April 23, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama softball couldn’t capitalize on its scoring opportunities Thursday night against Tennessee, as the Lady Vols held off a late comeback attempt to defeat the Tide, 3-2, in the series opener.
Alabama (36-11, 12-7 SEC) left a total of 13 runners on base in the game, including the bases loaded in the fourth and sixth innings. Jadyn Spencer went 3-4 in the losing effort, including a solo home run in the seventh, while Demi Turner went 2-4 out of the leadoff spot. Leona Lafaele knocked a single through the left side in the sixth inning, extending her hitting streak to a season-high eight games. Alexis Osorio (14-7) took another hard-luck loss in the circle, throwing a complete game on 140 pitches with three runs allowed on four hits.
Tennessee (36-11, 12-7 SEC) held onto an early 1-0 lead and added a bit of breathing room in the top of the sixth on a two-run homer by Annie Aldrete. Starter Erin Gabriel (14-5) held the Tide to just two runs despite giving up seven hits and six walks to earn the win in the circle.
Tennessee scored the first run of the game on an RBI double by Gretchen Aucoin, as she battled to a full count with two outs to blast one to the wall in left-center, scoring Meghan Gregg from first. Alabama went down in order in the first but threatened in the second, putting two in scoring position with one away. A grounder to the left side caught the runner at third in a rundown for out number two and a first-pitch popup in the next at-bat ended the inning with the Tide still trailing 1-0.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning, Alabama missed another opportunity to score as a weak grounder to the pitcher went for out number three to strand the bases loaded and keep it a 1-0 Tennessee lead. Alabama would put runners at first and third with one out in the next inning, but back-to-back flyouts ended the threat as the Tide could not break into the run column, trailing 1-0 heading to the sixth inning.
Tennessee added a pair of runs to its lead in the top of the sixth, as Annie Aldrete hit a two-run homer with two outs in the inning to make it a 3-0 game. Chaunsey Bell drew a 2-0 count to lead off the bottom of the sixth, as the Lady Vol right fielder Rainey Gaffin moved to the circle to pitch. Bell continued the at-bat and drew a walk and, after Kallie Case entered as a pinch runner, Lafaele ulled a single through the left side to put runners at the corners with nobody out. A wild pitch would move both runners up 60 feet and give Alabama its first run of the day, trailing 3-1.
A walk to Danielle Richard in the next at-bat ended Gaffin’s brief outing as Gabriel reentered the game to pitch. Turner would lay down a sacrifice bunt attempt but would end up beating out the bunt single to load the bases with still nobody out. Tennessee would manage to tightrope out of danger however, as three straight popups stranded the bases loaded for Alabama as the Lady Vols took a 3-1 lead into the final inning of regulation.
Tennessee didn’t score in the top of the seventh as Alabama faced a two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh. With one out in the half-inning, Spencer looped a solo home run down the left field line that just stayed fair, drawing the Tide within one run. Alabama would draw a one-out walk, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate, but a pair of strikeouts ended the comeback effort as Tennessee held on to win, 3-2.
Game two of the series is set to start at 6:30 p.m. CT on Friday, April 24. The game will be broadcast online only, exclusively on the SEC Network + on WatchESPN.com. Fans can also listen locally on 95.3 FM or online at 953thebear.com