By (Ben Boynton)

Alabama won 7-0 Sunday over the Jacksonville Dolphins in a balanced effort between the offense and the pitching staff. Freshman left fielder Gabby Callaway had her first career home run, a three-run shot to right field in the sixth inning. Freshman shortstop Claire Jenkins hit her first career home run a day before on Saturday, and went 3-4 on Sunday

“They did awesome,” coach Patrick Murphy. “When we get 3-4 [and] 2-4 with four RBIs from two freshmen, you should have a good day.”

The win caps another 5-0 weekend for the Crimson Tide, as Alabama has now won 12 straight following two straight losses to Louisiana-Lafayette Feb. 18-19. Senior pitcher Sydney Littlejohn tied her career high with 11 strikeouts in a three-hit shutout Sunday, and the Crimson Tide pitching staff combined for a team ERA of 0.23 on the weekend, tossing 53 strikeouts and allowing just seven hits.

Sophomore Madi Moore pitched three perfect innings on Saturday against Drake before exiting after a collision that occurred while Moore was covering home plate. Murphy said she is suffering from a concussion and will be day-to-day moving forward.

The play of Jenkins and Callaway on Sunday caught their coach’s attention, as he said the opportunity is there for the freshmen to gain more playing time.

“I tell them in the beginning of the year that you can look over the years and see my stats, and a lot of people get chances,” Murphy said. “It’s what you do with the chance that keeps you in the lineup.”

Jenkins, Callaway, center fielder Elissa Brown, and designated player/catcher Bailey Hemphill comprise the freshman class, and Callaway said they have been prepared by the rest of the team to go out and execute.

“The upperclassmen do such a good job of letting us know how it’s going to be as a freshman,” Callaway said. “They do a good job of preparing us for the mentality around that, to just be ready to go when you get the opportunity and to not think about it too much.”

Jenkins also said that her and her fellow freshmen are trying not to overthink things when they get chances on the field.

“We just know that when we get a chance we go out there and make the most of it, have a great time doing it, have fun, there’s no stress, you just get out there and play the game you’ve always been playing,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins and Callaway don’t see as much playing time as Brown and Hemphill, but by playing well when they get on the field they can make just as big of an impact.

“We’re here to make everyone else work hard and make this team better as a whole, no matter [whether its] on the field [or] off the field,” Jenkins said. “We’re going to make everyone work hard and support everyone.”

Five players hit home runs for the Crimson Tide this weekend, with Jenkins and Callaway joined by sophomore catcher Reagan Dykes, sophomore left fielder Merris Schroder, and junior catcher Carrigan Fain. Murphy said this team is full of hitters that can put it past the fence, and that makes them dangerous.

“Probably on our team, thirteen of fifteen hitters can hit a home run,” Murphy said. “I think it just takes pressure off of the meat of the order when the nine-hole hits a three-run home run. It’s good for our team.”

The Crimson Tide host Loyola-Chicago on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. and Valparaiso Wednesday night at 6 p.m. before opening the SEC schedule at home against Arkansas, with a three-game series next weekend.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports