ALABAMA 3, FLORIDA 0
In the first of two All-SEC Super Regionals, Alexis Osorio and the Alabama Crimson Tide out-dueled Kelly Barnhill and the Florida Gators, picking up a 3-0 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
“Outdueled”, really, is the best way to describe the action in this game, as Barnhill and Osorio are two of the best pitchers, not just in the SEC, but in the entire nation.
Barnhill’s dominance was on display for the first half of the game, as she struck out nine of the first 12 batters she faced, with all nine strikeouts coming in a row. Osorio was able to keep the Gators at bay, though, making big pitches in big spots and seeming to get better as the game went on.
In the top of the fifth inning, Alabama’s Bailey Hemphill drew a leadoff walk against Barnhill. Mari Cranek came in to run for Hemphill, and Reagan Dykes advanced Cranek to second on a bunt, and Dykes beat the throw to first. Chandler Dare came up and also laid down a bunt, and Barnhill’s throw to first base was wild, allowing Cranek and Dykes to come around and score for the game’s first runs. Sydney Booker came up, and also bunted, and another throw got away from Barnhill allowing Dare to score. Just like that, Alabama had three runs on no hits.
That was all the Tide would need, as Osorio took care of business the rest of the way, allowing just three hits in the complete game shutout.
Alabama takes a 1-0 lead in the Super Regional, and will look to close Florida out Friday evening. The Gators, meanwhile, will look to force a do-or-die Game 3.
UCLA 8, OLE MISS 7
The second and final Super Regional to have its game 1 take place on Thursday evening featured a matchup between the 12-seeded Rebels and the 5th-seeded Bruins. And, for the first 5 innings of game 1, UCLA looked like it was a 1 seed.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a monster 3rd inning, UCLA looked like they would cruise to an easy victory. Their pitcher, Rachel Garcia, was humming along, retiring Ole Miss batter after Ole Miss batter. In fact, she had a no-hitter going at the start of the 6th inning.
Unfortunately for UCLA, that’s where it all fell apart. Once the no-hitter was broken up with a single, Brittany Finney knocked a ball out of the park to cut the UCLA lead in half. From there, Ole Miss was able to get another runner home off a wild pitch before Alyssa Gonzalez brought in two more runners in one swing. All of a sudden, the Rebels were in the lead of a game that was controlled by UCLA all night long.
The game would not be without suspense though. In the bottom of the 7th, UCLA threatened to send the game into extra innings. With 2 outs recorded and a runner standing on third, it seemed as if Ole Miss was finally going to shut the door. However, a wild pitch brought Delaney Spaulding home, tying the game at 5.
A few more innings would go by until, in the top of the 10th, Gonzalez once again came through with a clutch hit. With two runners in scoring position, she was able to bring both of them home with a single (she was thrown out at second). Ole Miss had a 7-5 lead, and sure enough, they relinquished it.
Bubba Nickles, with two outs already recorded, had the game in her hands. With a double to deep right field, she was able to send home two runs for the Bruins, drawing even. The 10th inning would then end as the game went deeper into the night.
However, the game would ultimately be decided in the 11th, with Madeline Jelenicki singling into shallow left field, bringing home just one run—it was all they needed.
After dropping this tough battle that went late into the evening, Ole Miss will face UCLA in game 2 of the series on Friday at 9 p.m. ET. Their season hangs in the balance.