TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – What’s left of the third-ranked University of Alabama softball team had a simple mission Sunday: Avoid the sweep.
No. 5 Florida had taken the first two games of the key Southeastern Conference series and even though Patrick Murphy’s team was short-handed it managed to eke out a 4-2 win at Rhoads Stadium.
“It was a great game," Murphy said. "It was a matter of grit. We played clean [defense] and they had a couple of mistakes.
“One of the big things was putting the ball in play and putting pressure on them. Our speed causes people to hurry.
“I don’t care how we do it. I just want to win.”
Senior outfielder KB Sides shined at the plate and got one of the Crimson Tide's four hits, extending her hitting streak to nine games.
She connected during her first at bat Sunday and came around to score on a ground out by first baseman Kaylee Tow.
Catcher Bailey Hemphill also had two hits.
“I think our team mindset was more or less … try not to get swept today," Sides said. "Try to do our best every inning. Florida ended up making those errors. We wanted to put the ball in play and it ended up going our way.”
As for the hitting streak, she added: “I try not to look at stuff like that. My job [in leadoff] is trying to get on base. My first at bat is important because it sets the tone.”
Defense was key Sunday.
Third sacker Maddie Morgan dove to her right to rob a Gator hit in the fourth.
Center fielder Elissa Brown used her speed to run about 30 yards to flag down a liner headed to the right center gap in the fifth.
In the sixth, second baseman Savannah Woodard started a big double play that shortstop Taylor Clark completed by firing to first baseman Kaylee Tow.
Junior righty Montana Fouts (14-3) was also fantastic in the circle for the Crimson Tide. She went the entire seven innings and finished with 10 strikeouts, allowing four hits and three walks.
“I was really proud of Montana. Kudos to her,” Murphy said. “It takes somebody that’s preparing a lot and watching film. Remembering what she threw Friday to every batter. She’s got the guts and the grit.”
Sides agreed: ”I haven’t seen [Fouts] throw like that in a long time. It was… graceful. She really stuffed it in.”
The costly errors by Florida (32-6, 12-3 SEC) led to three unearned Alabama runs, almost the exact opposite of happened during Saturday's game.
Even though pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl, shortstop Claire Jenkins and second baseman Bailey Dowling are all out with injuries, Alabama is 33-7, and at 12-6 in league play.
The Crimson Tide is still in the hunt for the league title, but fell into third place and has just six SEC games remaining
Next up for Alabama is a home game Wednesday (6 p.m. CT) against Southern Miss. The game will be televised by SEC Network Plus.