Softball looks to bounce back at St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational

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Softball looks to bounce back at St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

James Benedetto | @james_benedetto, Assistant Sports Editor

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Five outs were all the difference between a 3-1 record and Alabama’s 1-3 start after the JoAnne Graf Classic this past weekend.

In two of the team’s three losses, Alabama held a sizable lead going into the final frame and lost it. A main contributor that allowed the comeback from both No. 5 Florida State and North Carolina were errors. The Crimson Tide committed nine errors in its first four games of the season where in 2019, it took 19 games to reach that total.

“It was just disappointing,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “Six of the nine errors were in the glove or out of the glove, literally just catch a ball. I know there was some plays where it was like a runner coming into a base, but you just have to make the play.”

In the Seminoles’ comeback, Alabama committed two of the “in the glove, out of the glove” errors in the seventh inning. Both errors not only kept the inning going, but loaded the bases for FSU’s Dani Morgan, who would tie the game with a grand slam.

“You know, every one of us thought we were going to win both the Florida State, but really the next two [games],” Murphy said. “… [If] we make one or two plays in either of those games, we win. We make one or two better pitches, we probably win. The only real whitewash was the [second] Florida State game and they, you know, they handed it to us.”

Despite the disappointment with losing, there were some bright spots after the four games. Graduate student Alexis Mack, freshman Savannah Woodard, sophomore Kaylee Tow and seniors Elissa Brown and Taylor Clark all tallied more than three hits in the four-game stretch. Tow led the way with five hits throughout the weekend, including two doubles, and is also tied for the lead in RBIs on the team with three.

Clark also tallied three RBIs this past weekend, two of which came on her two-run home run in the 5-2 win over North Carolina. It was Clark’s first home run in a Crimson Tide uniform after appearing in 32 games last season.

The news seemed to get better this week after the team announced the addition of freshman catcher Abby Doerr. The Eugene, Oregon, native is a two-time First-Team All-State honoree and was named the 2019 Sky-Em Conference Player of the Year.

“We’re just really glad that she could join us this weekend,” Murphy said. “She’s got a good arm… she’s very smooth behind the plate. And then she’s a lefty hitter and takes a hack like you wouldn’t believe. So she had 17 home runs in her junior year of high school and she will not get cheated.”

The team will welcome back junior Maddie Morgan, who did not travel with the team this past weekend, but it will be without Brown, who underwent surgery to repair a broken hand and will be out indefinitely, according to a tweet from the team’s account on Thursday morning.

Alabama will be back in the Sunshine State as it will take on Liberty in the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational. First pitch is set for Feb. 13 at 8:30 a.m.

“… We’d rather be gritty, gritty than pretty,” Murphy said. “And this is an opportunity now to show it because this week is going to be tougher. And we just need somebody to step up really, really kind of be a leader offensively, defensively, on the mound even.”