Softball Falls 5-1 to Alabama in Tuscaloosa Regional
TUSCALOOSA, AL—The Great Danes fell to the No. 16 Alabama Crimson Tide 5-1 in their first game of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. Tomorrow, UAlbany will take on Louisiana Tech at 3:00 p.m. ET for an elimination game, while Alabama will advance in the winner's bracket playing Minnesota at 12:30 p.m. ET.
With over 1,800 fans at Rhoads Stadium, the Great Danes responded well under the pressure.
“We did the best we could. For us to beat a team like that we have to play a perfect game and we were a little less than perfect, but I thought we played pretty well,” said head coach Chris Cannata.
In response to playing on Alabama's home field, Cannata stated, "It is intimidating with a crowd like that. It's only going to help the young ones and it's a great experience for our seniors to have."
The Great Danes scored first in the top of the second. Chelsea Henige had an impressive game performance going 1-2 at the plate, scoring the Danes' only run. Henige snatched the first hit of the game with a double into right center. The Crimson Tide's pitcher, Madi Moore then hit freshman, Kelly Barkevich in the shoulder. Shaye Swiatek recorded the RBI with a solid single up the middle. Aggressive base running from Henige allowed her to take two bases and cross the plate. Moving to the bottom of the inning, Alabama's lead-off batter shot a home run over the left field fence to tie up the score 1-1.
The Great Danes caused an Alabama pitching change in the top of the third after two consecutive batters were hit by pitches. Senior, Sydney Littlejohn (16-8) took over the mound for Moore leaving the Danes scoreless in the top of the inning. Offensively in the bottom of the inning, Alabama knocked in another run claiming a one run lead from a walk and a single up the middle.
The Crimson Tide were able to add three more to the board in the bottom of the fifth. Starting off the inning, the lead-off batter was walked. Then, an RBI came from a solid single up the middle. After, Alabama's freshman first baseman, Bailey Hemphill hit her 9th home run of the season to take the Crimson Tide on a 5-1 lead. Two scoreless innings followed to make the final score 5-1 in favor of Alabama.
When asked about UAlbany's game plan for the rest of the Regional, Cannata stated, “We have to win a game tomorrow. So hopefully we come out with the same approach and battle again tomorrow.”
Tomorrow the Great Danes will face Louisiana Tech who fell to Minnesota earlier this afternoon.
SCOUTING LOUISIANA TECH
Louisiana Tech earned its spot in the Tuscaloosa Regional through Conference USA's automatic entry. LA Tech defeated FIU 1-0 in the league's title game. This is LA Tech's 10th NCAA Softball appearance with the last time being in 2008. The Bulldogs set a program record this season with six players being named to the All-CUSA Team. Sophomore pitcher, Krystal De La Cruz was named the USA Newcomer of the Year. De La Cruz leads the team with a 2.00 ERA and over 105 innings pitched. Louisiana Tech leads Conference USA in runs scored (303), hits (436), and RBIs (269).