April 4, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Having won six-straight games heading into tonight, fourth-ranked Alabama continued to roll with an 8-0 shutout in six innings to defeat Arkansas in the series opener at Rhoads Stadium Friday night.
Alabama (33-5, 12-1 SEC) was very balanced on offense, as seven of the starting nine earned a hit, led by Jadyn Spencer and Leona Lafaele with three hits each. Lafaele was the leading run producer as well, driving in a career-high four RBI. Jaclyn Traina (14-2) was masterful in the circle, throwing just 77 pitches over 6.0 innings with two hits, one walk and six strikeouts. It was her third shutout of the season and her 11th complete game.
Arkansas (24-15, 2-8 SEC) owned an SEC-leading .335 average heading into tonight’s game, but could only get three on base against Alabama. Starter Sydney Wright (4-4) took the loss in the circle, allowing four earned runs off seven hits in 3.0 innings pitched.
Alabama got the bats going in the bottom of the second, as Molly Fichtner launched a one-out double into the left-field gap. Jordan Patterson, pinch-running, advanced to third on a passed ball and Lafaele drove her home with a single up the middle to make it 1-0. Later in the inning with two away and the bases loaded, Haylie McCleney drove in two with an RBI single, stretching the score to 3-0.
Peyton Grantham drove in another run in the bottom of the third, as an RBI single made it a 4-0 game. Lafaele made it a 6-0 game as she dropped a triple into left field, the first of her career, scoring Spencer and Fichtner on the play.
Alabama put the game away in the sixth inning, as a bases-loaded single by Spencer scored one to make it 7-0. Arkansas made a play at the plate on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice for out number one, but a bases-loaded walk to Lafaele let the eighth run cross the plate to give Alabama the run-rule victory in six innings.
Due to impending rain in Sunday’s forecast, the weekend series has been moved to a Saturday doubleheader. The first game will start at 1 p.m. CT, while game two will be set to start at 4:30 p.m.
HEAD COACH Patrick Murphy:
"I think Leona [Lafaele] was just seeing the ball well. The second one was a really good shot and the first one was right up the middle for an RBI. That is what we expect out of her. It was a great night for her. Everyone on the team got on base at least once, whether it was a hit, walk or hit by pitch. Offensively I was really pleased with everyone. Jaclyn [Traina] threw 77 pitches, which is one of her lowest pitch counts. When she limits her walks and goes right at people, that is what she does. When she starts to fish too much and throw balls all over the place, she is not in command. This was a good hitting team."
SOPHOMORE INFIELDER Leona Lafaele:
"Whatever I do personally, as long as we come away with the win I am good with it. Everybody did well. Jadyn [Spencer] was hitting rockets tonight! It is good when you are down in the batting order and everyone in front of you is killing it, you feed off of them. Everybody was doing their job tonight. If it wasn't for them then I wouldn't have been able to get my hits tonight. We all feed off each other. It was a great team win."
SOPHOMORE OUTFIELDER Haylie McCleney:
"We had been throwing [Kasey] Fagan outside the entire game and that one faded in, so I was set up in right center and she squared up the inside pitch and sent it left center. I had a lot of ground to make up, but it hung up in the air for a while. Traina pitched great, she only threw 77 pitches, which is huge for her. We just fed off her and wanted to give her a lot of runs, so I thought we did a good job with that tonight."