Feb. 28, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama softball opened the Easton Crimson Classic with a pair of wins Friday, defeating Purdue, 7-3, before dispatching Houston, 11-4, in the nightcap at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama (15-3) hit .333 as a team, defeating Purdue (5-9-1) and Houston (9-4) in two games that saw each Tide pitcher throw over 130 pitches. Haylie McCleney, Leona Lafaele and Molly Fichtner each had three hits on the day, while Kaila Hunt blasted her 50th career home run, becoming just the fourth player in Alabama history to hit the milestone.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 7, PURDUE 3
Alabama opened its day with a 7-3 win over Purdue, as Leslie Jury (7-1) threw her longest outing of the season, throwing 137 pitches for her seventh complete-game victory of the season. Fichtner went 2-3 with a pair of RBI while Hunt's lone hit of the game was a fourth-inning solo homer, the 50th long ball of her career. Lexy Moore (1-4) took the loss for Purdue, lasting just 1.2 innings with six earned runs.
Alabama did most of its damage in the first two innings, scoring two in the first and four in the second. A Kallie Case RBI triple and a Fichtner RBI groundout made it 2-0 in the first, before Jadyn Spencer doubled the lead with a two-run double in the second and Fichtner added another with an RBI single to make it 5-0.
Alabama added one more in the fourth off a solo homer by Hunt, but could not move ahead by eight runs, pushing the game past the five-inning mark. Jury gave up her first hit of the day in the top of the sixth, as Purdue's Ashley Burkhardt blasted a two-run homer to right field to cut the deficit to 7-2. The Boilermakers added another in the seventh off an RBI groundout but could not complete the comeback as Alabama held on to win, 7-3.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 11, HOUSTON 4
Alabama posted double-digit runs for the sixth time this season, as the offense came alive in a 11-4 victory over Houston in the Friday nightcap. Eight out of the nine in the Tide batting order earned at least one hit, with Peyton Grantham driving in a team-leading three runs. Jaclyn Traina (4-2) earned her fourth complete-game victory of the season, holding the Cougar offense to just three earned runs off eight hits. Houston starter Summer Groholski (3-1) lasted just 1.2 innings, allowing four earned runs in the loss.
The Tide plated six runs over the first three innings, plating runs in each of the first three innings to take the early 6-1 lead. Houston scored one in the top of the fourth before Alabama put more distance between the teams in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to a Grantham RBI groundout and a two-run double by Danielle Richard to make it 8-2.
Each team scored a pair of runs in the sixth, but a 1-2-3 top of the seventh ended it as Alabama claimed the 11-4 victory.
Alabama continues its weekend tomorrow with a pair of games, opening against No. 9 Florida State at 1:30 p.m. before playing Houston at 4 p.m.
Head Coach Patrick Murphy:
On the win over Houston
"We put the ball in play and took advantage of eight walks. Peyton Grantham did a great job at third base. You really can't tell that she is a freshman when she is out there, which is a good thing. Danielle Richard came in and got the pinch hit two-run single for us. I was pleased offensively. We are going to need the momentum going into tomorrow because Florida State is a very good team. Houston hit the ball well and found some gaps."
On Kaila Hunt hitting her 50th career home run:
"She has had a heck of a career. She sees the ball very well. When she goes opposite field with the gap, she is seeing the ball. The warmer it gets the better she hits the ball. Tonight was not a very good night to play softball. It felt a little bit like Oklahoma City to tell you the truth, it was very cold."
Junior Pitcher Leslie Jury:
"We had a couple jams were we had the bases loaded and at that point, we were just trying to get Purdue to get themselves out with pop-ups and ground balls. I was trying to hit my spots to get out of the inning. I was just thinking `throw strikes and get out of the inning'."
Senior Infielder Kaila Hunt:
On hitting her 50th career home run
"Honestly, I didn't know I hit 50. That is good to know. It is a cool thing to be mentioned with names like Amanda Locke, Charlotte Morgan and Kelly Kretschman. I don't really keep up with it though, I just go and play."
On taking momentum into tomorrow's matchup against Florida State
"Gaining momentum is huge for us, being able to see those hits and feel good about our swings, going into play Florida State. They are a good team and have good pitchers. Building off of tonight and being able to score 11 runs and take this into tomorrow will be good for us."