OKLAHOMA CITY -- Alabama’s got a wealth of experienced seniors on the softball roster. You have the seven from last year that came back for another season, and there are the ones from the Class of 2021. That’s 10 total.
It was the younger players and Women’s College World Series newcomers, however, that made some noise Thursday in the Crimson Tide’s 5-1 win against Arizona.
Abby Doerr, a sophomore catcher, has played behind All-American Bailey Hemphill and hasn’t seen much action. She had just 38 at-bats when her name was called in the sixth inning against the Wildcats.
Doerr stepped into the batter’s box as a pinch-hitter and drove an 0-2 pitch over the centerfield fence for a two-run home run to pad the Crimson Tide’s lead, 5-0.
“She has battled and battled and battled,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “She has wanted to do well for this team all season long. That was certainly the biggest hit of her career.”
Doerr came in as a freshman expected to jump right into the starting role. She did start 18 games in a shortened 2020 season, but she hit .178 and struggled to adjust.
None of that seemed to matter while she was rounding the bases after her two-run blast. Murphy and the entire bench were ecstatic.
“She works so hard,” Hemphill said. “She obviously doesn't get that much playing time, but she comes in every day and she gives everything to make this team better. For her to succeed on this level, on this stage right now, that was, like, the coolest part of today, when she hit that.”
The home run also gave starting pitcher Montana Fouts some breathing room with a 5-0 cushion. But that's not why Fouts was happy to see Doerr succeed on the big stage.
"It just means so much because she's so pure," Fouts said of Doerr's home run. "You would think she's a starting nine every single game for how hard she works. She's always looking to get better too, do whatever it takes. She works hard knowing she can get that opportunity. She deserves every second of it."
Jenna Johnson, a sophomore, also came up clutch for Alabama. In the first inning she roped a single to left field, which the Arizona left fielder bobbled, allowing Hemphill to score the game’s first run.
Later in the sixth, sophomore Savannah Woodard singled with two outs to keep the inning alive and scored on a Maddie Morgan double. That set up Doerr for her big home run.