April 26, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Seventh-ranked Alabama bounced back from a loss in game two for a win in Saturday's rubber match, downing Georgia 4-1 to earn the series win in the Crimson Tide's final home game of the regular season.
Alabama (42-9, 17-4 SEC) took the lead in the bottom of the second and would hold it for the remainder of the game, as the Tide earned its SEC-leading 17th conference win of the season. Alabama hit a home run for the seventh-straight game, as Marisa Runyon hit a two-run shot in the second inning, her third of the year. Jaclyn Traina (19-2) earned her 19th win of the season and the 99th of her career, throwing a complete game with just three hits allowed and nine strikeouts, a season high in SEC play.
After an offensive showcase on Friday, Georgia (39-12, 12-9 SEC) could not get the bats going on Saturday, earning just one run off three hits. Geri Ann Glasco (15-5) started the game and only pitched 2.0 innings because of an injury, but took the loss in the circle.
Georgia struck the opening shot of the game in the second inning, as Haylie McCleney robbed a potential three-run homer, but the long fly allowed the Georgia runner at third to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Runyon gave Alabama the lead on one swing, hitting a two-run homer to straightaway center as the Tide pulled ahead, 2-1. Alabama ended up loading the bases with two away in the half-inning but a hard lineout ended the threat, though the Tide were now on top.
After batting to finish off the top of the third inning, Glasco pulled up with an injury running down to first base, forcing Chelsea Wilkinson to pitch for the Bulldogs in the bottom-half of the inning. Alabama scored their first run against her in the bottom of the fourth, as Danielle Richard dropped an RBI single into left field to make it a 3-1 ballgame. Alabama tacked on one more in the bottom of the fifth, as Molly Fichtner hit a single through the right side to score Kallie Case from second, making it 4-1. Alabama held the same lead heading into the top of the seventh, as Georgia managed to hit a one-out double to left field that put the potential tying run on deck. A strikeout and a groundout ended any chance of a comeback as Alabama secured the series with a 4-1 victory.
Next up, Alabama concludes the regular season with a trip to Columbia, Mo., to face the No. 15 Missouri Tigers (37-13, 13-7 SEC). The three-game series begins on Thursday, May 1 with a 7 p.m. CT game that will be aired live on ESPN.
Head Coach Patrick Murphy:
"Every one of Georgia's hitters swings from their shoelaces all the way up to the top of their helmet. Every time they take a swing, you take a deep breath in the dugout. Jackie [Traina] was even better today than she was on Thursday, which is unheard of in an SEC matchup. One team is going to make an adjustment, either they will make an adjustment to her pitches or she makes the adjustment to what they do. Other than the second and third no-out inning, she was awesome. A mistake was made behind her and she didn't let it bother her and got three outs. That is what a senior pitcher does. She is definitely the SEC Pitcher of the Year in my mind. Overall, I thought the defense was very good this weekend in all three games."
Junior Danielle Richard:
"It was a huge game for us to be able to come back after that loss yesterday and fight. It was a huge opportunity for us to come out and prove that yesterday was not Alabama Softball. Today and Thursday were Alabama Softball. It was a team win and it fires me up. I had a plan to get up in the box and I was looking for one pitch. I was actually going to try and let it hit me because it was coming in close, but I decided to hit the ball instead. When you stick with the plan, good things happen."
Freshman Marisa Runyon:
"I'll credit Coach Aly for my home run. She came up to me before the at-bat and told me to get off the plate and look for the inside pitch. I did and got a good piece of it. I knew I hit it solid. I was excited because I wanted to do it for the seniors."