For the second straight day the Crimson Tide softball team (29-4, 9-0 SEC) posted a big four-run inning to come from behind and secure a 6-3 win and series sweep over the second ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (27-4, 2-4).
As was the case all weekend the Tide forced Tennessee All-American pitcher Monica Abbott to work deep into the count while doing all its damage with two outs.
“To start 9-0 in the SEC against Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee, three great programs is just incredible,” said head coach Patrick Murphy. “This weekend every hitter just battled and battled and battled the whole time. I don’t think one kid gave in, in an at-bat and I think that was the key the whole weekend, to make (Monica) Abbott work.”
The Crimson Tide never caved under the pressure, scoring all six runs with two outs.
“Our theme throughout the history of the program has been Two outs? So what!’ and I think everybody has bought into that, where it doesn’t matter if there’s two outs, we still have one left. In softball that’s a third of your life, a third of the inning, it’s huge. I don’t think it rattles them when they get two outs because they don’t think it’s a big deal. I think we had a key walk in there and just two great at-bats that followed and had the (four) RBI.”
After spotting the Lady Vols a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, Stephanie VanBrakle responded in the bottom half of the inning with a two-out solo home run over the left field fence tying the game at 1-1.
Tennessee plated two more runs in the top of the third and just when things began to look grim for the Tide, Bama struck for four, two-out runs in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Jordan Praytor, who was in the thick of things all weekend, reached on a one-out error by shortstop Lindsay Schutzler. VanBrakle then dropped a single in front of centerfielder Sarah Fekete, who was playing VanBrakle with her feet on the warning track. Dominique Accetturo hit a hot shot to third base but Jennifer Griffin easily handled it and forced Praytor at third. Staci Ramsey walked, loading the bases and Dani Woods followed with a two-out double to left centerfield that scored Michelle Menningmann, who was running for VanBrakle, and Accetturo tying the game at 3-3. Kelley Montalvo then took the first pitch she saw and laced a double down the right field line scoring Mallory Benak, who was pinch running for Ramsey, and Woods and the Tide had a 5-3 lead.
Alabama added an insurance run in the sixth inning, again doing the damage with two outs. Praytor led off the inning with a walk and was sacrificed to second by VanBrakle. After an Accetturo ground out, Ramsey singled down the right field line scoring Praytor for the final 6-3 margin.
The Lady Vols threatened in the top of the seventh inning putting two runners on, but sophomore Chrissy Owens came on in relief and struck out the only the batter she faced to the end threat and complete the sweep. It was her third save of the season and the 14th of her career, leaving her two short of breaking the school record for saves.
VanBrakle (17-2) collected her second win of the series allowing three runs on nine hits while striking out nine batters.
VanBrakle, Ramsey and Montalvo paced the Alabama offense with two hits each while Woods and Montalvo each drove in two runs.
Bama will take the week off from competition before hitting the road for the first time in conference play when the team heads to Lexington, Kentucky next weekend for a three-game series with the Kentucky Wildcats.