By (Ben Boynton)

Sophomore left fielder Merris Schroder hit two home runs and the Alabama Crimson Tide rode dominant pitching and solid contributions from the offense to pick up a pair of wins to kick off the Easton Bama Bash on Friday night. Senior Sydney Littlejohn and junior Alexis Osorio combined to allow just three hits and two runs on the night, adding 20 strikeouts and walking just one batter.

“Obviously it starts with Sydney and Lexie in the circle again,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “When you throw a shutout, you know, you’re never going to lose…Both of them have just been awesome for us…We’re getting spoiled.”

In the first game, the Crimson Tide earned a 4-0 win over the Central Florida Knights behind a dominant performance from Littlejohn, who struck out six while allowing just two hits in a complete game shutout.

Unlike Alabama’s previous two home games where the home team was out hit in a win, the offense delivered a solid performance in support of its pitcher. The Crimson Tide scattered eight hits across its six innings, including a two-run home run by sophomore left fielder Merris Schroder that was part of a three-run sixth inning.

Littlejohn continued her strong start to the season, as she has yet to give up an earned run. She got some help in the game from her defense, as Schroder made a tough over the shoulder catch in left field at the top of the seventh, and the team committed no errors.

“Sydney has the best moving curveball that I’ve ever seen,” Osorio said. “The way she went out there today, she was energetic and she just showed so much emotion, and the passion that she has for this game is incredible.”

In the second game, Osorio struck out the first nine batters she faced and 14 in total en route to a 7-2 win for the Crimson Tide over Texas Tech. In fact, the Red Raiders didn’t even make contact with one of Osorio’s pitches until the fourth inning, as Osorio gave up just a single hit in the game.

“Everything felt pretty good,” Osorio said. “I noticed that they were making an adjustment as the game went on, laying off the rise ball, but that just gave me the challenge to bring the ball down and have them swing at stuff down in the zone.”

The offense again delivered at the plate, this time striking early. Three runs in the first inning were all the Crimson Tide needed, but it scored its seven runs with 13 hits.

Junior first baseman Peyton Grantham had three RBIs in the game, and Schroder hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning to add to her total on the day.

“When we were warming up today, I was seeing the ball really well,” Schroder said. “Going to the plate tonight, I was just looking for a strike that looked good and committing to it, and it was working well for me today.”

Schroder’s all-around play so far this season has impressed her coach.

“I just feel like she’s getting more comfortable game after game after game,” Murphy said. “She’s worked hard, she’s put in the work in the weight room and the offseason, and now she’s seeing all her hard work pay off.”

The Easton Bama Bash continues Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with a game against Gardner-Webb, and a second game against Texas Tech to follow.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports