By (Ben Boynton)

Freshman designated player Bailey Hemphill has had a solid start to her Alabama career. Through Alabama’s first 23 games, she’d batted .431 with a team-leading five home runs and 21 RBIs.

Friday night in her first career SEC game, Hemphill continued that level of play, batting 3-3 with four RBIs in No. 9 Alabama’s 9-0 win in five innings over the No. 24 Arkansas Razorbacks to open SEC play.

“She’s pretty good, but she’s still got some room to grow,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “She’s just going to be fun to watch for four years. She’s just a really good player.”

Hemphill said she was excited to play in her first league game.

“I get to play. Not many freshman get to play,” Hemphill said. “It’s fun anytime I get to step on the field and help the team in any way…My confidence is pretty high right know. Obviously I’m going to struggle at some points but knowing what I can do is really going to help me going forward.”

Junior first baseman Peyton Grantham, who went 2-3 with an RBI, said that Hemphill and the rest of the team have been putting in extra work to produce better offense.

“Everyone’s been working really hard, you come up here an hour and a half before practice there’s somebody hitting,” Grantham said. “You come up here an hour and a half after practice someone’s still here hitting, nine o’clock at night someone’s up here. It was nice to see hard work pay off.”

The Crimson Tide has struggled with stranding runners on base this season, but didn’t have those same issues against the Razorbacks. The home team left just five runners on base, and scored five of its nine runs in bases-loaded situations.

“We talked about that at practice,” Murphy said. “This is the big time, and we can’t do all those little things wrong because they all add up, and I thought tonight was pretty clean all the way around…We had some good shots, some good baserunning…I was just really pleased with everything.”

Grantham said the team knows it has had its issues stranding runners but that they’re focused on what they can do going forward as it continues playing SEC teams.

“We call it the second season,” Grantham said. “Everything starts over when we start SEC [play], and so all of that’s in the past. We just try to focus on one pitch at a time.”

Hemphill said that the win gives the team confidence to compete with in the tough SEC conference, where 10 teams are ranked in one of the two main polls, including Arkansas and Alabama.

“We’re all so excited,” Hemphill said. “Going forward for the rest of the SEC [season], now we know what we’re capable of and we’re going to keep this momentum going forward.”

The Crimson Tide’s win makes it 22-2 on the year, and extends its current winning streak to 15 straight games. Alabama will play Arkansas at 5 p.m. on Saturday before wrapping up the series with a 1:30 p.m. game on Sunday.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports