By Justin Smith
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
Alabama softball opened SEC play with a pair of wins against the Missouri Tigers at Rhoads Stadium on Friday.
The Crimson Tide’s 3-1 win in the first game was head coach Patrick Murphy’s 400th SEC win, which is the most in conference history, but his celebration of this feat was short live as the Tide got in trouble early in the second game.
No. 5 Alabama (24-0) found itself in unfamiliar territory in the nightcap as the Missouri Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning, which prompted Murphy to pull starting pitcher Courtney Gettins for Sarah Cornell. Missouri added another run for a 6-0 lead.
Trailing 7-0 in the second inning, Alabama got on the board when Claire Jenkins scored off a Missouri error and an Elissa Brown RBI single to pull the Tide within five runs.
Missouri added another run in the third, but Bailey Hemphill hit her 10th home run of the season to add another run in the bottom of the third to make it 8-3.
Missouri was turned away in the fourth, which opened the door for Alabama. Jenkins connected for a home run and Brown came through with an RBI triple to cut the lead to two runs. Kaylee Tow capitalized off the momentum and hit a home run to tie the game, 8-8.
“From the very first inning, we said we were going to keep chopping,” Tow said. “We said we were going to get them back one at a time. As we went on, we got the big hits. It was just getting one at a time.”
Alabama turned the defensive pressure up in the fifth inning to keep the score tied. Tow and Brown both scored off a Missouri error to give the Tide their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. KB Sides extended the lead with an RBI single to make it 11-8.
UA tacked on three more runs in the sixth to put the game away. The 14 runs are the most Alabama has scored in an SEC game since March 28, 2016.
Cornell (9-0) allowed two runs on eight hits with three strikeouts.
In the Tide’s Game 1 win, Montana Fouts went the distance, allowing one run with seven strikeouts for her ninth win of the season.
Taylor Clark scored off a Missouri error to give UA the early 1-0 lead. Jenkins’ leadoff solo home run in the second made it 2-0.
“I saw the ball very well today,” Jenkins said. “It was like a beach ball. I felt really comfortable in practice. It was just about coming out here and transferring it to the game.”
Jenkins got an RBI single in the sixth for some insurance for Alabama.
“It shows everybody we are never out of a game,” Murphy said. “It was a tale of two games and it shows everybody we are never out of a game no matter what the score is.”
Game 3 of the series is Sunday at 1 p.m.