By: Nicholas Elliott

CLEARWATER, FL- Alabama Softball opened up the 2023 TaxAct Clearwater Invitational with a gritty 5-4 win in game one of five in Florida.

The Tide’s offense got it rolling early in the bottom of the first with a single from Ashley Prange after a lead-off double from Kenleigh Cahalan. The offense continued to produce early runs as Ally Shipman doubled to score Prange to make it 2-0. The Tide showed no signs of slowing down early as Jenna Johnson was able to score Shipman on a two-out single to end the inning up 3-0 after a scorching start.

In the bottom of the second after a shutdown inning from Montana Fouts. The Tide’s bats continued to roll as Prange hit a two-run no-doubter homer to center to increase the Tide’s lead to 5-0. Bama was able to take Duke pitcher Jayla Wright out of the game early pitching 1.2 innings and giving up five hits, and only tallying one strikeout.

In the top of the fourth Duke was able to get on the board after a two-run homer to left center from Kelly Torres, and began to get some momentum as Cassidy Curdy from Duke, who took over for starting pitcher Jayla Wright was shutting down the Tide and were able to hold them at bay as the score was 5-2 in favor of the Tide.

The Tide stranded two in the fifth giving momentum to Duke’s dugout as they responded quickly in the top of the 6th with a one out solo home run from Torres, tallying her second homer of the day and third RBI. Montana Fouts responded immediately by striking out two to get the Tide back in the dugout with some momentum to finish the game out strong.

Duke would not go away without a fight cutting the lead to 5-4 in the top of the seventh from a sacrifice fly from Kamryn Jackson. Fouts was able to close it out to secure the win for the Tide and the complete game.

Fouts went seven innings with 106 pitches tallying eighth-K allowing four ER, and was able to get her second win of the season. Prange led the way on offense going 2/4 with a home run and double tallying three RBIs. Shipman was right behind her going 1/2 with a double and a walk.

The 3-1 12th ranked Crimson Tide will now face #2 UCLA at three Central Tomorrow on ESPN2.