Late heroics push Tide to victory

Cyrus Ntakirutinka

The Alabama softball team made a strong effort to get over a 1-2 start on the season and did so by beating the South Alabama Jaguars 6-3 on Tuesday night. Head coach Patrick Murphy said he was pleased with his team’s efforts.

“I thought it was a fun game to watch,” Murphy said. “It was a fun game to coach in. I was really proud of the comeback.”

South Alabama showed little fear facing the Crimson Tide as both teams produced three hits each, but no runs, through the first three innings. Alabama found its offensive rhythm beginning in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Following a single to right field by sophomore Kendall Dawson, junior Alex Blewitt hit a two-run homerun to put the Tide up 2-0. South Alabama answered back in the next inning, as Brittany Campbell hit a two-run double to even the score. The Tigers went up a run to start the sixth inning with a homerun by Haley Hopkins.

With the Tide trailing 3-2, Murphy decided to change pitchers and turned to freshman Lauren Sewell to replace sophomore Amanda Locke, who had pitched for five innings. Locke recorded eight strikeouts and allowed five hits, three runs and a walk. Sewell pitched the rest of the game giving up only one hit, with no walks and four strikeouts.

“We were behind, but I went in confident,” Sewell said. “I knew that my team needed me to come through. I went and just stayed calm and did what I do every day in practice in the bullpen.”

Alabama’s batters stepped up in the bottom of the sixth to jumpstart the comeback. Sophomore Jazlyn Lunceford hit a double to centerfield that set up junior Catherine Dozier’s single up the middle for the game-tying RBI.

Junior Whitney Larsen put the Tide ahead for good with a two-run homerun. Larsen battled against Tigers’ pitcher Beth Pilgrim and eventually saw her pitch.

“She came with the same pitch for the second foul ball,” Larsen said. “I didn’t see any difference. Credit to her – she’s a good pitcher, she kept us off balance and they had a good game plan, bust us inside. Eventually through a couple innings we started catching on to it. We had some timely hits and I think everybody contributed in a timely manner.”

Sewell sealed the Tide’s victory in the seventh as she gave up no bases and struck out of the three batters. Murphy feels the freshman sensation is a strong asset to Alabama’s pitching staff and also possesses a lot of potential.

“Lauren came in and I thought she did a really good job doing what she was supposed to do,” Murphy said. “One of the things about Lauren when we recruited her is that she had a game-face like no other. She’s similar with Kelsi [Dunne] like that but just no emotion at all, just a poker face. It’s a huge credit to her and the way she pitches.”

The Tide will travel next to the Hatter Invitational in Deland, Fla. Alabama will start the tournament on Friday, facing Rhode Island at 10 a.m.