March 1, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama softball maintained its perfect weekend at the Easton Crimson Classic Saturday, defeating No. 9 Florida State, 1-0, and Houston, 12-1.
Alabama (17-3) earned two wins in completely opposite styles Saturday, battling ninth-ranked Florida State (17-2) in a one-run pitchers' duel before dominating Houston (9-5) for a run-rule victory. Leona Lafaele and Haylie McCleney earned three hits between the two games, with Jadyn Spencer driving in four of the team's 12 runs.
GAME ONE: #11 Alabama 1, #9 Florida State 0
Alabama earned its first ranked victory of the season in a pitchers' duel against ninth-ranked Florida State, with a Kaila Hunt solo homer making all the difference in the 1-0 decision. Jaclyn Traina (5-2) earned her fifth victory of the season, her first shutout, with nine strikeouts and only four hits allowed. Seminole starter Lacey Waldrop (9-2) suffered just her second loss of the season.
The two teams battled for four innings, stranding a combined 11 runners on base. Hunt finally broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fifth, blasting a two-out solo homer to left field. The long ball is the 51st of her career, putting her nine away from tying Kelly Kretschman's school record of 60. She has hit a home run in four of her last seven games.
The Seminoles went down in order in the sixth but threatened in the in the seventh, loading the bases with two outs to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Traina battled through the final at-bat to strike out the batter and preserve the 1-0 victory.
GAME TWO: #11 Alabama 12, Houston 1 (5 Innings)
After a pitchers' duel in game one, the Tide offense exploded for a huge game two, defeating the Houston Cougars 12-1. Six of the starting nine earned at least one hit, including home runs from Lafaele and Spencer. Leslie Jury (8-1) earned her fifth-straight complete game victory in the circle, making quick work of the Cougar lineup with just one earned run off three hits. Houston's Julana Shrum (2-2) took the loss.
Alabama struck first, as a Peyton Grantham fly ball with the bases loaded drove in one off the sacrifice fly in the first inning to make it 1-0. The score remained the same until Alabama tacked on three in the top of the fourth, making it 4-0 before Houston broke up the shutout in the bottom of the fourth to make it 4-1.
The Tide broke the game wide open in the top of the fifth, scoring eight runs off five hits and one Houston error. With two on and one out, Spencer launched a long homer toward the scoreboard in left center, her first home run of the season, to make it 7-1 Alabama. Later with two on, Molly Fichtner roped a double into the left-field gap to drive in a pair and further stretch the lead to 9-1. Grantham extended the inning, reaching on a fielding error as Fichtner scored to make it 10-1. Lafaele struck the final blow, blasting a huge home run to right field to make it 12-1, which proved final.
Alabama concludes its weekend with a second matchup against Florida State on Sunday, March 2 at 1:30 p.m.
Head Coach Patrick Murphy:
"The Florida State game was a great win by Jackie [Traina]. It was awesome defense all the way around. Usually in a pitchers' duel like that, it's one key hit and one mistake that will win a game. They gave up one key hit and that's what did it for us. This was Jackie's best game of the year by far. She was driven all night. We talk a lot about `take what they are going to give you'. If they are going to give up three walks, take it and pass the baton to the person behind you in the lineup and let them do some damage. We started with two on and nobody out and we scored five after that. We had a big shot by Jadyn [Spencer] and a big shot by Leona [Lafaele]."
Junior Outfielder Jadyn Spencer:
"I think it was cool that we scored five runs with two outs. Coach Murphy told us that in our meeting and none of us had realized it at the time. It is a true testament to what we have been working on with our offense. One thing about Kaila Hunt is that no matter what she does in her previous at bats, she is going to do what she can to give us a chance to win games. We talk about it all the time that we are going to win some games 12-1 and then we will win others 1-0. We have to do what is necessary to come out with the win."
Sophomore Infielder Leona Lafaele:
"I am happy for the team. I hit a home run but the team did it all and I was just a part of it. Coach [Murphy] told us to focus on strike-zone awareness, swing at our pitches and be aggressive. Today we had great weather and played together. We came off of a good team win in the first game and that carried into the second."
Senior Infielder Kaila Hunt:
"It is awesome to face a really good team and a really good pitcher and make great contact on a good pitch, especially when it's in the fifth inning and the score is 0-0. It is a great feeling when the hitters are struggling but our pitchers have our backs and hold them to zero runs. This was Jackie's first shutout and that goes to show you that she has our back when we are struggling against a good pitcher. She did her part. It was a good team win. We had good defense and put the ball into play. There is no one in that position that I would rather have on the mound. There have been so many times when we have had bases loaded and she strikes out two then gets a ground ball. She can just get herself out of jams. It is a great quality for her to have."