April 24, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Seventh-ranked Alabama put together a well-rounded effort in the opening game of the series against No. 13 Georgia, defeating the Bulldogs 4-2.
Seven of the starting nine for Alabama (41-8, 16-3 SEC) earned a hit, led by Peyton Grantham's 2-3 performance that included a solo home run. Jaclyn Traina (18-2) allowed six hits in the circle, but the Georgia (38-11, 11-8 SEC) hitters helped her by swinging early which led to eight strikeouts. Sophomore Chelsea Wilkinson (24-8) went the distance in the losing effort for Georgia, allowing four earned runs off eight hits.
After stranding two Georgia baserunners in the top of the first, Alabama took the early lead by scoring two in the bottom half. Jadyn Spencer got things started with a single through the left side, scoring Haylie McCleney from second for the first run of the game. Molly Fichtner was hit by a pitch to load the bases with one out and Leona Lafaele tacked on another run with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Kaila Hunt to make it 2-0. Another walk loaded the bases but a groundout ended the threat as Alabama held a two-run lead after the opening inning.
Fichtner made it a 3-0 game in the bottom of the third, battling through a 12 pitch at-bat to blast a single up the middle, scoring Hunt from second. Peyton Grantham tacked on another in the fourth inning, hitting a solo homer over the fence in left-center to make it 4-0. The home run was her third of the season and broke a six-game hitless streak.
Alex Hugo erased the shutout in the top of the fifth, lifting a two-run homer that just cleared the fence in right field to make it a 4-2 ballgame. Traina and the defense shut down any hope of a comeback in the final two innings however, retiring all six Bulldog batters in order, including five strikeouts, to secure the 4-2 victory.
Game two is set for a 6:30 p.m. CT start tomorrow.
Head Coach Patrick Murphy:
"That was one of Jackie [Traina's] best performances of the year. Against a great hitting team, eight strikeouts and no walks means she was very economic with her pitches. When she does that, the defense plays better behind her because they are on their toes the entire time. If she starts throwing a lot of balls, they sit back on their heels and that is when mistakes start to happen. She controls everything from the circle. [Georgia’s] Alex Hugo is a great hitter and her home run was a good pitch and that is what good hitters do. I thought that we had a good approach at the plate and make good adjustments throughout the game. It was a fun night."
Freshman Infielder Peyton Grantham:
"Coach Aly and I have been at it before and after practice and I just trusted the process. The past few games I have not been hitting well. Wilkinson got me my first at-bat with the slow stuff and I expected that again the second time around. I sat on a slow spinning curve ball and hit the home run."
Senior Pitcher Jaclyn Traina:
"I kept going after the home run. It was one pitch that should have been a little lower. You have to keep going after things like that. We made a point to try to shut them out and that is what I was trying to do. I feel good, my body feels good and I have a great defense behind me so it is easy. I build off of the early lead and it helps me."