TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama softball split its two Saturday games at the Easton Bama Bash, posting a convincing 11-3 win over Northern Iowa before taking a hard-fought 3-1 loss to ninth-ranked Florida State in the nightcap.
Alabama (9-2) found an offensive rhythm against Northern Iowa (9-6), scoring in five of the six innings Tide batters came to the plate. Runs were at a premium in game two however, as Florida State (10-4) scored three unanswered runs before the Crimson Tide scratched one across in the fifth inning and loaded the bases in the seventh. Alabama could not complete the rally however, as the Seminoles held on for the two-run win.
Freshman Madison Preston (3-1) took her first loss of the season in the game against Florida State while junior Courtney Gettins (3-0) pitched all 6.0 innings in the run-rule win over the Panthers, holding the lineup to three runs on six hits.
"I want to say thanks to the fans for the great turnout," UA head coach Patrick Murphy said. They have been incredible the past two days. I thought Courtney settled down after the first inning against Northern Iowa. I think the key was that she pitched three-straight shutout innings that gave our offense a chance to come back.
"In the second game, I was really proud of Madison for what she did. This was her first shot against a ranked opponent. I thought she gave us a chance to win and that's what I always ask from a starting pitcher. She's out there for a reason, we believe she has the ability to beat a top-10 team."
Offensively, senior Demi Turner posted a three-hit effort against Northern Iowa, driving in a run, while sophomore Bailey Hemphill tallied a career-best four RBIs on a three-run double and RBI single. Against the Seminoles, senior Sydney Booker drove in the Tide's lone run of the day on a RBI single.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 11, NORTHERN IOWA 3 (6 INN.)
The Northern Iowa bats were hot to start the game, leading off the inning with a double and back-to-back singles to plate the first run of the day. The Panthers would eventually load the bases with nobody out. A force out at home on a fielder's choice would go for out number one and a fly ball to left would go for out number two, but the runner at third was able to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly and make it 2-0. A fly ball ended the inning with UNI up by two early.
In the bottom of the second, freshman Kaylee Tow led off the inning with a hard-hit double to the wall in center field. She advanced to third on a fly ball and came home on an RBI single from junior Caroline Hardy. Later in the inning with a pair in scoring position and two out, sophomore Elissa Brown dropped a single into left field, plating both runners to put Alabama on top 3-2. Turner added another with an RBI single in the next at-bat before a groundout ended the inning with Alabama now on top, 4-2.
With two on base in the bottom of the third following a walk and fielding error, Hemphill blasted a single to left field, scoring senior Peyton Grantham from second base to make it 5-2. A three-run double from Hemphill in the bottom of the fourth swelled the lead to 8-2.
UNI brought its third run of the day home on an RBI double in the top of the fifth inning before heavy rainfall forced a brief weather delay. Upon resumption, Gettins got the Tide out of the top-half stranding two in scoring position as the Tide now led 8-3. In the bottom half with sophomore Claire Jenkins at second base, Turner legged out an infield single and an overthrow to first base allowed her to move up to second while Jenkins rounded third and came home on the error to make it 9-3.
With two out and runners at the corners in the bottom of the sixth, Jenkins doubled to the wall in left field, driving one run home and putting two in scoring position to set up pinch-hitter freshman Kyra Lockhart for the game-ending hit, an RBI single that capped the run-rule victory, 11-3.
GAME TWO: FLORIDA STATE 3, ALABAMA 1
Florida State's Carsyn Gordon scored the first run of the day, pulling a solo home run down the left field line in the top of the second, the first earned run allowed by Preston this season. Jessie Warren doubled the Seminole's lead in the top of the third, sending another solo home run out to right field that just cleared the glove of a jumping Tow at the fence as the score stretched to 2-0.
An RBI single by Warren in the top of the fifth gave Florida State a three-run lead and Alabama scored its first of the day in the bottom half on a two-out RBI single from to cut the Seminoles lead to 3-1.
Facing the same two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh, Tow drew a leadoff walk to bring the potential tying run to the plate. Jenkins nearly beat out a bunt single in the next at-bat, but was called out at first as it went down as a sacrifice bunt to advance Tow into scoring position. A fly out went for out number two before senior Carrigan Fain was hit by a pitch to put two on base and Booker knocked a hard-hit single at the pitcher that she couldn't locate, ending as an infield single to load the bases. The rally ended there however, as a popup in foul territory ended the game.
Alabama concludes its weekend with a game against Georgia State (7-7) on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1:30 p.m. CT.