KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Alabama softball’s run at the SEC Tournament ended in the semifinal round Saturday, as the Crimson Tide fell, 4-1, to Ole Miss.
Alabama (42-16) and Ole Miss (39-18) were originally scheduled to face each other on Friday afternoon, but inclement weather in the area forced a schedule change with the teams meeting on Saturday morning instead. Three runs by the Rebels in the top of the second gave them an early lead and they added another on a solo home run in the top of the fifth. Alabama scratched one across in the bottom of the sixth and got the potential tying run to the plate in the seventh but the comeback effort fell just short.
Four of Alabama’s seven hits came from Chandler Dare and Marisa Runyon, each going 2-4. Bailey Hemphill drove in the Tide’s lone run of the day on a sixth-inning RBI single, giving her a 4-7 (.571) week with four RBIs and three runs scored. Sydney Littlejohn (15-8) took the loss, exiting after 5.2 innings with Madi Moore pitching 1.1 perfect innings behind her in relief.
For their efforts over the week, Hemphill and Alexis Osorio were named to the SEC All-Tournament team, giving the Tide 37 honorees in program history.
A pair of slap singles and a sacrifice bunt quickly put two Ole Miss runners in scoring position in the top of the first but a strikeout and popup got Alabama out of the early jam, keeping it scoreless. The Rebels put another pair of runners in scoring position with one out in the next inning. An RBI single by Miranda Strother through the left side scored one and Strother was caught in a rundown between first and second, but the rundown allowed the trailing runner to break home from third, sliding under the tag attempt to make it 2-0. A double steal attempt coupled with an error allowed the Rebels to extend the lead to 3-0 with two out before a groundout ended the half-inning.
With two out in the top of the fifth, Ole Miss extended its lead to 4-0 with a solo home run by Dakota Matiko. With two on and two out in the top of the sixth, Alabama turned to its bullpen as Moore entered to pitch and induced a groundout to end the half-inning. Back-to-back base hits by Dare and Runyon in the bottom of the sixth set up Hemphill for an RBI single, putting the Tide in the run column and cutting the deficit to three. Alabama could not sustain the momentum in the inning however, leaving two on base to end the inning only able to push one run across as Ole Miss took a 4-1 lead to the seventh.
The Rebels could not add to its three-run lead in the top of the seventh. Peyton Grantham battled through a 10-pitch at-bat to start the bottom of the seventh with a walk but two quick outs brought the Tide down to its final out. A single through the left side by Dare put two on and brought the potential tying run to the plate but a fly ball to left ended it as Ole Miss won, 4-1, to advance to the SEC Tournament championship.
Next up, the NCAA announces its field of 64 for the 2017 NCAA Softball Tournament on Sunday, May 14 at 9 p.m. CT live on ESPN2. NCAA Regional action at the 16 national seed host sites starts as early as Thursday, May 18 and continues through Sunday, May 21.