(Photo Courtesy of Alabama Athletics)
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama softball continued its undefeated weekend with a pair of wins, overpowering Virginia Tech 14-5 before edging out UCF in a pitchers’ duel, 1-0, in the final at-bat. The win over the Hokies was Patrick Murphy’s 800th career win at Alabama.
“I have been blessed to be with such great coaches and players over the years,” said Murphy. “I wouldn’t have gotten here without them.”
Murphy is just the 15th active Division-I coach with 800 wins at their current school and the only one in the SEC. Alabama (12-2) exploded offensively in the first game over Virginia Tech (6-5) to the tune of 14 runs on 14 hits, while the bats were quieted against UCF (8-3), but an untimely fielding error by the Knights allowed the winning run to cross the plate in the bottom of the seventh.
McCleney reached base safely in both games, stretching her streak to 14 games as she has reached base safely in every game so far this season. Danielle Richard failed to earn a hit against the Hokies, ending her career-best hitting streak at 10 games, which is the longest for any Alabama player so far this season.
GAME ONE: ALABAMA 14, VIRGINIA TECH 5
The Alabama offense came alive against Virginia Tech, earning a season-high 14 hits to defeat the Hokies by nine runs, 14-5. Kallie Case hit well out of the eight-hole, going 4-5 with four stolen bases, tying the single-game record for stolen bases. Haylie McCleney drew four walks, marking the first time since Cassie-Reilly Boccia did so on March 2, 2012 against Maryland. Sydney Littlejohn (4-0) remains undefeated this season, going the distance with three strikeouts and just two walks. Kelly Heinz (4-3) took the loss for Virginia Tech, throwing 6.0 innings with 173 pitches.
With the score tied at 1-1 in the second inning, Alabama moved up 4-1 thanks to a Ryan Iamurri RBI single and a two-run single by Molly Fichtner. Alabama continued to extend its lead, scoring in each of the last four innings to out-score the Hokies 10-3 during that stretch.
GAME TWO: ALABAMA 1, UCF 0
After an offensive showcase in game one, Saturday’s second game was a pitchers’ duel as the two teams remained scoreless until the final inning, as the UCF center fielder dropped a two-out fly ball to allow the winning run to cross the plate. Leslie Jury (5-1) earned the win in the circle, striking out six with just two hits allowed, while Mackenzie Audas (4-2) took the tough-luck loss in the circle with no runs allowed besides the game-winning error.
Both teams battled in the opening six innings, setting up Alabama for a nail-biting seventh inning. Two walks and a single loaded the bases, bringing Richard to the plate. She grounded out to the shortstop, who threw home for the force out and gave the Tide one last chance in regulation. Fichtner hit a high fly ball into shallow center, which looked like the end of the inning but the UCF center fielder dropped the ball, which allowed Iamurri to come home for the game-winning run.