No matter what you do or how hard you try, sometimes things just don’t go your way.
No. 3 Alabama softball found that out Friday night in the opening game of a series with No. 23 Kentucky at Rhoads Stadium in a 4-1 loss.
Even a few spectacular defensive plays didn’t help to negate a series of mistakes and a lack of offense.
• Two failed stolen base attempts, both for leaving early.
• Missing second base on a force out.
• Three fielding errors.
• Countless pop-ups by Alabama hitters that didn’t leave the infield.
It all added up to a bad night.
“Defensively, you can’t give a good team 24 outs,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “That’s a lot for a pitcher to overcome. We just didn’t play very well.”
Alabama (46-5, 14-5 SEC) got off to a promising start with a leadoff hit from Brown in the first inning. She stole second, but was called out for leaving first base early.
The game remained scoreless until the fourth when Kentucky (31-18, 13-9) loaded the bases with no outs. The Tide thought it had an out earlier when pitcher Montana Fouts fielded a grounder and threw to second for the force. The umpire ruled Claire Jenkins failed to touch the bag for the out.
Reagan Dykes and Fouts got the Tide out of the jam. Dykes picked off the runner at third for the second out and Fouts got a strikeout for the third out.
Alabama wasn’t so fortunate in the fifth.
Again Kentucky loaded the bases with no outs. Jenny Schaper delivered for the Wildcats with a two-run double to break the scoreless tie. UK added one more run for a 3-0 lead.
In the sixth, Kelsee Henson’s RBI single made it 4-0.
Fouts left the game soon after. She took the loss, her second of the season. She gave up four runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Kentucky’s Grace Baalman pitched a complete game and gave up just the one run on six hits.
“You have to turn the page,” Murphy said. “(Saturday) is a different night. We get to play at 8 o’clock in the best stadium in the country on ESPN — this will be a great opportunity for us.
The lone bright spot for Alabama on offense was Bailey Hemphill, who blasted her 21st home run of the season for its only run. Bailey is now tied for second (Kaila Hunt) in school history for most home runs in a single season. Kelly Kretschman had 25 in 1998.
“I didn’t know that, so obviously that’s not very high on my priority list,” Hemphill said. “I’m just trying to get hits when we need them and come through for my team. We know what we have to do going forward. We just have to come at them tomorrow.”
Reach Edwin Stanton at email@example.com or 205-722-0226.