TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Down 5-4 heading to the fourth inning, 14 Alabama batters came to the plate as part of an eight-run top of the fourth to push the Crimson Tide ahead to a 12-5 lead, which proved final.
No. 5 seed Alabama (42-18) will advance to Sunday's Regional Championship game at 1 p.m. CT, while Middle Tennessee (40-19) will play in an elimination game tonight against either LIU or Central Arkansas. The winner of Saturday's final elimination game will have to beat the Tide twice on Sunday to advance.
The Blue Raiders took the first lead of the game with solo home runs in the first and second innings before the Crimson Tide put up a four-spot in the top of the third, with two runs coming home on a pair of errors and Bailey Dowling driving in two more with a two-out double to make it 4-2. The lead was short-lived as Middle Tennessee scored three in the bottom half to move back in front, 5-4.
After a leadoff walk to Kenleigh Cahalan in the top of the fourth, Kali Heivilin smashed her second home run in as many days, giving Alabama back the lead at 6-5. Dowling came through again with two in scoring position and two out, pulling a two-run single through the left side to make it 8-5. The bases were loaded again later in the half-inning with two out and Cahalan watched four pitches go by as she drew the walk to drive in another run. The half-inning continued to spiral for Middle Tennessee as three more runs came home on another pair of bases-loaded walks and wild pitch before a fly ball ended the big inning with Alabama ahead 12-5. That lead ultimately proved final, as the Blue Raiders stranded four runners on base over the remaining four innings they came to the plate.
Heivilin continued her big weekend with a 2-for-3 day with three RBIs, two of which came on her second home run of the weekend. Dowling drove in four RBIs on a pair of hits, her third game this season with at least four RBIs. After throwing a complete-game victory yesterday, Jaala Torrence (8-2) earned the win in relief Saturday with one hit and two walks allowed over 4.2 shutout innings.
From Head Coach Patrick Murphy
"A win is a win this time of the year. It wasn't the prettiest. Jaala [Torrence] did a great job coming in and did exactly what she needed to do. I always tell the reliever to keep the score the same and she did that so kudos to her. [Bailey] Dowling and Kali [Heivilin] had seven of our RBIs so it was a really good game for those two especially."
- Alabama is now 67-11 all-time in NCAA Regional play
- This is the 16th time since the current postseason format was adopted in 2005 that the Crimson Tide has gone 2-0 to start Regional play
- The 12 runs scored is the most Alabama has scored in a Regional game since a 13-3 win over SIUE in 2014
- It is the sixth time this year the Tide has posted double-digit runs in a game, last doing so against UAB on March 22
- Kali Heivilin hit her second home run of the weekend as part of a 2-for-3 day at the plate, now hitting 3-for-6 with three runs scored, five RBIs and two home runs in Regional play
- Bailey Dowling was 2-for-4 with four RBIs, her eighth multi-RBI game this season and team-leading 14th multi-hit game
- Jaala Torrence earned her second win of the weekend in the circle, throwing 11.2 shutout innings across two games
- B1 | Laura Mealer put Middle Tennessee on the board with a solo home run (0-1, 1 Out)
- B2 | Another solo homer from Ansley Blevins doubled the Blue Raiders' lead (0-2, 2 Out)
- T3 | A pair of errors on one play allowed two Tide runs to score (2-2, 1 Out)
- T3 | Bailey Dowling drove in two on a two-out double (4-2, 2 Out)
- B3 | A bases-loaded single to left drove in a run (4-3, 1 Out)
- B3 | A bases-loaded walk tied up the game (4-4, 1 Out)
- B3 | The runner at third tagged up on a ball caught in foul territory, scoring on the sac fly (4-5, 1 Out)
- T4 | Kali Heivilin slugged a two-run home run to left field (6-5, 0 Out)
- T4 | Dowling pulled a two-run single through the left side (8-5, 2 Out)
- T4 | A bases-loaded walk to Kenleigh Cahalan scored a run (9-5, 2 Out)
- T4 | Another bases-loaded walk plated another run for the Tide (10-5, 2 Out)
- T4 | A third bases-loaded walk added another run (11-5, 2 Out)
- T4 | A wild pitch allowed Cahalan to score from third (12-5, 2 Out)
Up Next: vs. TBD
- Sunday, May 21 - 1 p.m. CT (TV assignment TBA)