early for the Bulldogs, came to the plate as the tying run in the top of the 7th. After getting ahead of the count early, Alexis Osorio battled back and caught her looking for the second out of the inning. She followed it up with another strikeout, this time swinging, to Calyn Adams to close the game and send Alabama on to the Quarterfinals.
UP NEXT: No. 5 seed Alabama faces No. 4 seed Auburn tomorrow at 7:30 pm ET / 6:30 pm CT on SEC Network. Alabama and Auburn did not meet in the regular season.