HATTIESBURG, Miss. - Alabama softball remains undefeated on the young season, earning two convincing wins Saturday at the Black and Gold Invitational against McNeese, 11-1, and Mississippi Valley State, 11-0.
Alabama (6-0) scored 11 runs in each game, holding McNeese (5-3) to just one run while blanking Mississippi Valley State (0-6), the Crimson Tide's fourth shutout of the season. Freshman Kaylee Tow had a stellar day at the plate, going a combined 3-5 between the two games with a three-run home run against the Cowgirls and an RBI triple against the Devilettes. Tow's home run was one of four on the day for Alabama, with additional long balls coming from junior Reagan Dykes, senior Peyton Grantham and sophomore Claire Jenkins.
Junior Courtney Gettins (2-0) earned her second win of the season with a 5.0-inning effort against McNeese, allowing just one run on three hits and freshman Madison Preston (2-0) nearly threw a no-hitter against MVSU, allowing two late hits in the fifth inning but otherwise holding the Devilettes scoreless.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 11, MCNEESE 1 (5 INN.)
After two hitless innings at the plate, Alabama led off the bottom of the third with three-straight hits to quickly load the bases. Sophomore Bailey Hemphill lifted a high fly ball to left field, allowing junior Merris Schroder to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly. Sophomore Gabby Callaway then bounced a double off the wall in center field, scoring Tow from second to make it 2-0.
Following Callaway's double, Grantham turned on the first pitch of her at-bat, bouncing the ball off the scoreboard for a three-run home run to make it 5-0. Two batters later, Jenkins blasted a solo shot to center field to stretch the lead to 6-0 and McNeese made a pitching change. Freshman Amber Coons got the Cowgirls out of the inning, forcing a popup as the Tide took a six-run lead to the fourth inning.
In the top of the fifth with two in scoring position and one out, McNeese scratched a run across with an RBI groundout to cut Alabama's lead to 6-1. In the bottom half of the inning with the bases loaded for the Tide, Dykes knocked a two-run single up the middle to make it 8-1 and Tow ended it with a three-run home run to center field as Alabama took home the 11-1 run-rule victory.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 11, MVSU 0 (5 INN.)
A pair of walks and a bunt single quickly loaded the bases for Alabama in the bottom of the first and another walk to junior Caroline Hardy moved everyone up 60 feet to plate the Tide's first run of the day. The carousel continued with a walk and hit-by-pitch before MVSU was forced to make a pitching change trailing 3-0 with nobody out. Another bases-loaded walk made it 4-0 and an RBI single from senior Carrigan Fain increased it to 5-0. Sophomore Elissa Brown then dropped a two-run single into shallow center, pushing the lead to 7-0. A pair of strikeouts and a popup eventually got the Devilettes out of the inning facing a seven-run deficit.
Junior Caroline Hardy led off the second inning with a single and Grantham bounced a double off the wall in left center to put two in scoring position with nobody out. Jenkins then blasted a long fly ball to center field and Hardy tagged up to score on the sacrifice fly and make it 8-0. In the bottom of the third, Brown laid down a bunt single and advanced to second on a throwing error before coming home on an RBI triple from Tow to make it 9-0. Fellow freshman KB Sides ripped a hard-hit single through the right side to score Tow and give Alabama a double-digit lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Dykes entered to pinch hit and blasted a solo home run to center field, increasing the lead to 11-0. In the top of fifth, MVSU broke up Preston's no-hit bid with a one-out single down the left-field line, and would eventually load the bases with one out. A strikeout and groundout would end the game and preserve the shutout, as Alabama won 11-0.
Alabama concludes its weekend at the Black and Gold Invitational Sunday with a ranked matchup against No. 11/12 Baylor (5-0).