OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – Oh, mercy.
The last time it faced Florida pitcher Kelly Barnhill it wasn’t a pretty sight for Alabama softball.
When the Crimson Tide saw her again Saturday it was brutal.
Alabama knocked the All-American out of the game after just 2/3 of an inning and crushed Florida 15-3 in a five-inning mercy-rule elimination game at the Women’s College World Series. The Crimson Tide was scheduled to face Arizona later Saturday night.
“Just see the ball down, basically from the knee cap to the thigh,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said of the game plan against Barnhill. “I said if you got that pitch swing with intent and really mean business.”
The numbers were staggering:
— Worst loss for the Gators this season
— Third most runs allowed by UF in school history.
— Most runs given up by UF since 18 in 1999.
In her previous three appearances against Alabama (19 2/3 innings), Barnhill allowed seven runs. On Saturday she was tagged for six runs and didn’t even get out of the first inning, although she did re-enter the game in the fourth for one pitch before leaving for the dugout in her final game as a Gator.
“Kelly had a great career at the University of Florida and there is no doubt she is a great pitcher… just to get the momentum on our side was big,” said Alabama’s Kaylee Tow, who hit a three-run home run in the first inning to put up the Crimson Tide’s first runs of the game.
Merris Schroder added to the lead later in the first with another three-run homer for UA to make it 6-0. The rout was on after that.
Alabama scored four more runs in the third inning and five more in the fourth to make it 15-0.
Part of the five-run fourth inning included a three-run home run from Bailey Hemphill, which broke the school record for home runs (26) and RBIs (82) in a season.
There was some extra motivation for Alabama’s thrashing of Florida, other than facing elimination. Alabama swept Florida in a three-game series in Gainesville this season but lost in the SEC Tournament title game.
When the postseason seedings came around, Florida was No. 5 while Alabama was No. 8, which didn’t sit well with Tide players.
Alabama’s 15 runs on 12 hits were more than enough for starting pitcher Sarah Cornell, who allowed three runs on seven hits through five innings. Before Saturday, the SEC Pitcher of the Year had just one postseason start (Arizona State on April 19) and went just 3 2/3 innings.
Cornell showed little rust through four innings, but did give up two home runs in the fifth.
“That was easily the best offensive game we’ve had,” Murphy said. “Today we had a lot of two-out RBIs, which is a killer in postseason softball. The home runs obviously. I looked up once and we had like three hits and six runs. When you hit three-run home runs you are going to score in bunches.”
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) June 2, 2019