By Justin Smith
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
It was a rough night for Georgia pitchers.
The Bulldogs issued 10 walks and Alabama stole nine bases — one short of a team record — as the Crimson Tide cruised to a 7-1 softball victory Saturday at Rhoads Stadium.
It was the Tide’s eighth SEC win of the season, pushing their overall record to 40-4.
While Georgia struggled in the circle, Alabama’s Sarah Cornell was lights out.
Cornell (16-1) allowed just one earned run on two hits and struck out five with four walks in the complete game.
Cornell said the support and energy of the fans (3,716 attendance) gave the Crimson Tide a boost.
“The fans really brought into our game and made us more excited about everything,” Cornell said. “I think it was awesome for us. It got us ready to play and we came out with a win.”
The Tide took the early 1-0 lead in the first inning with a Bailey Hemphill single that scored Elissa Brown. The Bulldogs responded in the second to tie the game 1-1. Brown helped the Tide get back on top by scoring another run in the second on a Kaylee Tow hit.
Alabama’s Merris Schroder hit her ninth home run of the season to give the Tide a commanding 3-1 lead, but the biggest inning was yet to come.
The Bulldogs brought in Lauren Mathis in the third to replace starting pitcher Mary Avant. The move didn’t turn out well for Georgia. In the fourth, she walked three consecutive Tide batters. Then Maddie Morgan cleared the bases with a three-run double to make it a 6-1 lead.
Georgia native Skylar Wallace brought Morgan in on the next at-bat with a single to make it 7-1. Wallace said Alabama took advantage of what the Georgia pitchers gave them.
“Their pitchers were throwing a lot of different stuff but they pretty much came at us the same way,” Wallace said. “We just stayed within ourselves and made them throw pitches we wanted to see.”
Georgia switched pitchers again, bringing in Madison McPherson in hopes of getting things rolling. Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said he thinks the Crimson Tide has the advantage for the rest of the series.
“We got to see three of their pitchers and we took advantage as they gave up 10 walks,” Murphy said. “We just took advantage of their wildness, which is uncharacteristic on their part.”
The second game of the series is Sunday at 6 p.m.