By (Ben Boynton)

For the second time in as many chances, Alabama was out hit in a home game.

Just like last week against South Alabama, the team still found a way to win.

Sophomore designated player Caroline Hardy hit her first career home run in her first at-bat, and the Crimson Tide rode strong pitching performances from senior Sydney Littlejohn and junior Alexis Osorio to defeat the North Florida Ospreys, 2-0.

“We didn’t come out and blow North Florida away, but we scratched and clawed and we did what we needed to do to get the win,” Hardy said. “I think that’s what’s important is the win.”

Alabama’s recent offensive struggles continued as it mustered just three hits to the Ospreys’ four. The Crimson Tide did draw seven walks to help out its woes at the plate, but also stranded seven runners on base. At one point in the fifth inning, the Crimson Tide had the bases loaded with just one out but was unable to produce a run in the situation.

“We’ve got to do a better job with a runner at third and less than two outs; we’ve got to get the ball in the air,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “It’s a sac fly. We only have one on the year, and that’s a stat that we’ve got to get better at.”

Ultimately, Alabama was able to make do with what it did produce. Hardy earned the start, her second of the year, and was able to deliver a solo shot to lead off the second inning.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Hardy said. “It kind of felt like an out of body experience. I rounded first base and I was like ‘I’m actually rounding first base, I’m jogging around the bases’. It was pretty great.”

Freshman catcher Bailey Hemphill, who is usually the designated player and got the start at catcher in this game, said watching her teammate hit her first home run was a special experience.

“That’s so awesome, we’re so happy for Caroline,” Hemphill said. “You would think we just won the World Series, we were so excited for her.”

Hemphill had a first of her own, driving in the only other Alabama run on her first career triple in the bottom of the third. Hemphill said she was out of breath after the play, and that it was probably the fastest she’s ever run.

“Murph didn’t send me to go to third, I kind of just thought he was, and then I got there and was like ‘Murph did you send me?’ and he goes ‘Not really’,” Hemphill said. “[I said] ‘Well, I’m here’, but that’s awesome to have my first career triple.”

Littlejohn earned the win, notching 10 strikeouts and allowing just four hits in 5.1 innings before Osorio came in to relieve her by striking out all five batters she faced.

“It’s awesome to get to see them do what they do,” Hemphill said. “They’re so dominant…and they go out and [throw] strikeout after strikeout. They don’t get a lot of hits, and so it’s really awesome to see what they can do.”

The win came in the first game of six straight at home. The Easton Bama Bash will see Alabama take on Central Florida, Texas Tech, and Gardner-Webb this weekend, starting with a doubleheader Friday at 4 p.m. 17 of the next 18 games for the Crimson Tide are at home, something that has the team excited.

“That’s music to my ears,” Murphy said. “We need to protect our house, and just the chance to play at home so many games, I’m hoping we get on a roll, and that needs to start with our bats.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports