A strikeout here, A walk there.
A ball. A strike. Another ball.
That’s what kind of outing it was for University of Alabama ace softball pitcher Alexis Osorio on Friday night at Rhoads Stadium.
She battled the Auburn Tigers. She battled the strike zone. She battled herself.
Then head coach Patrick Murphy went toe to toe with home plate umpire Robbie Guest, and got ejected.
None of that mattered in the end, as No. 9 Auburn broke open a scoreless tie in the top of the ninth inning to take a 3-0 victory over the 14th-ranked Crimson Tide in front of a school-record crowd of 4,015.
Alabama fell to 39-14, 11-10 in SEC play. Auburn improved to 44-8, 16-6 in the league. The series will resume Saurday at 7 p.m.
Osorio held Auburn to just one hit through seven innings. She struck out 18 batters, but walked 11, throwing 90 strikes and 94 balls.
Finally, she gave out. Reliever Sydney Littlejohn held Auburn in check for a while, but defensive lapses handed Auburn the game.
Kasey Cooper was hit by a pitch with one out in the top of the ninth to start the sequence that sunk Alabama. Carlee Wallace hit a single, and Cooper scored when Haley Fagan reached on an error. With two outs, first baseman Kendall Veach doubled in two runs to gave the Tigers some insurance.
The end was a contrast to how it had gone to that point.
Through five innings, Auburn had put exactly two balls in play, one of them for the lone hit. The rest was all strikeouts and walks for Osorio.
It wasn’t until the sixth that she went an entire inning without issuing at least one walk. She struck out two batters and retired the third on a pop-up, the third ball in play for the Tigers.
That didn’t mean things went smoothly through those first five innings. Auburn had chances.
In the second, it went like this: strikeout, walk, strikeout, walk, strikeout. Osorio stranded runners on second and third.
In the fourth, outfielder Alyssa Rivera got a leadoff single for the Tigers. She advanced to second on a walk, but with two outs (via strikeout, of course), Alabama catcher Reagan Dykes caught her off base with a throw to second, which turned into an out when Rivera was tagged out trying to slide into third.
The fifth went like this: walk, strikeout, walk, strikeout, walk to load the bases, strikeout.
In the seventh, Osorio changed up the order: strikeout, strikeout, walk, walk, strikeout.
The end of her night came when she walked Auburn’s leadoff batter to start the eighth inning and threw two balls to the next one. Murphy brought Littlejohn out of the bullpen, and then UA’s coach got ejected for arguing balls and strikes after the relief pitcher didn’t get a call.
The Tigers got runners to second and third with two outs before Littlejohn struck out pinch hitter Jenna Abbot.
Alabama got a few chances, too, but didn’t come through to give Osorio any support. Dykes singled with one out in the second and advanced on a single by shortstop Sydney Booker. They moved up on a groundout to give UA runners on second and third, but a grounder to the pitcher ended the threat.
Outfielder Chandler Dare singled with two outs in the bottom of the fifth and turned it into a de facto double on an Auburn error in left field. Another groundout to the pitcher, however, left her stranded.