ATLANTA - Alabama softball posted a 3-1 win over Georgia Tech Wednesday night, with the Crimson Tide's three runs coming on a pair of hard-hit home runs backed up by a strong performance in the circle.
Alabama (18-5) took the lead over Georgia Tech (14-8) in the top of the second inning with a monster two-run home run from junior Reagan Dykes, her second long ball in her last four appearances. The Yellow Jackets cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single but sophomore Bailey Hemphill added some insurance with a solo home run in the top of the seventh. Madison Preston (6-1) earned the win in the circle, throwing 6.1 innings with just one run allowed before senior Alexis Osorio picked up her fourth save, striking out the final two batters in the seventh inning to cap the 3-1 victory.
After going down in order in the top of the first, senior Peyton Grantham drew a leadoff walk in the second and, two batters later, Dykes crushed a no-doubt home run over the scoreboard in left center to give Alabama a 2-0 lead. Georgia Tech was hitless through its first eight batters before nine-hole hitter Kelsey Chisolm knocked a two-out chopper up the middle in the bottom of the third, but the Yellow Jackets could not chip into the Tide's two-run lead.
Senior Demi Turner led off the top of the fifth reaching on a fielding error and moved up 60 feet on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Elissa Brown. Turning back to the top of the order, freshman Kaylee Tow drew a walk to put two on base but a pair of fly balls ended the threat, as the score remained 2-0.
A pair of infield singles in the bottom of the fifth gave Georgia Tech runners at the corners with two out and yet another infield single plated a run to cut the Tide's lead to 2-1. Preston bounced back with a strikeout to end the inning, limiting the damage to one run and keeping Alabama in front.
Junior Caroline Hardy benefitted from a one-out fielding error in the top of the sixth, reaching base safely before a walk to Dykes put two on base. With senior Rachel Bobo pinch running at second, a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position but a strikeout and popup left them stranded as Alabama couldn't capitalize on the scoring opportunity.
With the score still 2-1 in the top of the seventh, Hemphill squared up and blasted a two-out solo home run to straightaway center field for some insurance as the Tide now took a 3-1 lead to the bottom-half of the inning. After a groundout went for out number one, the second batter was hit by a pitch and Alabama turned to Osorio in the save situation. The reigning national pitcher of the week picked up right where she left off, striking out both batters to secure the 3-1 win.
Alabama opens Southeastern Conference play this weekend with a three-game road series at 14th-ranked Auburn, starting Friday, March 16 at 6 p.m. CT. Saturday's contest will air live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. CT and Sunday's series finale will air on SEC Network at 5 p.m. CT.