Six times the Alabama softball team had come to bat with runners in scoring position Sunday, and six times the Crimson Tide had failed.
Bailey Hemphill had settled for a walk the first time she had such an opportunity. Not again.
UA’s first baseman ripped a bases-loaded single up the middle in the bottom of the seventh inning to drive in two runs and give 15th-ranked Alabama a 3-2 walk-off victory over Ole Miss in front of a crowd of 3,104 at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama (22-8, 3-3 in SEC play) pulled out the series finale after wasting opportunities all afternoon. The Crimson Tide gave itself one more chance in the final inning after trailing from the start.
Shortstop Sydney Booker roped a double to left field to lead off the seventh. Third baseman Claire Jenkins was hit by a pitch. Center fielder Elissa Brown put down a perfect bunt a few inches inside the third-base line and was safe at first when Ole Miss failed to get the lead runner out with a throw to third.
“I knew I had to get it down,” Brown said. “That’s my job. I was excited to do that.”
That loaded the bases for freshman Kaylee Tow, who hit a sharp grounder to second base. The Rebels threw home to prevent the run, leaving the bases still loaded for Hemphill with one out.
“I got the adrenaline going,” Hemphill said, “and I wanted to come through for the team, just get at least one run to tie it up at least.”
The sophomore slugger did better than that. She jumped on an inside pitch and drive it through the infield. The tying run scored easily and Brown, Alabama’s fastest player, came home standing up as a desperate throw sailed high.
“If I’m on second I’m scoring,” Brown said. “Especially in that situation, there’s no doubt about it.”
Hemphill knew the outcome was at stake while she stood in the batter’s box.
“Just a little pressure,” she said.
Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a couple of singles and a groundout and added another run in the second when Kylan Becker tripled and scored. Alabama freshman outfielder Kaylee Tow hit a solo home run in the bottom of the third, but that accounted for all of UA’s offense until the end.
“You’ve been here many times where you hit the ball on the nose 12 times right at people and you don’t get anything for it,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “It was kind of looking that way.”
Junior pitcher Courtney Gettins (10-2) scattered six hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Kaitlin Lee (2-5) took the loss in relief.
Murphy was happy to see his team come through after playing poorly in losing to the Rebels (16-12, 2-7 SEC) the day before.
“You’ve got a great crowd and you don’t do anything for them, it’s very disappointing to me,” he said. “To come back and get a win today was nice. They made a lot of noise.”
Alabama will visit Kentucky next weekend.
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.