Alexis Osorio battled the Tennessee Lady Vols on Monday night at Rhoads Stadium.
She battled the umpire.
Carrying Alabama softball’s postseason hopes – or at least its likely path in the national championship tournament – on her shoulders, the Crimson Tide’s senior ace pitcher even battled herself.
Osorio won, and so did 17th-ranked Alabama, which staved off a sweep with a 4-0 victory in the final contest of the three-game series.
The senior from Riverside, California, carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. She kept working when she didn’t get a couple of third strikes called on close offerings. She struck out seven batters and overcame her propensity to give up free bases, issuing three walks. She yielded just one hit.
The shutout was the 27th in Osorio’s career, moving her into third place all-time at UA in that category.
“It was kind of a tight (strike) zone tonight, but I still had to continue to work through it,” she said. “I definitely needed it. We needed this win, too.
“I would say this is one of my best starts of this year. I just honestly really needed this.”
Alabama (28-15, 8-10 in SEC play) is fighting to finish strong enough to host an NCAA regional for the 14th straight year. A victory over No. 7 Tennessee (40-9 10-8), even after dropping the first two games of the series, probably kept UA’s hopes alive with two weekends to go in the regular season.
Patrick Murphy, the Crimson Tide’s coach, had the team practice hitting against live pitching for more than 2 hours indoors Sunday while rain poured outside.
“It was nothing but at-bats,” he said. “I really think it helped us.”
Alabama took the lead in the bottom of the first inning. Outfielder Merris Schroder reached on a fielder’s choice for out two and Caroline Hardy lined a single to right field to bring her around to make it 1-0.
“Our motto today was just fight and really battle,” Hardy said. “I feel like we were hitting the ball hard and battling and having good at-bats.”
In the third, second baseman Demi Turner led off with a single, moved to second on a groundout and scored on Schroder’s single up the middle. Schroder advanced to second on the throw home, which arrived too late to get Turner, and scored when shortstop Sydney Booker tripled to right field to increase the lead to 3-0.
UA gave itself an insurance run in the sixth. Booker drew a leadoff walk, stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. She scored on a sacrifice fly by pinch hitter Gabby Callaway.
Osorio improved to 11-7. Tennessee starter Matty Moss (17-4) allowed three runs on four hits in 2 1/2 innings.
Alabama will visit Georgia in a three-game series starting Friday.
Reach Tommy Deas at email@example.com or at 205-722-0224.