2 home runs lead softball to 8-0 win over TroyBy Kelly Ward | 02/24/2016 8:13pm
CW | Layton Dudley
The last time Peyton Grantham hit a home run in Rhoads Stadium it was the 2014 Super Regional against Nebraska. The 12-inning game went into the early hours of the morning before Grantham ended it on a solo home run.
Nearly 21 months to the day later she hit another, this time a two-run blast in the fourth inning of No. 4 Alabama softball’s 8-0 mercy-rule win over Troy on Wednesday. In the between months, Grantham rehabbed a torn ACL she suffered in October 2014.
The experience has been humbling, she said.
“You never know when it could be your last day to play,” said Grantham, a redshirt sophomore. “Obviously I was not coming out here thinking two falls ago that I was fixing to go down tearing my ACL, but now when they say, ‘Play every game like it’s your last,’ that’s what I do for sure.”
She was out for the 2015 season and when she could play again in the fall, she was in a brace. Then, she couldn’t take the brace anymore.
“One day we were out here, and we were doing a drill and she turned around and said to [athletic trainer] Erin [Weaver], ‘Can I take this damn thing off?’” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said.
That was the end of that, he said.
Alabama got hits when it needed to, scoring eight runs on 10 hits. The Crimson Tide knocked together seven runs in the bottom of the fourth, five of which came from two home runs.
Freshman outfielder Mari Cranek only had one hit in her career before Wednesday night. She only had one hit Wednesday night, but she made it count with a three-run home run.
“I was just going to pass it down, see the ball and hit it,” Cranek said.
Senior centerfielder Haylie McCleney went 2-for-2 at the plate with an RBI and a walk after missing the past five games due to concussion. Senior utility Andrea Hawkins went 2-for-2 on the night.
Junior right-hander Sydney Littlejohn (4-1) took the win. She went the distance, pitching five innings. She allowed four hits and hit a batter.
Alabama (11-1) will host the Easton Bama Bash starting Friday. The Crimson Tide starts play with No. 15 Arizona at 6 p.m. The teams face off again Saturday at 1:30 p.m. before Alabama takes on Marshall. The weekend ends with a non-conference matchup with No. 14 Tennessee on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I want to see a competitive drive, grit, determination,” Murphy said. “I don’t like the three swings and then a strikeout. We need to battle better, make the pitcher throw five, six, seven pitches and really make her uncomfortable. Like the inning we scored the seven, I think she got uncomfortable. Clean defense, we’ve been doing that for the most part. And then the starting pitchers have to keep us in the game.”