COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Alabama won its opening game at the 2019 SEC Softball Tournament in dramatic fashion, with freshman Skylar Wallace hitting a walk-off home run in extra innings to give the Crimson Tide the 2-1 victory.
Alabama (51-6) fell behind early after Georgia (40-17) took a lead in the top of the fourth but the Tide answered back quickly with a run in the bottom half to tie it at 1-1. That remained the score through regulation, as the game went to extra innings. In the bottom of the eighth, freshman Skylar Wallace crushed the sixth pitch of her at-bat, sending the ball over the fence against a strong wind for Alabama's third walk-off victory of the season.
"When Skylar hit her home run ball, that really was the only spot in the whole field where a ball could've gone out tonight, right over the ESPN set in right center," UA head coach Patrick Murphy said. "Obviously, she got every bit of it, because it hit the top of the set."
Wallace's home run was part of a 2-for-3 day, driving in both of the Tide's run on a bases-loaded walk and the eighth-inning home run. Sophomore Maddie Morgan also tallied a pair of hits, batting seventh, while junior Claire Jenkins drew a career-high three walks. Freshman Montana Fouts (15-3) went the distance in the circle, allowing just one run on four hits with nine strikeouts.
"Fouts did a great job for us," Murphy said. "I was really worried with how many people we were leaving on base. It was a bunch when I looked down on the stat sheet; it was a way too many. We said at the bottom of the eighth, the first team that really executes well is going to win the game, and we need to do that. So, Skylar took care of the rest, and Montana was very, very good in the circle."
Alabama had the only hit for either team through the first two innings before sophomore Maddie Morgan tallied the second of the day to lead off the bottom of the third. A pair of groundouts put two outs on the board but moved Morgan to third and a pair of walk then loaded the bases. A groundout ended the threat as it remained scoreless heading to the fourth.
Alyssa DiCarlo tallied the Bulldogs' first hit of the day to lead off the fourth with a double in the gap. Alysen Febrey followed with what looked to be an RBI double but Murphy challenged the call. After a short review, the call was upheld as a fair ball and Georgia led 1-0. The runner advanced to third on a groundout and, following a strikeout, a walk put runners at the corners with two out. A popup ended the half-inning with the Bulldogs in front by one.
Junior Claire Jenkins led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk and sophomore KB Sides laid down a bunt behind her. A great stretch attempt at first went for naught as the umpire ruled her foot was off the bag. That play was challenged by Georgia head coach Lu Harris-Champer but was upheld as Sides was safe on the throwing error. Senior Reagan Dykes was then hit by the first pitch of her at-bat to load the bases. The teams were briefly called off the field for what looked to be weather delay but were quickly brought back out. A fly ball to left went for out number one, too shallow for a sacrifice fly, and then freshman Skylar Wallace drew the bases-loaded walk to tie the game at 1-1.
The Bulldogs made the call to their bullpen as Alley Cutting entered with the bases loaded and one out. A force out at home went for out number two and a fantastic catch on the full run in center field ended the inning with the score tied.
After a 1-2-3 top of the fifth, senior Merris Schroder hit a one-out single up the middle in the bottom half of the inning and Jenkins followed with her second walk of the day. A deep fly ball and groundout ended the threat as it remained tied at 1-1.
Morgan flared a leadoff single into shallow left in the bottom of the sixth and, with freshman Kloyee Anderson pinch-running at first, Wallace beat out a bunt single to turn it back to the top of the Tide batting order. After back-to-back strikeouts, junior Bailey Hemphill drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. A groundout ended the threat as it remained tied heading to the final inning of regulation.
Georgia went down in order in the top of the inning before Jenkins drew her third walk of the day to lead off the bottom half. That forced another pitching change for Georgia as Kylie Bass stepped into the circle. Bass and the Bulldog defense retired the next three as the teams headed to extra innings to decide the game.
After recording two outs on two pitches to start the eighth Georgia hit back-to-back singles, but a strikeout ended the Bulldog half of the inning. Wallace led off the Alabama half of the eighth, battling through five pitches before sending the sixth over the wall with a mighty swing against a strong wind, giving Alabama the 2-1 win.