The moment Caroline Hardy’s bat made contact she knew.
She could just tell by how it felt. That sucker was going to fly, and it did – right over the left-field wall.
It was the University of Alabama sophomore’s first home run of her softball career.
“It kind of felt like an out-of-body experience,” Hardy said. “I rounded first base and was like, ‘I’m actually rounding first base. I’m jogging around all the bases.’ It was pretty great.”
Although it was during the second inning, Hardy’s trip initiated No. 10 Alabama’s 2-0 victory over North Florida at home in Rhoads Stadium
UA head coach Patrick Murphy had a feeling that it was going to be Hardy’s night. During batting practice, Murphy even told Hardy so, right after breaking the news she was getting her second start of the season.
“I really loved Carol Hardy’s home run – it’s the first of her career,” Murphy said. “She’s hit so many in practice. It was her turn.”
The only other run of the night came from another milestone. After waiting for the change-up, freshman Bailey Hemphill sent a shot out to center field to land her first career triple.
Except, she wasn’t supposed to make it that far.
“I got there and was like, ‘Murph, did you send me?’” Hemphill said. “He goes, ‘Not really.’ So I go, ‘Well, I’m here.’”
At least she was safe. The Crimson Tide’s catcher was out of breath by the time she got to third, claiming it was the fastest she has ever run, but it was worth it.
Alabama recorded just three hits. Senior Chandler Dare had the third with a second-inning single. Although North Florida saw four hits and a walk, no one made it to home. Two made it to third.
“It starts on the mound, play good defense and then come up with a couple key hits,” Murphy said.
In the circle, senior Sydney Littlejohn did most of the damage. She notched 10 strikeouts through five innings. She pitched for another batter during the sixth inning, who got on base with a single, before Alexis Osorio stepped in. The junior right-handed struck out five batters.
“We didn’t come out and blow North Florida away, but we scratched and clawed,” Hardy said. “We did what we needed to do to get the win, and I think that what’s important is the win.”