Once again, senior Amanda Locke was in the circle to pitch for Alabama’s ace Jackie Traina. And once again, she showed why the Crimson Tide is not just a one-pitcher team as it begins postseason play.
Locke allowed just one run and three hits as Alabama took down the Tennessee-Martin Skyhawks 5-1 in the first game of the NCAA Softball Tuscaloosa Regional. The win means Alabama will play the South Alabama Jaguars on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a chance to advance to the Regional final on Sunday.
“It just really talks about how good our pitching staff is,” senior Jennifer Fenton said. “We don’t have to rely on one person to do everything. It’s great for Amanda to come in, and she just threw her game and that’s what we ask her to do.”
Locke pitched in her second consecutive game for the Tide, which is resting Traina after she made five appearances in eight days. She threw 96 pitches on the day, striking out seven batters and only walking two. Her only earned run came on a solo home run in the 5th inning.
“She gives up the home run – good hit, full count, threw a strike and the kid hit it,” head coach Patrick Murphy said of Locke’s performance. “One run? I’ll take that.”
Alabama got off to a fast start once again, scoring three runs in the first inning. Sophomore Kaila Hunt hit a two-RBI single, Cassie Reilly-Boccia added an RBI in the inning, and the Tide never looked back. Freshman Danae Hays sent a solo home run to left field in the second inning, and Fenton added an insurance run with an RBI single in the sixth.
“She threw me one of my favorite pitches and I took advantage of it. It’s been a while,” Hays said. “But good thing I have great teammates who support me through thick and thin.”
On a day when powerhouses like Florida, Tennessee and Texas were handed losses on their first game of Regional action, the Tide was happy to avoid the upset.
“You definitely don’t want to be on the list,” Murphy said. “It’s parody in softball. Anybody can beat anybody in any given time.”
“We just play Alabama softball. That’s all we do. We come out, we play hard. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does,” Fenton said. “We just play our game. We focus on each pitch, each inning, winning that.”
Up next for the Tide in the double-elimination regional is South Alabama, which took down Georgia Tech earlier in the day with a two-run, seventh-inning rally in its first appearance at an NCAA regional.
“They beat a good team in that [Sun Belt] championship game, so I’m sure it’ll be entertaining,” Murphy said. “It’ll be a good game; fun to watch.”
Filed Under: Softball