The weather wasn’t the only thing that was cold at Rhoads Stadium on Tuesday night.
The Alabama softball team struggled to heat up offensively against South Alabama. Fortunately for the Crimson Tide, the Jaguars were cold, too.
UA relied on a solid pitching effort from Sarah Cornell and found a few hot spots on offense to beat South Alabama 5-2 with one more non-conference game left to play before SEC play starts. Alabama welcomes Mississippi Valley State on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and then hosts Missouri in the SEC opener on Friday at 6:30 p.m.
“I think we need to compete a little harder, especially with two strikes,” Tide head coach Patrick Murphy said of the inconsistency on offense. “Just don’t give in as easy and compete your butt off. Most of the time in baseball and softball it’s the competitor that gets the job done. It doesn’t have to be a pretty swing. I’d rather have gritty than pretty.”
No. 5 Alabama (21-0) has scored just 17 runs in its last five games with 24 total hits. With SEC play on the horizon Alabama is looking to see some better results.
“Winning is great, but there comes a point to where you get complacent,” said Tide catcher Reagan Dykes, who led UA at the plate Tuesday with a 3-for-3 effort. “The past couple of weekends we have been cruising through thinking that we can just walk on the field and win and not give the energy and the competition and the fight we gave earlier in the year. Going into tomorrow and especially into SEC we are going to have to bring that back.”
Cornell allowed two runs on just three hits to earn the win. She got into trouble in the first inning, with a walk, a single and a wild pitch that allowed a run to score. She settled down over the next three innings before giving up a solo home run in the fifth inning.
“It was a little hard to get warmed up,” said Cornell, who improved to 8-0. “I just tried to do my best with the weather and everything.”
Bailey Hemphill put Alabama on top 2-1 in the bottom of the first with a two-run home run bomb off the scoreboard in left field. But the offense was flat after that, getting few opportunities to score off South Alabama pitcher Alexis Reid.
UA pushed across two runs in the bottom of the fifth with the help of a leadoff double from Skylar Wallace, who later scored on catcher interference. An infield hit by Kaylee Tow brought home Elissa Brown for another run to make it 4-2.
Dykes led off the sixth with a single and later scored an insurance run for a 5-2 UA lead.
Montana Fouts pitched the final two innings and allowed just one hit to seal the win.