Goodman Guides Alabama, Homers Power Arizona State
After hearing about what many felt to be a disrespectful eighth seed for the NCAA Softball Tournament for close to a week, Alabama looked to vent a bit Friday evening as it opened up play in the Tuscaloosa Regional against Alabama State.
Led by Elissa Brown, KB Sides and Kaylee Tow, among others, Alabama had little difficulty beginning Regional play in good style, taking a convincing 8-2 win over the Hornets to improve to 53-7 on the season. Chris Steiner-Wilcoxson's Hornets fell to 24-24.
The Tide advanced to face Arizona State, who defeated the Lipscomb Lady Bisons in the Regional opener, on Saturday, while Alabama State fell into the losers bracket game against the Lady Bisons.
Alabama starter Krystal Goodman began the game in shaky fashion in the top of the first inning as the Hornets had three hits and scored a run in the frame. Alabama State scored its sole run on a sacrifice fly by Charlene Castro.
"Credit (the Hornets) for hanging in there and they had a really good start," said Alabama coach Patrick Murphy. "I thought after that first inning, Krystal pitched much better with a little more velocity and better placement."
That seemed to put even a bit more fire in the Crimson Tide as in the bottom half of the inning it sent nine batters to the plate and tallied three runs.
Merris Schroder, Reagan Dykes and Maddie Morgan all had RBIs in the big inning.
After Goodman retired the Hornets in order in the top of the second, the Crimson Tide added two more runs in the bottom half to build its lead to 5-1.
Sides had an RBI double and another run came across when Bailey Hemphill was retired on a fielder's choice.
The home team totally put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth.
After singles by Brown and Sides, Kaylee Tow stepped up and cranked a three-run dinger to center to make the Crimson Tide advantage 8-1.
"Elissa was awesome (in the game) and was on four times with two hits and two walks," said Murphy. "(Sides) had three runs and then Tow with the home run. I said before the game, she looked like the old Tow in batting practice this week. It's a good win to start the regional."
"(The home run) was a shock as I didn't know if it was high enough," added Tow.
Goodman continued to basically coast after this. In the top of the sixth inning, with two outs, Patrick Murphy pulled her and she exited to a thunderous ovation from the Rhoads Stadium crowd. Courtney Gettins entered the circle and collected the final out of the inning on a pop up.
Goodman allowed a run on six hits while striking out two to improve to 11-0 while Justine Jean (12-13) took the loss for the Hornets.
Homers Power Arizona State Past Lipscomb
In Friday's power-heavy regional opener, both Lipscomb senior pitcher Mandy Jordan and Arizona State junior hurler Cielo Meza engaged in a scoreless pitching duel for three innings, but in the top of the fourth, the Lady Bisons used their big bats to break the deadlock.
Senior catcher Sarah Higgins doubled to left with one out, and two batters later, junior first baseman Jenna Pealor cranked a two-run dinger to right centerfield to put Lipscomb up 2-0.
The Sun Devils cut the Lipscomb advantage in half in the bottom of the inning as Kindra Hackbarth doubled and then later Jade Gortarez later hit an RBI-single to center to make the Lady Bisons lead 2-1.
Arizona State used its own power punch to take the lead in the bottom of the fifth.
Yannira Acuna led off the inning with a solo deep shot to center to deadlock the contest at 2-2 and then Kiara Kennedy followed with a homer to left field to put the Sun Devils (34-18) up 3-2.
In the top of the sixth, the Lady Bisons (41-14-1) tied the game again at 3-3 as senior Jordan Fortel took a Meza pitch deep over the right field wall.
In the bottom half, however, Gortarez came through big once again for Trisha Ford's Sun Devils as she hit a solo homer to center to put Arizona State back on top 4-3.
Arizona State's Samantha Mejia retired Lipscomb in order in the top of the seventh inning as the Sun Devils advanced to Saturday's winners contest.
Gortarez had two hits and two RBIs for the Sun Devils while Hackbarth also had two hits for Arizona State.
"I thought (Gortarez) had a hell of a game, both offensively and defensively," said Ford. "We got it done, which is what you want to do on that first game. I'm excited."
Meza improved to 15-9 in collecting the win for the Sun Devils, allowing three runs on four hits in her nearly six innings of work, while Jordan dropped to 18-8.