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Crimson Tide Softball: Alabama Drops Final Home Series To Kentucky

It was the final home stand of the season for Alabama and the Crimson Tide ran into a hot and feisty Kentucky team. The #22 Wildcats came into Tuscaloosa on a high after sweeping three from top-15 Auburn and run-ruling Eastern Kentucky.

TUESDAY

Alabama 6 Belmont 4

Bama beat the Bruins in a game played in Cullman, AL. Read all about it here.

FRIDAY

Kentucky 4 Alabama 1

Bailey Hemphill’s round-tripper was the only offense for the Tide in a lethargic opener. Both teams had six hits (3 by Hemphill) but Alabama had an uncharacteristic 3 fielding errors by shortstop Claire Jenkins paired with two base-runner blunders by Elissa Brown for leaving the base too early. Montana Fouts was mowing down Wildcats but two fourth inning errors forced her into a long inning and seemed to take a lot out of her. Thanks to an out at home and a pick off at third, Fouts escaped the inning. She would not be so lucky in the fifth. A UK walk, single and error loaded the bases. A double and a sac fly made it 3-0 bad guys. Alabama going down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame put Fouts right back out there and she gave up a fourth run and had to be relieved by Krystal Goodman. Outside of Hemphill, the Tide had no hits after the third inning.

SATURDAY

Alabama 3 Kentucky 1

Bama got back on the winning side but needed a little help from the coach Patrick Murphy since the men in blue were giving them no help. The home plate umpire was making some horrendous ball-strike calls that led to Murphy’s ejection.

His removal from the game sparked the Tide to turn a 1-0 deficit into a three run inning and an eventual win. Sarah Cornell (W, 19-1) was splendid in the circle tossing a four-hit complete game. Her only mistake was a sixth inning solo home run to All-American lock Abbey Cheek. Cornell struck out the first two batters in the seventh and, following a double, struck out the final hitter to secure the win.

SUNDAY

Kentucky 3 Alabama 2 - 13 innings

A sellout crowd of 3,940 packed Rhoads Stadium for Senior Day, the final regular season home game. Unfortunately, the spark from the night before and the good vibrations of the pre-game festivities did not carry over to the game. Kentucky scored 1 in the first on a solo home run off starter Krystal Goodman. More ineptitude from the umpires led to a huge second run for UK in the third.

That runner would eventually score and make it a 2-0 Wildcats advantage and Goodman would be lifted for Fouts. In the bottom of 6th, two singles and a fielder’s choice RBI put Bama on the scoreboard. Reagan Dykes followed that up with a game-tying double but that was the end of the offense for Alabama. The Crimson Tide would not get another hit until a one-out single in the bottom of 13th.

In hindsight, it might have not been the best idea to remove Goodman in the third inning since Fouts would have to go another 10.2 innings. Although the Tide freshman pitched very well into extra innings, all it took was one hit. In the 13th, UK put a runner on with one out. Murphy elected to walk Abbey Cheek (who has an otherworldly BA of .453, slugging of .977, and OPS of 1.597). Maybe not such a bad move but it put a runner in scoring position. The next batter stroked the go-ahead single and the Tide could not answer.

WRAP UP

Something seems off about this Crimson Tide team. It appeared to start about midway through the Belmont game - in which they took the foot off the gas and blew a 6-0 lead (but still won 6-4). Murphy and the home crowd managed to light a spark in Game 2 of the UK series but it didn’t last. Is it fatigue, apathy, fear? While teams like Kentucky are surging, the Tide seems to be weakening.

CJMaury keenly observed that Kaylee Tow appears to be so focused on getting a walk that she isn’t the hitter we need her to be. She had one hit, a single, in the three game series to go with 3 strikeouts. She stranded 7 runners on base for the week. Claire Jenkins and Maddie Morgan went “0fer the week” - 0 hits in a combined 21 at bats over the past week.

Alabama holds a precarious lead over LSU in conference standings. Ole Miss has come out of nowhere to join the fight. The SEC scheduling is an odd one. Bama did not play Auburn or Ole Miss this season. Yet, there are only so many 3-game series match-ups that can be planned in a 14-team conference and a 24-game schedule.

SEC RECORDS:

Alabama 15-6
LSU 14-7
Ole Miss 13-7

STATS OF THE WEEK

Reagan Dykes moved into a tie with Kendall Dawson for the most runners caught stealing for a career by a Crimson Tide catcher with 44. Hemphill now has 21 round trippers and a 65 RBI - the most among players in Power-5 schools. Stolen bases: Bama 5, UK 2.

MVP

Guess who? Bailey Hemphill was an outstanding against UK, going 6 for 8 with three walks against Kentucky but only scored one run thanks to the weak batters behind her. She also hit the Tide’s only home run for the week. KB Sides had a hit in all four games this past week and stole 4 bases. Despite her base-running errors, Elissa Brown 6 for 14 and stole 5 bases on the week. She continues her stellar play in the outfield.

NEXT

There is no midweek game this week. All that remains on the regular season schedule is a 3-game set in Red Stick against the No. 7 ranked LSU Tigers.

This Alabama team needs something to rally them. The series in Baton Rouge will likely decide the regular season champions and propel the winner into the post-season. Following the 3-game series is the SEC Tournament. For Alabama and a few other SEC teams (stop me if you’ve hard this one before), the tournament means very little, other than bragging rights. They are basically guaranteed a high-seeded post-season birth. It wouldn't be such a bad thing if Bama had an early exit from the SEC Tournament and took the time to rest and regroup.

May 3 (Fri) 6:00pm CT at LSU ESPN2
May 4 (Sat) 5:00pm CT at LSU SEC Network
May 5 (Sun) 1:00pm CT at LSU SEC Network

Check SEC Network+ later in the week for online airings in your area. All games can be heard on Radio: 93.3 FM.

If you are an Alabama softball fan, you probably recognize Murphy’s long time lieutenant Alyson “Aly” Habetz. Flosoftball.com posted a nice article about her written by longtime former Bama beat writer Tommy Deas.

The Untold Story Of Alabama’s Aly Habetz

She attended college on a basketball scholarship. She had planned on becoming a lawyer when her playing days were over.

So it’s something of an oddity that Alyson Habetz ended up being a softball coach. Now 45 years old, she enters her 19th season as an assistant at the University of Alabama...

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