Plate appearances: 97
Total pitches: 363
Length of game: 3 hours, 34 minutes
Weather: 80 degrees and sweltering
It all added up to an exhausting day at Rhoads Stadium for the Alabama softball team and the 3,940 in attendance Saturday for the Crimson Tide’s series finale with Kentucky.
It made for a more miserable day with the result, a 3-2 Kentucky win to give the Wildcats the 2-1 series victory. It’s Alabama’s longest game since a 14-inning, 2-1 loss at LSU in 2011.
Alabama (47-6, 15-6 SEC) needs to win two games against LSU in Baton Rouge next weekend to earn its sixth SEC regular-season championship.
“It was tough,” said Alabama center fielder Elissa Brown, who went 3-for-6 with two stolen bases. “We fought our best and gave it our all. This is a wake-up call. We are going to use this as fuel for LSU. We are going to go in there swinging and ready to fight.”
Entering the weekend, Alabama had lost just once at home. It lost twice in three days and failed to win an SEC series for just the second time this season.
“It’s just unfortunate we couldn’t pull it out, especially with the great crowd all week,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said.
Alabama broke through in the sixth inning, trailing 2-0. Brown led off the inning with a single and stole second for her 40th of the season and 101st of her career. She moved to third on a Bailey Hemphill single and scored on a fielder’s choice for Alabama’s first run to make it a 2-1 deficit.
Reagan Dykes brought home the tying run with a two-out double in the gap in left-center field. In the first two games of the weekend Dykes was hitless.
“I struggled this weekend, obviously, in the first two games,” she said. “I just wanted to come in here today and help my team out. I went back from the past two nights and looked at my at-bats to see what they were getting me out on. It was just timing. I cleared my head, took a deep breath and ‘see a good pitch, hit a good pitch.’”
After Dykes’ game-tying double, Kentucky brought in pitcher Autumn Humes. She shut down the Crimson Tide for seven-plus innings, allowing just one hit, a bunt single, with just two walks.
“Humes did a hell of a job,” Murphy said. “She comes in and pitches seven innings and gives up a bunt single – that’s the key to the whole game. She kept us off the board. Montana (Fouts) was doing her job the whole time. As the home team, we had seven times to win the game with a walk-off. We just couldn’t do it. That was the disappointing thing of it all.”
Fouts relieved Krystal Goodman after just 2 1/3 innings after Kentucky went up 2-0. Fouts pitched 10 2/3 innings, allowing the one run on five hits with seven strikeouts and three walks on 147 pitches.
Kentucky scored the game-winner in the 13th on an Alex Martens RBI single.
Reach Edwin Stanton at email@example.com or at 205-722-0226