Pitchers ready for three-day tournament after combining for no-hitterBy Kelly Ward | 02/19/2016 12:07am
There’s a subtle shift in the mood in a dugout, in a crowd, when the unspeakable is happening. The air is different. There’s a cautiousness that pervades a normally casual, friendly environment. No one wants to be the one to jinx it.
By merely uttering the word, the entire thing could come to a screeching halt. So no one talks about the box score. No one says anything that could disrupt a pitcher. Everyone tries to act as normal as possible.
Alabama pitcher Madi Moore could tell when her teammates were acting off on Tuesday, Feb. 16, on the way to a 7-0 win over UAB. Moore was one of three pitchers Alabama used in the combined no-hitter.
“They weren’t acting that weird,” Moore said. “They were just like, ‘Good game, good job, keep going’ like ‘Huh, kind of a little much,’ but we don’t say anything.”
Alabama coach Patrick Murphy didn’t even know what was going on with one out in the fifth inning. He took out freshman left-hander Moore (3-0, 0.00 ERA) for his junior right-hander Sydney Littlejohn, a curveball specialist.
“When I took her [Moore] out, I didn’t even realize it because she had walked two I think,” Murphy said. “When I got to the dugout, I looked up at the scoreboard, it was zero, I was like, ‘Aww, man.’”
He just wanted to get Littlejohn and sophomore right-hander Alexis Osorio some innings. Littlejohn also has two perfect games under her belt. She was perfect again against UAB, going 1 1/3 innings in relief. Osorio pitched the final 1 1/3 innings of relief. She struck out one.
“We used everybody,” Murphy said. “That was the plan going in that we’d try to get everybody at least a couple innings because we knew we were only going to have one day of practice this week—[Wednesday]—and that worked out too. Sydney was, I think, perfect on the night and Madi obviously, I mean, we didn’t give up a hit.”
Moore was fine watching the rest of the game from the dugout. She had done her job, protecting a 5-0 lead through 4 1/3 innings pitched with only two walks. After the game, she joined her teammates in celebrating the win and just the third combined no-hitter in team history.
“Madi’s just been terrific,” Murphy said. “I think she’s only given up one run in three outings. Sydney — after the first game against Central Florida, she came back really strong in the next three including [Tuesday] and Lexi, she had a little bit of a sprained ankle probably three weeks ago so that’s why we’re kind of taking our time with her, but she’s come in, done a great job so we’re just gonna continue to put the kid out there that we think has the best chance to beat whoever we’re playing and whether it’s any of the three or a lefty or a righty whatever, that’s what we’re going to do, and I think so far it’s worked.”
At the plate, Alabama ended its drought of five games without hitting a home run this season with back-to-back long balls from sophomore catcher Carrigan “Crash” Fain and junior utility Chandler Dare.
“It’s like a snowball effect,” Dare said. “I knew I was going to get to see some pretty good pitches, and I just waited for the one I was looking for and got it and thank goodness it went over. Crash started that for sure, and I was just glad I could come in right behind her.”
The Crimson Tide had seven hits and scored twice off of UAB errors. Alabama has had seven or more hits in four of the six games it’s played.
On Friday, Alabama (5-1) will face Miami (Ohio) (0-0) at 9 a.m. CT and Maryland (2-3) at 11:30 a.m. on the first day of the Panther Invitational in Atlanta. Saturday’s slate includes two morning contests against Mercer (3-2) and Georgia State (1-5) at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively. The team will wrap up its tournament play Sunday against Maryland at 9 a.m.