Following Alabama’s loss to Stanford earlier Saturday, Murray State and Chattanooga had an elimination game. That game had a 57 minute lightning delay and went into the 8th inning in a scoreless tie until the Moccasins scored an unearned run for the win. Brooke Parrott pitched 7.2 innings in the win and 30 minutes later had to face the Crimson Tide in a game that started just before 9pm local time.
GAME 5: ALABAMA 6, CHATTANOOGA 2
Patrick Murphy’s Gut® scrambled the starting lineup once again by putting Jenna Johnson at the leadoff spot and starting Savannah Woodard, Aubrey Barnhart, and Dallis Goodnight. Since Johnson had half of the Tide’s two hits against Stanford, I suppose you could call her the “hottest hitter” for Bama. It paid off as the junior touched ‘em all with a solo shot to left field to start the game. It was her first homer since April 3 and first RBI since April 4.
The crowd went wild, the Bama dugout was jumping up and down, the announcers proclaimed greatness, and then... nothing. The next three batters went down in order and the “rally” was dead. There were no more baserunners until the third inning in which Woodard walked, stole second, took third on a Goodnight ground out, and scored on a squeeze bunt by Johnson.
Jaala Torrence started for Alabama and had a 1-2-3 first inning but in the next frame had a single, a walk, and a wild pitch but survived unscathed.
Ally Shipman led off the fourth inning with a double and Kaylee Tow followed with a walk. UTC’s Parrott was clearly out of gas and got the hook. Unfortunately for the Mocs, none of the other pitchers are nearly as good. The new pitcher beaned Barnhart to load the bases for Woodard who hit a sac fly for a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of that frame, it looked like trouble for Torrence as she gave up sharp singles to the first two UTC batters. Murphy did not have anyone in the bullpen so Montana Fouts had to hurriedly warm up. A sacrifice fly put runners at the corners and a wild pitch scored the first run of the game for the Chattanoogies. Murph stuck with JT and she finished the inning. Surprisingly, she would return for the fifth inning and seemed rejuvenated.
It was more small ball in the sixth inning for Bama. After Tow meekly grounded out, Megan Bloodworth singled. Grill pinch ran for her and moved to second on a ground out and to third on a stolen base. Woodard did what she does best this year by walking and then swiping second base. Pinch-hitter Jenna Lord then delivered a single that plated two runs.
By the seventh, the Moxies were just plain worn down. Ashley Prange singled and Bailey Dowling bunted her over. Shipman singled her in for a 6-1 advantage. UTC was forced to change pitchers again and brought in a little used freshman who induced a ground out from Tow.
Torrence finally ran out of steam in the seventh when she allowed the second batter to send a ball over the left field fence. After the next batter singled, Fouts was brought in to slam the door.
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- Bama won this game with small ball. It is a strategy that makes sense because that is how Murphy has always built this team - with slap-and-dashers. It’s not fitting for the likes of Prange, Shipman, and Dowling, but it works for Woodard, Johnson, and Goodnight who all looked better at the plate then they have in some time. Expect those latter three back in the lineup on Sunday.
- This late game had a lot of empty seats at Rhoads. Despite the smaller crowd, the Tide faithful were still pretty raucous and most stayed until the end. Tomorrow’s morning affair will have to compete with Jesus and Justin Thomas.
- Johnson broad smile and energy seemed to spark her teammates and helped keep things loose the whole game.
- I have a theory: Fouts is the leader of this team or at least the person the team all look up to the most. She is an intense and laser-focused competitor. She never smiles during games. Whether she strikes out the side or gives up a grand slam, her expression remains the same. And perhaps that rubs off on the rest of this team - and maybe not in a good way. It’s not Fouts’s fault. That is just how she is. This team needed some relief from the pressure. Johnson might be the key to a turnaround if she can get her teammates to emulate her.
- Is there anyway that the R.E.C. can get Brooke Parrott to transfer to Bama for next season? She is tough.
- I can’t recall the last time Tow had a big hit. Is this how she wants to go out? She is 0-fer the weekend so far.
- Designated hitters Barnhart and Abby Doerr are hitless for the Regional.
- Alabama was the away team in this game and occupied the first base dugout. Oddly, I think it helped... except Tow.
- The game ended at 11:20pm local time.
- JOHNSON - 2 for 3, HR, 2 RBI, Personality
- TORRENCE - WIN, 6.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 ER, 2 K, 3 BB
- SHIPMAN - 2 for 4, 2B, RBI, RUN
- LORD - 2 RBI pinch single
- LSU and Auburn have been eliminated.
- Kentucky defeated 3-seed Virginia Tech, sending them to the losers’ bracket.
- Also going to the losers’ brackets were 13-seed Washington beaten by Texas and #15 Mizzou dropped by Arizona.
- Oklahoma had a tough time with Texas A&M but got the 3-2 win.
UPCOMING ALABAMA SCHEDULE
Alabama now has to defeat Stanford twice to advance to the Super Regional. Due to potential bad weather, the game is moved up to 10am CT. Lose Game 6 and the season is over for the Tide. Such an occurrence would represent the first time Bama has not advanced to a Super.
Friday, May 20:
- GAME 1: Alabama 3, Chattanooga 0
- GAME 2: Stanford 3, Murray State 1
Saturday, May 21:
- GAME 3: Stanford 6, Alabama 0
- GAME 4: Chattanooga 1 Murray State 0 (8 innings)
- GAME 5: Alabama 6 Chattanooga 2
Sunday, May 22
- GAME 6: Stanford vs. Alabama - 10 am CT !! SEC Network
- (If Necessary) Game 6 Rematch - 30 mins after