Adjustments were made.
After a night of frustration and missed opportunities on Friday, No. 9 Alabama’s offense flipped the switch in the 10-2 run-rule victory over No. 20 Arkansas on Saturday. The run production also came from a different part of the lineup for the Crimson Tide, as the batters from the five to the nine spot in the lineup produced seven hits and six RBIs in Saturday’s game.
This was a complete turnaround from Game 1 of the series, in which those same four spots produced just two hits in the loss.
“Huge adjustment from last night,” junior Maddie Morgan said. “I’m super proud of the bottom three for stepping up and making that adjustment.”
“The bottom three” in Alabama’s lineup consist of three freshmen: Savannah Woodard, Jenna Johnson and Abby Doerr. All three have struggled to start the year, tallying below a .300 batting average through 21 games this season. But, similar to the rest of the offense, today was their day to come through.
After an 0-for-3 Game 1, including the game-ending double play with the tying run on base, Johnson delivered a two-RBI performance, going 2 for 3 with a double and her first career home run.
The home run, which came in the bottom of the sixth inning, began an offensive explosion that featured five runs coming across to score. It was the fourth time this season that the team posted five or more runs in an inning.
Five of the Crimson Tide’s 12 hits came in the sixth inning. After Arkansas committed two throwing errors, Alabama’s final hit came from freshman pinch hitter Karla Hice: a single to right field that scored pinch runner Sarah Cornell from second to clinch the run-rule victory.
“I think you saw us be a lot more aggressive early in the count,” graduate student Alexis Mack said. “I think that’s why we are so effective is we put the ball in play. We put pressure on the defense, and I think you saw it produce runs because of that.”
Mack, Morgan, Johnson and junior K.B. Sides benefited from the more aggressive approach, and they all tallied multi-hit games, with three of the four producing at least an RBI. Along with the 10 runs, Alabama finished Saturday’s game with more hits and walks than it did on Friday.
“I thought it was much better at-bats, a lot more battles,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “[Arkansas’ pitchers] threw some really tough pitches that we fouled off to get to the next pitch.”
The offensive production was all freshman Lexi Kilfoyl needed to secure her fifth win of the season. After a first inning in which the Razorbacks took advantage of Kilfoyl’s mistakes by scoring two runs, she allowed just two hits for the rest of the game.
“But I think she just settled in, got the drop off to really turn over and got them all down, obviously,” Murphy said. “Just a much better performance after that first inning. It reminded me a lot of the Washington game [a five-inning, one-hit shutout on Feb. 13].”
Alabama will close out the series against Arkansas on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m.