Alabama Softball Falls, 5-0, in WCWS Opener vs. Michigan
For the first time since 2009, Alabama fell in its opening game at the Women’s College World Series as Michigan shut out the Crimson Tide, 5-0, on Thursday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.
“It was a great win for Michigan,” said Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy. “Congrats to them. Their pitcher was awesome. They had two key hits and, really, other than those two big swings, Lexi [Osorio] pitched a pretty good game. We just didn’t do enough offensively to support her.”
Alabama (47-14) was shut out for just the second time this season, as Michigan (57-6) got all of its offense on two big swings, pulling ahead 1-0 on a solo homer by Kelly Christner in the first inning and adding some cushion with a fourth-inning grand slam by Lauren Sweet. Wolverine starter Megan Betsa (31-4) out-dueled Tide freshman Alexis Osorio (21-9), though each allowed just four hits with Osorio holding the slight 7-6 edge in strikeouts.
“You have to do something to win and on the other side, unfortunately, if you don’t do enough of some other things you lose,” said Murphy. “We had way too many 0-fers and I think we only had one kid at second base. You’re just not going to win too many games against a very good team offensively like that. We had to put some more pressure on them and we didn’t do that.”
Demi Turner was the lone Tide baserunner to reach scoring position, tagging up from first on a long fly ball by Haylie McCleney to advance to second base in the sixth inning. Turner accounted for one of Alabama’s four hits, with Andrea Hawkins earning a pinch-hit single and Jadyn Spencer going 2-3 out of the three-hole.
Michigan took the first lead of the game in the bottom of the first as Kelly Christner hit a two-out solo homer to make it a 1-0 game. The next hit of the game wouldn’t come until the top of the fourth inning, as Spencer broke up Betsa’s no-hit bid with a one out single into center field. The Tide couldn’t break into the run column however, as a strikeout and flyout left Spencer at first with the Wolverine’s still holding a 1-0 lead at the halfway point
The wait for the next hit wouldn’t take nearly as long, as Sierra Romero led off the Michigan half of the fourth inning with a single into center field. Kelly Christner then drew a four-pitch walk and Kelsey Susalla knocked a single up the middle to load the bases with nobody out. Lauren Sweet battled to a full count and blasted a grand slam into right field, extending the Wolverines’ lead to 5-0.
Alabama’s second hit of the day came in the top of the sixth, a one out single by Turner up the middle. McCleney battled through a nine-pitch at bat to launch a long fly ball to the warning track in left for out number two, but it was a productive out as the speedy Turner tagged up and advanced to second base. Spencer extended the inning with a two-out infield single but a popup ended the threat as Alabama could not scratch a run across.
Michigan was held scoreless in the bottom of the sixth as Alabama was now down to its final three outs facing a five-run deficit. A groundout and flyout quickly brought the Tide down to its final out but Hawkins, pinch hitting, looked to start a late rally with an infield single. A comeback was not in the cards however, as a strikeout ended the game with Michigan winning, 5-0.
Alabama will face the loser of tonight’s game between Oregon and UCLA in an elimination game on Saturday, May 30 at 1:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.