BATON ROUGE, La. (UA Athletics) - Alabama softball claimed sole possession of its sixth SEC Championship Saturday night at Tiger Park, defeating LSU 4-3.
The title is the sixth for Alabama (49-6, 17-6 SEC), previously winning in 2006, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014. The Crimson Tide took an early lead over LSU (40-14, 14-9 SEC) with three runs in the second and another in the third on a solo home run from sophomore Maddie Morgan. The Tigers chipped away with runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, making it a one-run game heading into the seventh. The Tide didn't add to its lead in the top of the inning but LSU was held at bay in the bottom half as Alabama held on to win.
Six different Tide players earned a hit in the victory, with each of the top three in the order earning an RBI. Junior Sarah Cornell (20-1) got the victory with 5.0 innings in the start while freshman Montana Fouts earned her fifth save with 2.0 shutout innings behind her, retiring all six batters she faced.
Junior Elissa Brown led off the game with an infield single but was caught stealing in the next at-bat. Sophomore Kaylee Tow followed with a walk and then junior Bailey Hemphill pulled a single through the 5-6 hole to put two on with one out. A fly ball and force out would end the half-inning with Alabama unable to bring a run home.
Alabama threatened again in the top of the second, with junior Claire Jenkins and senior Reagan Dykes reaching on a double and a walk, respectively, before Morgan sacrificed both into scoring position with a well-placed bunt. Freshman Skylar Wallace drew a walk to load the bases and turn it back to the top of the order. LSU continued to struggle to find the strike zone, as consecutive walks drove in a pair of runs before the Tigers made the early pitching change, turning to Shelby Wickersham in the tough spot. Yet another walk moved everyone up 60 feet to make it 3-0 before a strikeout and popup ended the half-inning.
A two-out solo home run from Morgan in the top of the third made it a four-run lead for Alabama. LSU got its first hit of the day in the bottom of the fourth, a leadoff single from Savannah Stewart before Amanda Sanchez followed that with another single up them middle. After a popup for out number one, another single into shallow left field loaded the bases. A deep fly ball to left allowed the Tiger runner at third to tag up and score on the sacrifice fly before a popup ended the inning with the Tide's lead trimmed to 4-1.
A walk and a hit-by-pitch put the first two Alabama runners on base in the top of the fifth. Dykes laid down a sac bunt to move both into scoring position, but the lead runner was thrown out at home trying to take the extra base and score. A groundout ended the half-inning with the Tide unable to add to its three-run lead.
A one-out double and a groundout to move the runner to third set up Savannah Stewart up for an RBI single in the bottom of the fifth, drawing the Tigers within two. Shemiah Sanchez made it a one-run game with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the sixth and Fouts entered the game in relief in the save situation. A pair of groundouts and a popup ended the inning, sending Alabama to the seventh with a 4-3 lead.
The Tide couldn't add to its one-run advantage in the top of the seventh, but LSU went down in order in the bottom half as Alabama was able to hold on for the 4-3 victory.