That’s all the time the University of Alabama softball team had to shake off the program’s worst home defeat in 21 years of play.
The ninth-ranked Crimson Tide lost 14-0 to South Carolina on Sunday in stunning fashion, its first loss at Rhoads Stadium this season. The margin of defeat matched the worst in school history.
Alabama (30-4 overall, 7-2 in SEC play) shook it off to take a 5-2 victory in the second game of the doubleheader to win the series.
In between games, UA soul-searched.
“It was pretty embarrassing,” said senior outfielder Chandler Dare. “It was bad. There is no excuse for it. We weren’t ready.”
The first game ended, fittingly, with an Alabama strikeout at 1:49 p.m. By 1:50, the scoreboard has been reset and head coach Patrick Murphy had the team in a circle in left field. He spoke for about two minutes.
“Flush it,” he told the team. “Get it over with.”
Murphy didn’t see it coming, but he knows those kind of games happen.
“It’s one of those God-forsaken times in the game of softball and baseball,” he said. “If you do it long enough, you’re going to go through it.
“It’s just one of those that snowballed.”
After the postgame team meeting broke up, players went into their clubhouse. They ate catered turkey sandwiches.
“After something like that, nobody says anything,” Dare said. “People are talking, it’s just that we’re trying not to talk about that.”
Murphy went to the dugout and mulled over his lineup for the second game.
“What do you do?” he said. “You can’t move anybody up or down, because nobody did anything.”
In the clubhouse, assistant coach Alyson Habetz offered some advice on how to better approach South Carolina pitcher Nickie Blue, who had held UA to just two hits, both by second baseman Demi Turner.
Habetz also challenged the team.
“Basically, just you guys have to decide you want to win,” said outfielder Gabby Callaway. “We can beat anybody, we just didn’t show up.”
Dare tried to put the loss behind her.
“I just kind of went to my locker and just sat there thinking about what I was going to do next, the next pitch, the next whatever,” she said.
Players began to emerge from the clubhouse by 2:02 p.m. The grounds crew was watering the infield. Players put their cleats back on and began to make their way toward the dugout.
Across the field, South Carolina players kicked around a hacky sack, laughing and joking.
Alabama players weren’t laughing.
“It’s hard to lose by one and it just doesn’t seem real when they score 14 runs and we get one runner in scoring position,” Callaway said. “We just kind of put that in a box. You can’t get into everything that went wrong; there’s too much.”
At 2:15, the umpires returned. Two minutes later, the coaches met with the officials at home plate to exchange lineups.
At 2:19, Alabama players ran out onto the field. Three minutes later, the 33 minutes were up. Ready or not, Alabama had to play. Senior Sydney Littlejohn threw a strike to start the second game.
The turnaround wasn’t immediate or magical. South Carolina (21-11, 2-6 SEC) took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning on a single and back-to-back doubles by Kaylee Snaer and Mackenzie Boesel.
Singles by Callaway and Dare sparked UA in the bottom of the inning, and Alabama got an error-aided run to cut the lead. Most importantly, UA chased a tiring Blue.
In the fourth, Alabama loaded the bases and tied the game on a walk. Turner grounded out to drive in another run to give Alabama its first lead of the day at 3-2.
In the bottom of the sixth, UA added two insurance runs, with Callaway hitting an RBI double and scoring.
Littlejohn (11-1) held the Gamecocks to six hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
In the first game, the hitting was anemic and there were no real bright spots on defense or for the pitching. Alabama had two errors that were costly enough that only eight of South Carolina’s 14 runs were earned. Pitchers Alexis Osorio (16-2) and Madi Moore allowed a combined 13 hits and eight walks.
Alabama will host Kent State on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“We’re not where we want to be,” Dare said. “We have a long way to go. We just see it as an opportunity to get better.”
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.