By (Ben Boynton)

The last time the Alabama Crimson Tide took the field in Rhoads Stadium, coach Patrick Murphy earned his 1,000th career win with a 5-3 win against Kent State. Since then, Alabama dropped two of three on the road at Missouri before rebounding with a win Wednesday night against Lipscomb.

The No. 11 Crimson Tide bounced back in conference play with a 3-0 win against the No. 8 LSU Tigers Friday night in the first game of an important series for both sides.

The game was a pitcher’s duel, as outside of the first inning the two teams combined for just four hits. Junior pitcher Alexis Osorio went the distance for Alabama, racking up 11 strikeouts and allowing just two hits, losing a no-hit bid in the sixth innings. She threw a career-high 158 pitches in the game and walked six.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody walk the three-spot four times and strike out the four-spot four times,” Murphy said. “That was the key because the three-hole was on base four times but the next girl was 0-4. If the first kid’s going to walk you better get the second kid, which she did. She made really good pitches to a lot of people.”

Not only was it a bounce-back for Alabama, but the game was important for Osorio. She was the starting pitcher in both Missouri losses.

“My goal was to just go out there and attack their hitters,” Osorio said. “They’re a great hitting team, offensively and defensively and their pitching is awesome too, but overall my goal was just to stay composed and control what I could control.”

LSU’s pitcher Allie Walljasper came into the game with an 0.97 ERA, the 14th best mark in the nation, and after the first inning she surrendered just two hits. Junior shortstop Sydney Booker was hit by a pitch in the third inning, and was the last baserunner the Crimson Tide had. Junior first baseman Peyton Grantham said the team took an aggressive approach to the plate.

“Just see a good pitch and hit it,” Grantham said. “I felt like we were a lot more mentally focused this week, just trying to watch film [and] see if we could pick up anything and just see a good pitch and hit it.”

Alabama’s offense wasn’t much more productive than LSU’s, but it did enough damage in the first inning to propel it to victory. After senior right fielder Chandler Dare and sophomore left fielder Mari Cranek got on base to lead off the game, senior third baseman Marisa Runyon doubled to right field to bring home Dare. Two batters later, junior first baseman Peyton Grantham doubled home Cranek and Runyon to score the only other runs in the game.

The team relied on Osorio’s pitching to keep its lead and she delivered.

“Honestly, I don’t know how she does it,” Grantham said. “You can tell all over her face, you never know if it was a ball, a strike, a home run, a groundout, a strikeout, you never know, and just playing behind that gives us so much confidence.”

Alabama and LSU will play the second game in the series Saturday night, with an 8 p.m. scheduled first pitch.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports