Recap | Softball shows off against Auburn

Alabama softball went big against this weekend. The team swept the Auburn Tigers 6–0, 4–1, 4–2.

Robert Cortez, Staff Reporter

Friday Night: Alabama 6, Auburn 0

No. 4/4 Alabama softball (22-1, 6-0 SEC) showcased a strong all-around performance in its Friday night conference opener with a 6-0 victory against rival No.22/21 Auburn (16-4, 0-3 SEC).

Alabama won the game just three batters in. Graduate student Bailey Hemphill sent a double down the left field line to score senior K.B. Sides and graduate student Alexis Mack for an early 2-0 advantage.

Hemphill added insurance runs for Alabama starter sophomore Lexi Kilfoyl (8-0; .14 ERA). She bashed a home run in each of the fifth and seventh innings. The Louisiana native’s two home runs allowed her to tie freshman Bailey Dowling for the team-lead with four. Dowling also had a home run in the game. Hemphill finished the night with five RBIs, which put her in rare territory as she is now only one of three players in Alabama program history to have 200 or more career RBIs. Friday’s game brought Hemphill up to 203.

In a press conference after Alabama’s loss to South Alabama, Murphy said that it makes it hard to score and create a productive offense when the leadoff batter does not reach base. This time around, the offense did not face that trouble. Four of its seven leadoff hitters reached base.

The Alabama offense tallied 11 hits from six different batters and carried a .344 batting average on the night. Hemphill was not the only one to have a multi-hit performance. Mack, Dowling and graduate student Elissa Brown each had a pair of hits. Dowling’s second inning home run marked her team-leading 20th RBI of the season.

Kilfoyl pitched her fifth shutout of the season, did not allow a free pass and collected 10 strikeouts, which matches her season high that came against Louisville on Feb. 14. Not one time did the sophomore face a three-ball count.

The top third of Auburn’s lineup put up four of its eight hits on the night and created two bases-loaded situations with fewer than two outs in both the first and third innings, but Kilfoyl was able to hone in and retire the side. Auburn went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, but Auburn head coach Mickey Dean did not wave a runner home on either of the two hits.

Despite the early offensive success for Auburn, Kilfoyl only allowed two Tigers to reach base after the third inning.

The Alabama defense fielded its ninth errorless game of the season and first since a Mar. 5 game against Kent State. The biggest defensive play looked to come from behind the plate as Hemphill threw out a runner to end the fourth inning. Coming into the weekend series both Alabama and Auburn were ranked top-3 in the conference in steals, but neither side was able to successfully steal a base.

Saturday: Alabama 4, Auburn 1

No. 4/4 Alabama softball (22-1; 6-0 SEC) downed No. 22/21 Auburn (16-4; 0-3 SEC) Saturday afternoon 4-1 to register its first SEC series win.

As projected, Alabama’s junior Montana Fouts (8-1; 1.03 ERA) and Auburn’s Shelby Lowe (6-1; .74 ERA) got the start for their respective teams and each gave up no hits through the first three innings.

Graduate student Alexis Mack captured the first hit of the game to lead off the fourth inning, which broke up Lowe’s streak of seven-straight retired Alabama batters. Mack would come around to score to give the Crimson Tide an early 1-0 lead off a double off the right field wall from senior Kaylee Tow.

The Tigers scored its first run of the series in the bottom half of the fourth inning to tie the game, 1-1, due to a throwing error to third from graduate student Bailey Hemphill. Hemphill’s throwing error was Alabama’s lone error of the game, and Hemphill would redeem herself defensively. She caught a runner stealing in the fifth frame, marking Hemphill’s second runner thrown out during the weekend.

Freshman Bailey Dowling broke up the tie in the sixth inning with a single to score freshman Savannah Woodard, who pinch ran for Hemphill, and an Auburn error added an insurance run for Alabama. Tow crossed home plate to put the Crimson Tide up 3-1. Dowling’s first hit on the day and third of the series caused Auburn to pull Lowe.

Despite the short outing from Lowe, she found success against the bottom half of Alabama’s lineup and leadoff batter senior K.B. Sides as those five batters went hitless.

Tow continued her hot night in the final frame with an RBI double to score graduate student Elissa Brown, which would put the game at its final score of 4-1. All three of Tow’s hits were doubles and had a team-leading two RBIs.

Hits against Fouts were hard to come by for the Auburn offense as it had a scarce trio and carried a .130 batting average against the junior. To nitpick Fouts’ performance, the pitcher did give up a season-high four free passes and faced six 3-ball counts. Fouts added seven more strikeouts to her season total, 96, which leads the Crimson Tide pitching staff.

Hemphill’s big performance at the plate Friday night caused Lowe and KK Dismukes to take the bat out of her hands as they allotted her a free base in all four at bats. Hemphill now leads the team in on-base percentage, .542.