Softball Takes Two to Open Play in Arizona

Feb. 14, 2014

TUCSON, Ariz. - Alabama opened its weekend at the Hillenbrand Invitational with two lopsided wins, defeating Grand Canyon in the first game, 13-5, before returning to shut out Tennessee State, 12-0, in the night game.

"The offense was really good today," said Head Coach Patrick Murphy. "We weren't that happy with our power numbers last year and we worked on some things in the fall to improve them and it's really showed so far this season."

Alabama (7-0) defeated Grand Canyon (3-5) and Tennessee State (1-6) by a combined score of 25-5, hitting four home runs in the game against Grand Canyon. Haylie McCleney led the offense, going 5-6 including a double and a three-run homer. Leslie Jury and Sydney Littlejohn each earned complete-game wins, combining to allow just three earned runs off 14 hits.

"In the circle, it seemed like all of Leslie's hits were singles," said Murphy. "We can deal with that. She wasn't allowing extra-base hits and nothing left the park. Sydney did another great job this weekend. It was just two little singles she allowed and she was in control the whole way."

Alabama got out to an early lead before Grand Canyon came back to tie it in the third inning, but a potent Tide lineup provided plenty of run support to eventually put away the Antelopes. The Crimson Tide plated 13 runs, helped in part by four home runs that accounted for all but one of those runs. Jury (3-0) pitched through some early trouble to earn her third complete-game victory of the season.

With the loss, Grand Canyon falls to 3-5. Taylor Nowin (0-1) entered to pitch with a five-run deficit in the first and took the loss, throwing 7.0 innings with five earned runs allowed.

Alabama didn't waste any time getting things rolling, as McCleney and Danielle Richard led off the game with back-to-back hits and Kaila Hunt drove in one with an RBI double down the left-field line to make it 1-0. Danae Hays was hit by a pitch to load the bases and Leona Lafaele cleared the bases with a grand slam to extend the lead to 5-0. After an early pitching change by Grand Canyon, they retired three-consecutive batters to end the half-inning as the Tide held the early 5-0 lead.

The Antelopes answered right back with their own hot start, loading the bases in the bottom of the first to set up Nicole Newbury for a two-run double to cut the Tide's lead to 5-2. Alabama escaped the jam, holding two Grand Canyon runners in scoring position to maintain the three-run lead.

GCU tacked on an unearned run in the bottom of the second to make it 5-3 and they tied it up the bottom of the third off a two-run homer to make it 5-5. The tie score didn't hold for long, as Hays put the Tide back on top with a three-run homer in the fourth to make it 8-5.

With two away in the top of the fifth, McCleney widened the gap with a three-run homer to dead center as the Tide moved ahead 11-5. The final blow came in the top of the seventh, as Andrea Hawkins blasted her first career home run over the right-field foul pole to swell the lead to 13-5. Jury shut down the Antelopes in the bottom of the seventh to secure the lopsided win.

The Alabama offense came through with another big win in Friday's second game at the Hillenbrand Invitational, shutting out Tennessee State 12-0 in five innings.

The Tide offense scored 12 runs off of 12 hits, led by freshman Chandler Dare going 3-4 with two RBI. Littlejohn (2-0) earned her second win of the season, her first career shutout, while the Tigers' Olivia Gamache (0-3) took the loss in the circle.

Alabama scored the first run of the day, as Lafaele pulled a two-out double down the left-field line to drive in McCleney from third and make it 1-0 in the top of the first inning. With the bases loaded in the second inning, Hays hit a fly ball to left field that allowed Ryan Iamurri to tag up from third and make it 2-0. An errant throw on a Lafaele groundout allowed another to cross as Alabama moved up 3-0 in the second inning.

The Tide doubled its lead in the third inning, as Jordan Patterson knocked a two-run double off the left-field wall and Iamurri drove her home with an RBI single to make it 6-0. A passed ball allowed Iamurri to score from third and back-to-back singles by Chander Dare and Marisa Runyon made it 9-0 in the third with still nobody out. Tennessee State eventually stopped the bleeding as the inning ended with the Tide up by nine.

Alabama tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fourth as the 12-0 lead proved final to give Alabama its seventh win of the season.

Alabama continues action at the Hillenbrand Invitational tomorrow with a pair of games. First, the Tide takes on New Mexico (1-5) at 2 p.m. CT before playing No. 24 Arizona (5-0) at 7 p.m. CT.