Coming off a dominating performance Friday, Alabama softball started off Saturday’s game a little shaky, but a big fourth inning powered the Crimson Tide past Middle Tennessee 12-5.
Friday night in the absence of Montana Fouts, Jaala Torrence pitched a gem to get the victory over LIU, and on Saturday, with Fouts still sidelined by injury, Alabama gave the ball to Alex Salter. Unlike Torrence, Salter had a bit of a rough outing, allowing a solo home run in both the first and the second innings and leaving Alabama down 2-0 beginning the top of the third inning.
Finally, in the top of the third inning, the Alabama offense came to life scoring four runs, bringing nine batters to the plate highlighted by a two-run double by Bailey Dowling who finished the day 2-for-4 with four RBIs.
Alabama’s lead didn’t last long, and neither did Salter’s day in the circle as she was knocked out of the game in the bottom of the third inning after allowing four runners to reach base and allowing another run to cross the plate. Salter’s day finished with just two and one-thirds innings of work allowing four runs on five hits.
Jaala Torrence, fresh off of a complete game shutout against LIU on Friday, came in to replace Salter. Torrence was able to minimize the damage and get out of the third inning allowing just two unearned runs to cross the plate leaving the Crimson Tide down 5-4.
“I thought Jaala came in and did a great job again,” Tide coach Patrick Murphy said. “Did exactly what we needed her to do. When I give the ball to a reliever I say, ‘Leave the score the same.’ She was really, really good today."
The Blue Raiders had Alabama on the ropes until the top of the fourth inning, which saw the Crimson Tide send 14 batters to the plate. Kali Heivilin started off the scoring in the fourth with a two-run homer giving Alabama their lead back at 6-5. Bailey Dowling knocked in the other two of her four RBIs on the day with a two-run single. Alabama would score four more runs thanks to five consecutive walks and a wild pitch to complete the eight-run fourth inning providing a 12-5 lead for the Tide. Middle Tennessee went through four different pitchers during the disaster of an inning.
Both teams would finish the rest of the game scoreless with 12-5 holding up as the final score. Torrence remained hot, keeping the circle warm for Fouts if she is able to return later this postseason, allowing just one hit in four and two-thirds innings and grabbing the win for Alabama. Torrence has now pitched a total of 11 and two-thirds innings of shutout ball in the regional.
With the loss to Alabama, Middle Tennessee will play the winner of the Saturday elimination game between Central Arkansas and LIU. Whoever comes out victorious of that game would face Alabama Sunday at 1 p.m. needing to beat Alabama twice to prevent Alabama from advancing to its 17th NCAA super regional over the past 18 seasons.
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