The situation for Alabama couldn’t have been better.
With one out and the bases loaded, the Crimson Tide’s leading home run hitter came to the plate Sunday in the championship softball game of the Tuscaloosa Regional at Rhoads Stadium.
The Crimson Tide was staring at a 4-1 deficit to Arizona State and needed a spark.
Bailey Hemphill provided it.
She blasted the second pitch she saw over the left-field wall for a grand slam to tie the game. The Crimson Tide won 9-8, advancing to this week’s Super Regional, also in Tuscaloosa.
“I thought I was going to pass out when Bailey hit the grand slam,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “It was just a great game for our fans, TV, (media). It was just a hell of a championship game.”
The home run was the 23rd of the season for Hemphill, which is just two shy of the school, single-season record (Kelly Kretschman, 25 in 1998). The blast was also her third grand slam of the season.
“The pitcher threw it down the middle and my hand went up in the air before she even swung because I knew it was gone,” said Alabama outfielder KB Sides, who was on second base and got a good look at the homer.
Hemphill, who also leads the Tide with 76 RBIs, which ranks fourth on UA’s single-season list, played a big part in last weekend’s regional sweep.
She went 4-for-7 with five walks and seven RBIs. She needs just four RBIs to tied Marisa Runyon for the UA single-season mark of 80, set in 2005.
It was a pretty good weekend for Tide leadoff hitter Elissa Brown, who went 6-for-9 in the regional, including a 3-for-3 day against Arizona State on Sunday. She scored six runs and stole four bases in five attempts. She has 46 stolen bases this season, sixth on the program’s career list.