Veteran Leadership Ignites Alabama Offense, UA Stays Alive
Junior outfielder Jenna Johnson set the tone early after a weekend-long offensive struggle in the No. 6 Alabama dugout. In the first at-bat of the Tide's elimination game victory against Chattanooga on Saturday, Johnson connected on her fifth home run ball of the year to give Alabama a season-saving spark.
According to Murphy, the decision for Johnson to bat leadoff wasn't as much of an offensive strategy as it was a plea for parity.
"I said, after the first game when we got the [lightning] delay, 'you gotta help me out here – who wants to hit leadoff?' And the first voice I heard was hers."
Johnson finished the appearance 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI after being the catalyst for Alabama's early 2-0 lead.
Fellow junior outfielder Savannah Woodard did her part to get the offense going by drawing two walks, collecting two stolen bases and hitting a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to score Ally Shipman. She also scored on a ball hit into a fielder's choice by Johnson but was able to escape the tag to bring the Tide's lead to two.
Senior catcher Ally Shipman went 2-for-4 in the elimination game and notched one of Alabama's only two hits against Stanford in the early matchup. Shipman finished the day 3-for-7 with an insurance RBI scored in the seventh inning against Chattanooga.
In her single at-bat during the elimination game, freshman Jenna Lord came through for the Tide as a pinch hitter scoring two in the sixth inning with a single-base hit to center field.
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Jaala Torrence recorded one of her most impressive performances in an Alabama uniform during her 6.1 inning appearance with the season on the line. She gave up just two runs and three walks while recording five scoreless innings throughout the evening.
The circumstances surrounding her starting appearance only make the performance seem even more awe-inspiring. The fall to Stanford marked Alabama's first regional loss since 2007 and the starter against the Cardinal, senior ace RHP Montana Fouts, had to be pulled after being hit in the head with a ball going across the diamond.
The Tide's elimination game started over an hour and a half after its scheduled start time due to lightning and with RHP Lexi Kilfoyl still uncertain to return for Alabama in 2022, Torrence's ability to step in at a moment's notice helped to keep the team's postseason hopes alive.
Despite the scary scene, Fouts seemed to be unharmed as she stood up almost instantly, but the look of frustration on her face was clear. She returned later in the evening to close up some loose ends for Torrence, a positive sign for Sunday's matchup as Fouts retired both Chattanooga batters she faced.
To advance and eliminate Stanford, Alabama will need two wins on Sunday with the first game being moved up to 10 a.m. for the threat of inclement weather.