Feb. 7, 2014
TROY, Ala. - Alabama softball got the 2014 season off to a great start, outscoring Kennesaw State and North Florida by a combined score of 16-1 to earn two wins on opening day.
The 16 runs scored by Alabama (2-0) are tied for the third-most ever on opening day for the Tide. Haylie McCleney, Danae Hays and Jadyn Spencer each went 3-6 on the day with Hays driving in five of the Tide's 14 RBI courtesy of two home runs. Alabama's three pitchers only allowed one earned run over 12.0 innings for a 0.58 team ERA.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 6, KENNESAW STATE 0
The Alabama offense was relatively quiet the first two times through the order but found a spark in the bottom of the sixth, scoring five runs to make it 6-0, which proved final. All six of Alabama's runs came off the long ball, as Kaila Hunt and McCleney each had solo homers and Hays put it out of reach with a grand slam. Jury (1-0) looked stellar in her season debut, throwing a two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts.
"I think if the other team never scores, you never lose," said Head Coach Patrick Murphy after the win. "Jury, Chaunsey Bell and Stephanie VanBrakle did a great job of pitching, catching and calling the pitches. Kennesaw State's pitcher did a great job all day, but we made an adjustment in the bottom of the sixth and ended up pulling away."
Kennesaw State (1-1) suffered its first loss of the young season, with Amanda Henderson (0-1) throwing a strong game before the Alabama offense came alive in the sixth inning.
The game was a defensive battle early on, as good pitching and some stellar defensive plays in the outfield held both teams scoreless through 3 1/2 innings. McCleney broke up the scoreless tie leading off in the bottom of the fourth, blasting a line-drive homer over the center field wall to make it 1-0 Alabama. The Tide would put two more on base but they were ultimately left stranded as Alabama couldn't add to the 1-0 lead.
With one out in the top of the fifth, Kennesaw State's Angie Dascoli broke up Jury's no-hit bid with a weak single that dropped into shallow left field. The runner was left stranded as Alabama maintained its 1-0 lead. Hunt cushioned the Tide's lead in the bottom of the sixth, leading off the half-inning with a solo shot over the left-field fence to make it 2-0. The offense maintained the pressure, loading the bases to set up Danae Hays for the big at-bat as she blasted a grand slam to extend the Tide's lead to 6-0. Jury shut down the Owls in order in the top of the seventh as the Tide held on to earn the six-run victory.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 10, NORTH FLORIDA 1 (5 Innings)
In the second game of the day, the Alabama offense continued where it left off from game one as the Tide dominated North Florida (1-1), 10-1, in five innings. Jaclyn Traina (1-0) earned the win in her first start of the season, throwing 4.0 innings with a solo home run as the only blemish to her line. They Ospreys' Kaylie Wallace (0-1) took the loss in the circle, lasting 2.2 innings before being pulled. The Tide offense was led by Kallie Case with a 2-3 day in the nine-hole and Jadyn Spence with two RBI.
"It was a really good outing by Traina today," said Murphy. "It was great to see Kallie [Case] have a great game out of the nine-hole today and Jadyn [Spencer] having some great at-bats with two strike counts and two outs."
Hays, who hit the crucial grand slam in the earlier game against Kennesaw State, got the scoring started against the Ospreys with a solo home run to lead off the top of the second. A triple by Jordan Patterson put the senior catcher 60 feet away and Ryan Iamurri drove her in with a double through the 5-6 hole to make it 2-0. A fielding error kept the inning alive as Iamurri came home and Hunt advanced to second as the Tide moved up 3-0.
Alabama allowed its first run of the season leading off the bottom of the second, as UNF's Marissa Thomas pulled a solo homer down the left-field line that just stayed fair to cut the Tide's lead to 3-1. With runners at the corners in the top of the third, Case found a gap in left-center to drive in two and extend the Tide's lead to 5-1. McCleney followed that with a hard infield single to score Case and extend the lead to 6-1, which ended Wallace's outing in the circle for UNF. Kayla Goff entered for the Ospreys and forced a groundout to stop the bleeding as Alabama took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the third.
An unearned run off a fielding error in the fourth inning extended Alabama's lead to 7-1 and Alabama added three more in the fifth to move up 10-1 off a two-run Spencer single and a Traina sacrifice fly. Sydney Littlejohn entered to pitch for the Tide in the bottom of the fifth and shut the door on the Ospreys, securing the 10-1 victory.
Alabama continues action at the Troy Subway Invitational on Saturday with a pair of games. The Tide opens the day against Northwestern State (1-1) at 2:30 p.m. CT and concludes against Middle Tennessee State (0-2) at 7:30 p.m. CT.