For the second straight contest, No. 6 Alabama rallied from a deficit to register a victory over No. 2 Tennessee (27-4, 2-4 SEC) in front of a crowd of 1,243 at the UA Softball Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Down 3-1 to the Lady Vols, Alabama (29-4, 9-0 SEC) scored four times in the fifth and once in the sixth to take a 6-3 win and sweep the three-game Southeastern Conference series.
Junior Monica Abbott dropped her third straight contest to fall to 17-3 on the campaign. She allowed six runs, only two earned, and nine hits while striking out seven in six innings of work. Senior catcher Kristi Durant led UT’s nine-hit offensive attack with a 2-for-3, two-RBI performance. Senior center fielder Sarah Fekete delivered three hits in four at-bats, and junior left fielder India Chiles registered a pair of singles in the match-up.
“On these two days, in their stadium, Alabama was better than us,” said Lady Vol co-head coach Ralph Weekly. “Our kids fought hard, but Alabama got the timely hits and the key runs. Both Karen [co-head coach Weekly] and I were proud of the effort of our players this weekend.”
The Lady Vols looked to get something going quickly against Alabama’s pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle in the top of the first as Fekete led-off the frame by grounding a high-hopper back to the pitcher and beating out the throw to first. With two down following a UT strikeout and pop out, Durant ripped a hard shot up the middle to grant the Lady Vol base runners at first and second. Sophomore first baseman Tonya Callahan came through with a two-out RBI by blooping a base hit to center field to score Fekete from second for UT’s first run of the contest.
Similar to Saturday’s doubleheader when the Crimson Tide always seemed to have an immediate answer to each Lady Vol scoring outburst, Alabama’s VanBrakle ripped a two-out offering from Abbott deep over the left field wall in the bottom of the first inning for her third home run of the season to knot the score at 1-1.
Fekete christened a rally by leading off the top of the third with a hard base knock up the middle of a drawn-in infield to make it a perfect 2-of-2 on the day. Chiles followed by chopping a high bouncer over third baseman Ramsey’s head to reach safely and grant UT runners at first and second with no outs.
Schutzler grounded into a fielder’s choice back to the pitcher to cut down Fekete at third on a close play. Chiles and Schutzler pulled off a double steal to advance 60 feet and each scored on a clutch two-RBI single up the middle by Durant for a 3-1 lead.
Alabama rallied as Praytor opened the scoring chance by reaching safely on a fielding error by the UT infield. VanBrakle lifted a bloop to right center that fell in front of the Lady Vol outfield to grant the Tide runners at first and second with just one down.
Ramsey drew a walk to load the bases for Woods who promptly laced a double just in front of a diving Chiles in left center to plate two and tie the game at 3-3. Montalvo stepped in and made it 5-3 Alabama by sending an Abbott offering down the right field line into the corner for a two-RBI double.
Down to a last chance in the seventh, the Lady Vols’ Fekete singled into center with two outs and was followed by Chiles who ripped a shot through the left side that almost eluded a drawn-in outfield for extra bases. The rally came up short as Schutzler struck out swinging to end the contest.