In the opening game of the Women’s College World Series, Alabama’s offense was unable to keep up with one of the country’s most prolific offenses this season, losing to Tennessee 10-5 Thursday afternoon.
Alabama had their hands full with one of the nation’s best offenses as well as one of the best pitching staffs in the nation led by first team All-American Ashley Rodgers. Throughout the NCAA Tournament, pitching and defense has been the Crimson Tide’s staple, combined with a struggling offense that has thrived with getting the timely hit when needed to take them to victory, but Thursday the pitching and defense failed to show up.
Head coach Patrick Murphy opted to give Jaala Torrence the start in the circle to try and cool down the bats of Tennessee. Torrence came into the Women’s College World Series with a ton of momentum, putting the Crimson Tide pitching staff on her back in the absence of Montana Fouts during the regionals and most of the super regionals. Thursday, Torrence’s run of dominance in the NCAA tournament finally came to an end starting in the second inning after a two-out rally from the Lady Vols made the score 4-0. Alabama would bounce back in the top of the third getting two of the runs back on RBI singles from Ally Shipman and Kenleigh Cahalan cutting the lead in half. Tennessee was able to turn right around in the bottom half of the inning and get the two runs back with a home run from Jamison Brockenbrough ending Torrence’s afternoon in the circle. Torrence finished with just two and one-thirds innings pitched allowing six runs on six hits.
Alabama decided not to use Fouts despite her returning to the circle in the super regionals last weekend and turned to Alex Salter. Salter didn’t have much success either, allowing four runs on three hits over just one inning in the circle. Lauren Esman finished the game off for Alabama pitching two and two-thirds of scoreless innings allowing just two hits.
Despite coming into Thursday’s game struggling offensively, Alabama performed well against one of the elite pitching staffs in the country, scoring five runs on seven hits, but unfortunately was not enough to overcome the 10 runs scored by Tennessee.
With the loss Alabama falls into the loser’s bracket and will play the loser of No.1 Oklahoma and No. 9 Stanford Friday at 6 p.m.
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