TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (UA Athletics) — Alabama Softball split a Saturday doubleheader against SEC foe Missouri, falling in the opener, 7-3, before bouncing back with a five-inning win, 9-1.
Alabama (28-6, 2-3 SEC) dropped the opener as Missouri (24-5, 3-2 SEC) jumped ahead early and held its lead throughout the game. The script flipped for game two, as the Crimson Tide scored five unanswered runs to start the game and held on for the run-rule victory.
“Credit Missouri, they did everything right and had a great game one,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “We had some defensive errors in game one that cost us three unearned runs. We needed to come back better and stronger for the second game. In game two, we scored early and took the lead instead of letting them take it. The hitters did well throughout the whole lineup. Eight out of our nine starters got on base. That’s a good thing for us.”
Andrea Hawkins earned hits in both games, going a combined 3-6 on the day with a pair of RBIs. Marisa Runyon went 3-7 (.429) on the day, hitting a double and a pair of home runs. Haylie McCleney, celebrating her senior day, went 2-5 with two runs scored and two walks.GAME ONE: MISSOURI 7, ALABAMA 3
The Tigers jumped ahead early with two runs in the first and three more in the third to give them enough cushion in a 7-3 win over the Tide. Alabama’s offense was limited to three runs on four hits and three errors in the field would account for three unearned runs. Missouri starter Paige Lowary (13-2) went the distance in the win, while Alexis Osorio (8-4) took the loss, throwing 4.1 innings with seven runs allowed, four earned, on nine hits.
A pair of RBI hits in the first gave Missouri an early 2-0 lead and they tacked on three more in the third on a two-run double and an errant throw on a pickoff attempt at third to stretch the lead to 5-0. Chandler Dare drove in Alabama’s first run of the day in the bottom of the third, scoring Sydney Booker from second base on an RBI single. Trailing 5-1, the Tide added two more in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single by Hawkins and a bases-loaded walk to McCleney to draw within two, 5-3. A pair of solo home runs for the Tigers in the top of the fifth allowed them to regain a four-run lead, which ultimately proved final.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 9, MISSOURI 1 (5 INNINGS)
Alabama wasted no time bouncing back to start game two, scoring five unanswered runs to start the game and ultimately coming away with a 9-1 run-rule victory in five innings to even the series. After going hitless in the first game of the doubleheader, Runyon bounced back with a 3-3 performance, including an RBI double and a pair of home runs for a season-high six RBIs. Sydney Littlejohn (11-2) was efficient in the complete-game victory, throwing 53 pitches over 5.0 innings with the solo home run as Missouri’s only hit of the day. Danielle Baumgartner (10-2) took the loss for Missouri, exiting after 3.2 innings with six of the eight runs credited to her going as unearned thanks to two untimely errors in the field.
McCleney started off the first inning with a leadoff double and, after advancing to third on a groundout, was brought home by Runyon on a two-run homer. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the second, a wild pitch moved everyone up 60 feet and an infield single added another before Runyon drove in the third run of the inning on an RBI double, pushing the Tide ahead 5-0.
Emily Crane erased the no-hit bid and the shutout on one swing with a solo home run in the top of the third, making the score 5-1. With one on and two out, a fielding error kept the inning alive and allowed Runyon to blast a three-run homer in the next at-bat, stretching the lead to 8-1. Needing one more run for a run-rule victory, Hawkins came through in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single to score pinch-runner Rachel Bobo from second and give Alabama the 9-1 win.
The series rubber match is set for a 6 p.m. CT start on Monday, March 28 live on the SEC Network.