Who needs bats?
The eighth-ranked University of Alabama softball team, at times, seems determined to explore just how long it can keep winning without much hitting.
Such was the case in the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader at Rhoads Stadium, when the Crimson Tide defeated Winthrop, 1-0. Alabama (26-2) allowed itself some offensive punch in the second game, a 9-0 mercy-rule victory over Georgia Southern, but really didn’t need it.
Alabama ran its winning streak to 19 behind a 14-strikeout, four-hit gem from Sydney Littlejohn against Winthrop and a combined no-hitter from Alexis Osorio and Madi Moore to shut down Georgia Southern.
“We always say if the other team doesn’t score, you’re never going to lose,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said.
The question against Winthrop (11-14) was whether either team would ever score. Littlejohn kept pounding the strike zone until the Alabama bats showed a brief spark. In the bottom of the seventh inning, a hit batter, two bunt singles and a Chandler Dare walk-off single to right field produced the lone run.
Littlejohn (9-0) remained undaunted.
“It’s just one of those where you have to keep going at hitters,” she said. “Obviously what we were doing was working. It’s just staying in that routine, staying comfortable and continuing to go at hitters and staying ahead (in the count).
“I trust our hitters. It may take seven innings sometimes. It may take one inning.”
Keleigh Romine (2-4) had Alabama popping out on off-speed pitches. She held UA to five hits while walking six batters.
“Luckily we found a way at the end of the game to do something,” second baseman Demi Turner said. “Very slow to make an adjustment, which we’ve got to do a better job of noticing and doing that. You see the first three batters in front of you popping up, you’ve got to make an adjustment then.”
UA jumped on Georgia Southern (12-11) in the first inning, with Turner converting a hit-by-pitch, a Dare single and a passed ball into a run, and Dare scoring on a squeeze bunt by Merris Schroder. Alabama flashed more speed in the second, with catcher Carrigan Fain and outfielder Elissa Brown both scoring on the same wild pitch.
Turner’s bases-loaded triple in the third inning and a two-RBI double from Sydney Booker in the fourth gave Alabama a more comfortable margin.
Osorio (14-1) tossed a perfect three innings, striking out seven, and Moore made her first appearance since sustaining a concussion on March 4. She walked one batter and hit one in two innings with two strikeouts.
“It’s really cool to see Madi go out there after however-many days it was,” Murphy said. “She didn’t look scared. She looked fine.”
The no-hitter was the fourth for the Crimson Tide this season. All three pitchers have had at least a piece of one, with Osorio and Moore now pitching in tandem for two of them.
With pitching like Alabama’s, hits and runs almost seem a luxury, but the head coach still worries. He knows how crucial it was to have Littlejohn at her best against Winthrop.
“It not, we probably would have lost that game,” Murphy said. “We needed every bit of her and her 14 strikeouts.”
And while it can’t lose if the other team doesn’t score, Alabama can’t win if it doesn’t. Someone has to get on base for that to happen.
So who needs bats?
“We do,” Murphy said. “You can’t steal first base.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.