WEEKEND RECAP: Softball drops three in opening weekend


CW file

James Benedetto | @james_benedetto, Assistant Sports Editor

After splitting its double-header on Friday, top-ranked Alabama dropped both of its games on Saturday to fall to 1-3 on the 2020 season.

Game 1 vs. UNC

The team that finished the 2019 season No. 24 in lowest team ERA in 2019, faced a pitching duel in a 5-2 victory over the Tar Heels. Freshman pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl picked up her first win of her collegiate career, allowing two unearned runs and struck out seven batters in six innings of work. The Land O’ Lakes, Florida, native kept North Carolina off the scoreboard for six innings as fielding errors allowed the Tar Heels to score with two ours in the inning.

Despite yielding two runs in the sixth inning, Kilfoyl pitched with a five-run lead up to that point. In the fourth inning, the Crimson Tide tallied four runs thanks to four straight base hits from the bottom of the order. Junior center fielder Elissa Brown kicked off the RBI parade as a one-out RBI single gave Alabama a two-run lead and brought up the top of the order. With still one out in the inning, sophomore shortstop Skylar Wallace increased the lead to three with an RBI single of her own.

Game 2 vs. No. 9 Florida State

The offense showed up early against the Seminoles, but could not sustain the early outburst in the 8-7 loss.

In the third inning, senior first baseman Taylor Clark hit the first Alabama home run in the 2020 season. Clark launched a two-run home run to left-center field which gave the Crimson Tide a four-run advantage. After two more runs in the third and fourth innings, Florida State held Alabama scoreless for the rest of the game.

The Crimson Tide carried a six-run lead into the bottom of the seventh. Florida State chased Alabama starter Montana Fouts after she pitched a total of 7.0 innings in the loss. After the Seminoles loaded the bases, senior utility player Dani Morgan tied the game with a grand slam.

In the next inning, FSU completed the comeback as redshirt junior Elizabeth Mason came through with an RBI-single.

“Kilfoyl and Fouts gave us two really great starts against two really good teams,” coach Patrick Murphy said in a press release. “Unfortunately we couldn’t hang on in the second game. We’ve got to be much better defensively all the way around. It was great to see graduate student Alexis Mack and freshman Savannah Woodard get their first base hits as members of the Crimson Tide.”

Game 3 vs. No. 9 Florida State

Saturday’s rematch with No. 9 Florida State did not have the same back-and-forth as it did on Friday, as the Seminoles run-ruled Alabama, 8-0. Similar to the first meeting, FSU jumped out to an early two-run lead in the first inning. That would be the smallest deficit the Crimson Tide would face as a six-run third inning pushed the lead to eight.

Senior Sarah Cornell was handed the loss in her first game of the season. Cornell yielded eight earned runs on six hits and struck out two batters in 4.0 innings pitched. The major difference between the two matchups with the Seminoles is that the offense could not muster a run. The Crimson Tide registered just two hits and left four runners on base in the loss.

Game 4 vs. UNC

In the lieu of run-rule game, Alabama once again could not hold to a late-lead as it lost 9-8 in its final game of the Joanne Graf Classic. After seven innings of the teams jostling for the lead, seniors Mack and Brown both got on base and used their speed to get into scoring position and came home to score on back-to-back ground balls. Junior Kaylee Tow extended the lead to four with a two-run double.

In the bottom of the inning, Kilfoyl was in position to pick up her second win of her college career. But a two-out, five-run rally by the Tar Heels handed Alabama its second loss in extra innings for the weekend. Alabama’s pitching duo of Fouts and Kilfoyl both pitched over three innings with Kilfoyl taking the loss as she allowed five earned runs on four hits and struck out five.

The Crimson Tide will be back in action on Feb. 13 as the team will be back in Florida to take on Liberty at the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational. First pitch is scheduled for 8:30 a.m.