Top-ranked Tide opens softball season with two wins
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – The top-ranked Alabama softball team earned two wins on opening day, downing Illinois, 7-2 in the opener and then sinking host Northern Iowa, 8-1, Friday at the UNI-Dome Classic.
Freshman Haylie McCleney had quite the debut to her collegiate career, reaching base six times in two games, going 4-for-6 with three runs, an RBI and two stolen bases.
The top-ranked Alabama softball team downed Illinois, 7-2, Friday afternoon in its season opening contest at the UNI-Dome Classic. The win moves the Tide’s record to 12-5 in season opening games.
A six-run third inning proved to be the difference, with senior Keima Davis supplying the brunt of the damage with a grand slam.
The big inning started with an RBI double down the right field line by Courtney Conley that plated pinch-runner Kallie Case. Junior Jordan Patterson then drew a bases loaded walk before Davis drilled a line-drive shot that snuck just inside the left field foul pole to clear the bases.
After making a diving grab in shallow center that she turned into a double play, freshman Haylie McCleney scored the first run of the season on a comebacker to the pitcher off the bat of junior Kaila Hunt in the first inning.
Illinois would score in the second and third innings, to briefly take the lead but the Tide put up the big third to seize the lead and secure the season opener.
Sophomore Leslie Jury went the distance, allowing two runs – one earned on four hits while striking out six and walking three.
Conley led the offensive attack for the Tide with a 2-for-3 effort. McCleney reached base three times in four at-bats, with a single, stolen base and two walks.
Alabama will face host Northern Iowa to wrap up day one in the UNI-Dome Classic. Day two of the tournament will feature contests against Drake and Wisconsin Green-Bay.
In front of an NCAA regular season single game record crowd of 5,084, the No. 1 ranked Alabama softball team spoiled the festivities for the host team, defeating Northern Iowa, 8-1, Friday night. With the win, the Tide improves to 2-0 at the UNI-Dome Classic.
Junior ace Jackie Traina struck out 12 and allowed one run on three hits in her season debut. Freshman Haylie McCleney continued her hot play, batting 3-for-4 with two runs, a stolen base and RBI. Junior Kaila Hunt also went 3-for-4 from the plate, scoring three times and driving in two.
Back-to-back doubles and an error got things going for the Tide in the third inning. Senior Kayla Braud got her first hit of the season with a two-bagger down the line in left and then McCleney hit a double of her own in left-center.
McCleney then raced around to score on her double as the leftfielder booted the hop off the turf to give Alabama an early 2-0 lead.
Alabama scored two more in the top of the fourth. Junior Ryan Iamurri chopped a single over third base to score Hunt then senior Keima Davis singled home Traina on a grounder that found real estate through the right side.
Hunt moved the Tide lead to 6-0 when she hit a prodigious blast well over the deep fence in left-center to score McCleney. The freshman reached base for the third time in as many at-bats, this time beating out an infield single.
UA capped off the fifth inning with its third run of the frame. Freshman pinch-runner Andrea Hawkins scored on a throwing error by the third baseman.
Alabama added its eighth and final run in the seventh inning. In her first at-bat of 2013, sophomore pinch-hitter Danielle Richard grounded an RBI single through the left side to score Traina.
Alabama will return for day two of the UNI-Dome Classic as the Tide will face Drake at 3 p.m., and then Wisconsin-Green Bay at 5 p.m.