By (Ben Boynton)

After heavy rain Tuesday afternoon pushed the first pitch back from a 6 p.m. scheduled start to 7:32 p.m., the Alabama Crimson Tide won its 13th straight game with a 5-0 win over the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers.

“Rain delays definitely test your focus,” said junior first baseman Peyton Grantham. “You’re just sitting around waiting, and then you hurry up and then wait again, but it’s also really good preparation for postseason, because last year at the World Series it was raining in the Oklahoma game.”

The rain was coming down heavily for most of the afternoon, with a slight mist over the field during the first couple innings. The Ramblers committed two errors and the Crimson Tide none, but both teams had more passed balls than usual.

“On defense, you just have to focus that much more because when the ball is put in play, we don’t want to make errors behind her [Osorio],” Grantham said. “The ball just kind of slipped out a lot tonight, but you’ve just got to focus in on the seam and try to get it there.”

Junior pitcher Alexis Osorio threw 18 strikeouts and gave up just one hit in a complete game shutout.

“Lex has just been on her game the past few games,” freshman catcher Bailey Hemphill said. “She’s striking out like 18 consistently and it’s just really cool to watch her, but to actually get to catch her [is great]. It works for me, because I don’t have to do much behind the plate.”

Coming into the game, the Ramblers were one of four remaining undefeated teams in the country, with Oregon, Minnesota, and Jacksonville the only teams still undefeated after the game. They had seven starters batting above .300 and the other two batting at least .233.

“Lexie respected the heck out of the opponent,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “It was kind of like Stanford the other night…We were hoping for a little more offense, but she controlled them. That’s a normal performance this year for her, it’s unbelievable how consistent she’s been.

Hemphill hit her team-leading fifth home run of the season in the bottom of the fourth inning, and Grantham went 2-2 with an RBI and a walk. The Crimson Tide scored a single run in five of the six innings it batted in. Murphy has said multiple times in the past few weeks that he’s looking for the hitters to match the pitching, and he said that while he would have liked more scoring, the consistency was better.

“It gives the pitchers confidence,” Grantham said. “To give our pitching staff the feeling that we’ve got their back, that they don’t have to go out and be perfect. She [Osorio] doesn’t have to go out and get 18 strikeouts because we’re going to score behind her. It just gives confidence all around.”

Alabama will take the field again Wednesday night to host Valparaiso, with the first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports