TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama posted two wins in Friday’s home opener at Rhoads Stadium, earning an 11-1 run-rule victory over Missouri State before winning a pitcher’s duel against 24th-ranked Minnesota in walk-off fashion, 1-0.
Alabama (12-0) remains undefeated on the young season, marking its best start since 2013. The Crimson Tide used a big seven-run fourth inning to take down Missouri State (7-5), 11-1, in five innings before grinding out a neck-and-neck battle against Minnesota (5-4) in the nightcap, with a walk-off single from junior Elissa Brown making the difference in the ranked matchup.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 11, MISSOURI STATE 1 (5 INN.)
Alabama dispatched Missouri State in five innings to open play at the Easton Bama Bash, scoring four in the seventh before driving in seven in the fourth to bring the score to its final double-digit margin of 11-1. The top four in the order each had at least one hit and one RBI, led by a 3-for-3 performance by sophomore KB Sides. Junior Bailey Hemphill drove in three runs on her fourth home run of the season, with other long balls coming from senior Caroline Hardy and junior Merris Schroder. Junior Sarah Cornell (4-0) threw 4.0 innings for her fourth win of the season while senior Courtney Gettins retired the final three batters in order to seal the win.
Schroder put the Tide ahead in the bottom of the second with a towering solo home run. Later in the inning with two out, sophomore Kaylee Tow added a pair with a two-run double in the gap and Sides drove her in with an RBI single up the middle to make it 4-0.
Missouri State tallied its first hit of the game with one out in the top of the fourth, and two more singles drove home its first run of the game. In the bottom half of the inning, Sides increased the Tide’s lead back to four runs with an RBI single through the right side and Hemphill pushed it even further with a three-run home run. Leading 8-1, Hardy made it back-to-back bombs with a solo shot to increase the lead to eight.
Later with two out, an RBI single from sophomore Maddie Morgan made it 10-1 and a fielding error in the next at-bat allowed Morgan to score and take it to 11-1 before a groundout ended the big inning. Gettins entered to pitch the top of the fifth, retiring the Bears in order to cap the 10-run win.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 1, MINNESOTA 0
The pitchers shined in the ranked matchup to close out Friday action at Rhoads Stadium, taking a scoreless tie to the bottom of the seventh before timely hits from juniors Claire Jenkins and Brown pushed the game-winning run across. Freshman Montana Fouts (4-0) continued her dominating debut campaign in the circle, fanning eight batters in the complete-game shutout with two hits and two walks allowed.
The two teams left a combined six runners in scoring position in the first six innings, with the two pitchers limiting each offense’s scoring opportunities. Jenkins led off the bottom of the seventh with a single down the third-base line and was advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt from Morgan. Two batters later, Brown dropped a single into shallow left, as Jenkins rounded third and slid home for the 1-0 win.
Alabama continues its weekend at the Easton Bama Bash with rematches against the Bears and Gophers on Saturday, Feb. 23, facing Missouri State at 12:30 p.m. CT and Minnesota at 3 p.m. CT.