Alabama catcher Molly Fichtner hitting her three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning in Alabama’s 14-6 win over Missouri. (Photo courtesy of UA Athletics)
After splitting the first two games of the series, both showcased on ESPNU, the No. 4 Crimson Tide softball team took advantage of a worn-down Chelsea Thomas pitching for No. 7 Missouri and won the Sunday rubber match 14-6 on 11 hits.
“That’s better,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “I thought our hitters really took it to them. To score 14 against probably one of the top three pitchers in the country is just something else.
“I thought everybody battled hard. We took the walks when they gave them to us and then we hit good pitches when they gave those to us.”
Alabama ended the game one inning early in the bottom of the sixth when center fielder Haylie McCleney walked in Jackey Branham from third for the 14th run, invoking thee eight-run mercy rule.
Alabama got some runs from power, too, like a three-run home run from catcher Molly Fichtner in the bottom of the first to give the Tide a 4-1 lead after one inning. The four-run rally that followed in the bottom of the second started with a one-out triple in the right-center gap from senior right fielder Keima Davis.
Alabama won the series-opener over Missouri 4-1 Friday night before dropping Game Two 9-4.
The Crimson Tide wore special helmets during the three-game series to honor former Athletic Director Mal Moore. The helmets were white with a crimson stripe down the middle and crimson No. 15s on each side, the 15 representing the number of football national championships in school history. The 1961 national championship team, which Moore was a backup quarterback on, wore similar helmets.
The Tide (35-6, 10-5 SEC) will host two midweek games, Tuesday against Mississippi Valley State and Wednesday against UAB before a weekend off. Alabama will return to SEC play on April 19th against Mississippi State in Tuscaloosa.
Each Monday for the duration of the Alabama baseball and softball seasons, DailyBamaBlog.com correspondent Brett Hudson will track outstanding individual performances with the Star Series. Three players from each team will get 1-star, 2-stars or 3-stars with a running season tally.
The Crimson Tide began the 2013 season by winning the UNI Dome Tournament in Cedar Falls, Iowa, this weekend with a perfect 5-0 record. Alabama started the tournament with a 7-2 win over Illinois and an 8-1 win over Northern Iowa. Those were followed by an 8-2 victory over Drake, a 10-7 win over Green Bay and a 10-0 win in five innings over North Dakota State.
3-Star Player: Freshman outfielder Haylie McCleney. McCleney completed her first weekend of collegiate softball with a 13-18 record at the plate, including nine runs scored and another four RBIs. McCleney, who started all five games at center field to replace senior Jan Fenton, stole five bases. McCleney was named SEC Freshman of the Week.
2-star Player: Junior pitcher Jackie Traina. Traina pitched three times, with two complete games and one relief performance. Both of Traina’s starts were complete games: the first a seven-inning, three-hit performance giving up one earned run and 12 strikeouts, and the other a five-inning shutout giving up four-hits and striking out eight batters. Traina’s relief appearance was 2.1 shutout innings with four strikeouts and two hits allowed. At the plate, Traina was 4-6 with 3 RBIs and one run.
1-star Player: Senior outfielder Keima Davis. The highlight of Davis’ weekend was a pinch-hit three-run home run in the top of the seventh inning to give Alabama its 10-7 win over Green Bay, prompting her teammates to take to Twitter to celebrate.
Davis went 4-11 with 11 RBIs and one stolen base.
2013 Season Tally
Haylie McCleney: 3 stars
Jackie Traina: 2 stars
Keima Davis: 1 star
Contributed by Brett Hudson