MOBILE – Alabama softball opened its 2018 season with a close win over South Alabama, edging out the Jaguars 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel Thursday night at Jaguar Field.
Both Alabama (1-0) and South Alabama (0-1) tallied three hits, with the Crimson Tide’s lone run coming off an RBI groundout from sophomore Gabby Callaway in the top of the third to score senior Sydney Booker. Senior Alexis Osorio (1-0) earned the win for the Crimson Tide in the circle, tossing a complete-game shutout with eight strikeouts.
Sophomore Elissa Brown drew a walk to open the top of the first, but was called out for leaving early on the ensuing steal attempt. After a strikeout, sophomore Bailey Hemphill dropped a two-out single into right field for the Tide’s first hit of the season but a strikeout kept her stranded at first to end the half-inning.
Booker led off the top of the third with a bunt single, turning it back to the top of the order. Brown legged out a bunt single to put two on base and freshman Maddie Morgan laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the pair into scoring position. An intentional walk to Hemphill loaded the bases and a groundout by Callaway moved the runners up 60 feet to score Alabama’s first run of the day before a strikeout ended the half-inning with the Tide now leading 1-0.
In the bottom of the fourth with a runner on first and two out, a South Alabama single broke up Osorio’s no-hit bid and put runners at the corners. A lineout to junior Merris Schroder in left field ended the inning to keep it a 1-0 game for Alabama.
With two on and two out in the top of the fifth, the Jaguars turned to its bullpen as junior Alexis Reid stepped into the circle. A high fly ball to center field ended the frame with the Tide still holding a one-run lead. In the bottom half of the inning, the Jaguars put two on base with two out but Osorio froze the runner looking with a strikeout to end the inning and keep the score 1-0.
Freshman Kaylee Tow led off the top of the sixth with a double in the gap, her first career hit with the Crimson Tide. A groundout advanced her to third but a hard lineout and a groundout kept her stranded 60 feet away
Looking to add some insurance in the top of the seventh, Brown reached on a fielding error to lead off the inning and immediately stole second on the next pitch. Following a strikeout, Hemphill drew her second intentional walk of the night to put two on base with one out. On what looked to be an RBI single up the middle from senior Rachel Bobo, the umps convened and called her out of the box to nullify the run and put two outs on the board. A lineout then ended the inning, as the Tide could not add to its 1-0 lead.
In the bottom of the seventh, Osorio retired the Jaguars in order with three-straight groundouts to preserve the one-run win in Thursday’s season opener.
Alabama continues opening weekend Friday afternoon at the Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores, Ala., facing Penn State at 11 a.m. CT and Lamar at 1 p.m. CT.