With two runners on base, no outs and both the game and series on the line Sunday afternoon, University of Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy called over Marisa Runyon for a conference before she stepped into the batter’s box.
Runyon, a senior third baseman, thought Murphy might ask her to bunt.
The coach told the player to swing away.
She stroked a double to the gap in left-center field to drive in two runs, giving the 11th-ranked Crimson Tide a 4-2 victory over No. 8 LSU in front of a sold-out crowd of 3,940 at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama (35-7, 10-5 in SEC play) took two out of three from the Tigers, bouncing back from losing the middle game. LSU fell to 32-9, 8-4 SEC.
The game was tied, 2-all, in the bottom of the fifth. Senior outfielder Chandler Dare singled to right field to lead it off, and freshman center fielder Elissa Brown beat out an infield single.
That put the runners on first and second for Runyon.
Murphy called time.
“He told me he had a good feeling,” Runyon said, “and I was like, ‘I do too.’ The at-bat before I walked, Elissa was on second and I told her I wanted to score her more than anything. I wanted to be in that position.”
After the conference with Murphy, Runyon worked the count to 2-1 before going with a pitch and sending it straight between the LSU center fielder and right fielder. It skidded on the grass and bounded to the fence. By the time LSU got the ball back into the infield, Runyon was on second and both runners had come home.
“I think she showed signs up really coming out of it (in a victory over Lipscomb) at Florence last Wednesday night, and then she’s had a couple of really good at-bats,” Murphy said. “Having her here for four years, I can kind of see when something good is about to happen and she’s barely missing things.”
Murphy coached aggressively to give Alabama an early lead. Catcher Reagan Dykes singled over third base with one out in the bottom of the second. Murphy called for a steal to get her into scoring position.
“I just felt like we had to do something different. She’s not the typical stolen-base girl on our team, and she doesn’t even have the green light (to steal without a signal),” Murphy said.
Freshman outfielder Gabby Callaway singled to right and Dykes got home around a tag attempt for a 1-0 Alabama lead.
LSU answered and upped the ante in the top of the third, scoring two runs. A single and two walks loaded the bases, and LSU scored on a passed ball and Constance Quinn’s squeeze bunt for a 2-1 advantage.
Alabama took advantage of an LSU mistake in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. Dykes reached on an error, took second on Mari Cranek’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a single to left by shortstop Sydney Booker.
Winning pitcher Alexis Osorio (18-4) battled to keep Alabama in it, holding the Tigers to one earned run on five hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
Sydney Smith, who beat Alabama on Saturday, took the loss in relief of starter Allie Walljasper. Smith gave up two runs on three hits without recording an out.
Alabama will host UAB on Tuesday at 6 p.m. The Crimson Tide will travel to Tennessee next weekend for a three-game series.