LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) — Four runs is all Alabama needed to defeat Kentucky Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Super Regionals in Tuscaloosa.
The Crimson Tide (49-7) overcame a 2-0 deficit with a four-run outburst in the fourth inning and held on to edge the Wildcats 4-3 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series in Tuscaloosa. The series resumes at 2 p.m. Saturday in an elimination contest.
"Games like that are a bummer, because I thought we played well,” Kentucky coach Rachel Lawson said. “I don't think we played a perfect game, but I thought really well. On the one hand, you can take a lot of confidence from that. On the other hand, you're like, 'Oh man, that stinks, we played pretty well and they still ended up on the winning side of things.' We played a good game.”
Renee Abernathy paced Kentucky’s offense with a pair of home runs, including a solo shot in the seventh inning. Kentucky native Montana Fouts struck out UK right fielder Tatum Spangler with the bases loaded to end the contest.
“We did for the most part what we set out to do,” Lawson said. “Our approach was good at the plate. I thought Autumn was really good on the mound. When you go out and do what you set to do, that's all you can ask for.”
Fouts, a graduate of East Carter High School in Grayson, went the distance and scattered seven hits. She struck out 11 and gave up three earned runs. Fouts collected double-digit strikeouts for the 20th time this season.
Kentucky pitcher Autumn Humes gave up six hits, fanned nine and walked two. Behind Humes, Alabama didn’t collect its first hit of the game until the fourth inning. KB Sides had a bases-loaded triple in the inning that plated a pair of runs to give the hosts the lead for good.
The comeback sparked Alabama to its 17th consecutive victory, with 15 of those coming over ranked teams.
"It was a (heck) of a Super Regional opening game,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “Twists, turns, ups, downs and a great crowd. We are just happy to have gotten the win in game one. It showed a lot of grit and resiliency from our team."
Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter @keithtaylor21