Sixth Inning Comeback Sends Alabama to Championship Round
Any semifinal game comes with a lot of pressure, and the team that can perform under it is the team that will prevail. That team was Alabama tonight as they defeated the Tennessee Lady Vols 6-5 in an action packed game.
“I think it’s exactly what we needed and the best part is we ended up winning,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “It was just one of those Rhoads House magic games that happen frequently.”
The sixth inning brought the action and the pressure.
Starting pitcher Montana Fouts had reached 97 pitches and given up a single. Murphy made the decision to put Lexi Kilfoyl in the circle.
The fans at Rhoads Stadium welcomed her with cheers. She hadn’t pitched for the team since April 10 on the road against Arkansas.
“We needed a pressure packed situation,” Murphy said. “Sometime, somehow she needed to feel it. The defense needed to feel it.”
With a runner on base, Kilfoyl gave up a walk. The runners then advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch.
An RBI-single, wild pitch and a second RBI-single allowed Tennessee to take a 5-4 lead.
With two on base and two outs in the inning, Murphy made the decision to put Fouts back into the circle.
A five-pitch strikeout from Fouts ended the half-inning.
Alabama started the sixth inning with a groundout.
Alexis Mack was called safe at first but the play was reviewed. She ended up being safe and that put a runner on for Bailey Hemphill.
“I say to her all the time," Murphy said about Mack. "Get on so Bailey can get up with somebody on. And for the most part she does. She played her role to perfection tonight… it was awesome.”
After hitting a ball deep foul, Hemphill delivered on the next pitch.
She hit her 61st career home run and put Alabama back on top.
Her home run passed Kelly Kretschman's (1998-2001) 60 career home run record and now ties her for fourth place in SEC history.
“At that moment I didn’t even care about the record. I was just happy… I put us ahead,” Hemphill said. “I was just swinging hard no matter what happened and I was able to hit a line drive over the fence.”
Hemphill’s teammate Taylor Clark also hit a two-run home run earlier in the game. Her hit put Alabama up 4-1 in the third inning.
“She’s one of the greatest resilient kids we’ve got, she just keeps working,” Murphy said. “She has a frickin badass work ethic… and just continues to grind.”
Clark’s home run was her first of the season.
“Yes, it was a great moment to finally hit,” Clark said. “Honestly everything I do, my work ethic, especially comes for Claire Jenkins and Bailey Dowling… to go in and give them high fives, just the celebration, meant more to me than my actual hit.”
Alabama will face Florida for the SEC Tournament Championship game. Both teams have each won five SEC tournament titles and Florida is 3-1 when facing Alabama in championship matchups.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 5 p.m. CT.
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