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Crimson Tide drops final conference series to Auburn

Alabama softball traveled to the Plains to close out its regular season with a conference series against Auburn.

The Tigers came into the series following back-to-back losses at Ole Miss, which sits in the bottom spot in conference standings, below Auburn. Despite this, the Tigers took game one on Thursday night, 4-3, despite a seventh-inning comeback attempt by the Crimson Tide which fell short. After 11 innings on Friday, marking the longest game of the season for the Crimson Tide, Alabama came away with the 2-0 win behind a two-RBI single by Kenleigh Cahalan to even the series.

Alabama was unable to take the series on Saturday, dropping the series finale 3-0 and therefore dropping the series to Auburn. It marks the first time that Alabama has finished under .500 in conference play.

Here are three takeaways and observations from Alabama softball’s (33-16, 10-14 SEC) series vs. Auburn (27-18-1, 9-15 SEC).

Alabama softball from the circle

Despite a shaky game one start for Kayla Beaver, where she went 2⅓ innings while allowing four runs off of three hits, walking two and striking out one, Beaver bounced back in game two of the series. She came in for relief for Jocelyn Briski in the sixth inning, immediately getting the Crimson Tide out of a bases loaded, two out jam, striking out Anna Wohlers in three pitches. Beaver finished Friday night’s game pitching 5⅓ innings where she did not allow a run on two hits and struck out seven.

Briski went 5⅔ innings on Friday, not giving up a run off of five hits while striking out four and walking two. She started in the circle again for Alabama on Saturday, where she went 1⅓ innings, allowing one run off of three hits. Beaver once again came in for relief on Saturday, where she struck out four and allowed one run on three hits over just 2⅔ innings pitched.

Jaala Torrence also saw some time in the circle on Thursday, pitching one inning, striking out two and walking one. Alea Johnson came in for relief in Thursday’s and Saturday’s games, coming up big on Saturday where she did not allow a hit and struck out three over two innings pitched.

Runs hard to come by

On Thursday night, Alabama’s three runs all came in the top of seventh inning. Before that, Alabama only had two hits and had left four runners on base.

Friday night’s run came in the 11th inning. Prior to that, Alabama had left 11 runners on base but had been unable to capitalize. Larissa Preuitt hit a leadoff single and after a Riley valentine strikeout, Bailey Dowling hit a single through the left side to put runners on first and second with one out, both runners advanced a base after a wild pitch, and after a Lauren Johnson fly out to center field, the top of the order was due up in Kenleigh Cahalan. Cahalan hit a single through the right side to score Preuitt and Dowling and give Alabama the 2-0 lead, which held as final.

The series finale saw Alabama struggle again in the run column, unable to score a run off of four hits. It marks the seventh time this season that the Alabama offense has been shutout.

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Missed opportunities late

Despite Thursday and Saturday’s losses, Alabama mustered up comeback attempts, but it was too little too late for the Crimson Tide.

Emma Broadfoot got Alabama’s seventh inning comeback started on Thursday with a leadoff single. Kinley Pate entered to pinch run for Broadfoot, and a Kali Heivilin home run made it a two-run game. Lauren Esman entered to pinch hit for Bailey Dowling, hitting a double to right center. A Riley Valentine flyout advanced Esman to third and Larissa Preuitt reached second on a fielding error by the center fielder, scoring Esman to make it just a one-run game with Cahalan up to the plate. Cahalan struck out swinging after going down 0-2 in the count ending the game.

Alabama’s first true threat in the series finale came in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Cahalan hit a single to the right side followed by Jenna Johnson who was walked after being hit by a pitch. Kali Heivilin struck out for the second out, followed by Emma Broadfoot who hit a popup to the shortstop, ending the half inning.

Alabama was unable to build a comeback effort in the top of the seventh of the series finale, going three-up, three-down.

What’s next?

Alabama softball will return to Auburn in just a few days for the SEC Tournament May 7-11. Alabama is currently in the No. 9 spot per SEC softball standings.

Anna Snyder covers high school sports and University of Alabama softball and football recruiting for The Tucaloosa News. Reach her at [email protected]. Follow her on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, @annaesnyder2