SEATTLE, Wash. - Alabama softball rallied for a hard-fought comeback victory over BYU to open Friday play at the Husky Classic before falling in five innings to tournament host and top-ranked Washington, 8-0.
In the first game of the day, Alabama (11-3) trailed BYU (7-10) by four runs halfway through the game, its largest deficit to that point in the season. The Crimson Tide rallied with a four-run fifth inning, tying it at 7-7 on a grand slam from sophomore Bailey Hemphill, before a walk-off RBI single from freshman Kaylee Tow in extra innings capped the 8-7 comeback victory. Hemphill was one of three Tide players with multi-hit efforts, with sophomore Elissa Brown going 2-for-3 from the leadoff spot and junior Merris Schroder batting 2-for-4 in the nine-hole. Junior Courtney Gettins (5-0) earned the win in relief, throwing 6.0 innings with three runs allowed, two earned.
In the second game of the day against top-ranked Washington (19-0) the Huskies got off to a fast start, scoring seven runs over the first two innings and capping the run-rule victory with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Tide mustered just two hits in the losing effort, coming off the bats of Hemphill and sophomore Gabby Callaway.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 7, BYU 6 (8 INNINGS)
With two on and one out in the top of the first, BYU put the first run of the day on the board with an RBI single. A pair of groundouts ended the inning and limited the damage to just one run. Alabama put two on base in the bottom half of the inning but could not bring either across as it remained a one-run game. In the bottom of the second with two out and two in scoring position, sophomore Elissa Brown pulled a single through the right side to score junior Caroline Hardy from third and tie it at 1-1.
In the top of the third, BYU started the inning with a single and double to quickly put two in scoring position. Following an infield single to load the bases, an errant throw allowed the runner at third to come home and give the Cougars a 2-1 lead. That ended freshman Madison Preston's outing in the circle as junior Courtney Gettins entered in relief with two in scoring position and nobody out. The first pitch of the next at-bat was lifted to right field for out number one, allowing the runner at third to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly with the score now 3-1.
With two on and one out in the top of the fourth, Brown charged at a single to shallow center and turned it into a fielder's choice, making the quick throw to second for a force out. An intentional walk loaded the bases and BYU's Alexa Strid tacked on two more with a two-run single to center, making it 5-1 before a popup ended the inning.
Junior Merris Schroder led off the bottom of the fifth with a single through the right side, turning it over the top of the order and Brown followed with another single to put runners at first and second with nobody out. A walk to Tow loaded the bases. Following a strikeout, Hemphill brought everyone home with a towering grand slam to left field, tying the game up at 5-5.
The score remained the same heading to the bottom of the seventh inning. Hemphill started the inning with a leadoff walk and senior Rachel Bobo entered to pinch run, advancing to second on a wild pitch and third on a sacrifice bunt. A lineout and strikeout would keep her stranded 60 feet away as the Tide could not win it in regulation, forcing extra innings for the first time this season.
With the international tie-breaker in effect, BYU had a runner placed on second base to start the inning. She was sacrificed to third and then came home on a sacrifice fly to put the Cougars ahead, 6-5. In the bottom-half of the inning, the BYU first baseman could not handle the ground ball and the error allowed sophomore Claire Jenkins to come home all the way from second and tie it up at 6-6. Later with a runner at second and two out, Tow knocked a single back up the middle to drive in the game-winning run as Alabama completed the comeback victory, 7-6.
GAME TWO: WASHINGTON 8, ALABAMA 0 (5 INNINGS)
Washington led off the bottom of the first with a single before a force out and strikeout quickly put two outs on the board. Husky cleanup hitter Julia DePonte put the home team in the run column with a two-run home run to center field. Washington kept the inning going with a double and single to put runners at the corners. On a double steal attempt, the ball got away from the Alabama infield and allowed the runner at third to score on the error and put the Huskies up 3-0 before a groundout ended the inning.
Looking to answer right back, Alabama led off the top of the second with a single by Callaway and walk to senior Peyton Grantham and the pair each moved up 60 feet on a wild pitch to put two in scoring position with nobody out. The Tide could not capitalize on the big early opportunity however, as UW starter Gabby Plain retired three straight to end the inning with the score still 3-0.
Washington added some cushion in the bottom of the second with a two-run double from Sis Bates and two-run single from Kirstyn Thomas to stretch the lead to 7-0 with nobody out in the inning. The Huskies brought nine batters to the plate in the inning, ultimately taking a seven-run lead to the third inning.
The Huskies would load the bases again in the third inning with one out, but a strikeout and groundout would get the Tide out of the inning unscathed. In the bottom of the fourth, the leadoff batter was hit by a pitch and that ended senior Alexis Osorio's outing in the circle as Preston stepped into the circle. The left-handed pitcher got Alabama out of the inning with a groundout and back-to-back strikeouts as the score remained 7-0.
With two away in the bottom of the fifth, Bates concluded the run-rule victory for the Huskies with a solo home run, bringing the final score to 8-0.
Alabama continues play at the Husky Classic tomorrow, facing Portland State (4:45 p.m. CT) and Washington (7 p.m. CT).