TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In a back-and-forth affair the Alabama softball team held off Western Kentucky, 7-6, Saturday afternoon in day two of the NCAA Softball Tuscaloosa Regional at Rhoads Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 44-13 on the season and advances to championship Sunday.
A sixth inning sac-fly off the bat of junior Molly Fichtner that scored freshman Andrea Hawkins proved to be the difference as the Tide held on in the top of the seventh to down the Lady Toppers (42-17).
Alabama sophomore Leslie Jury (18-7) earned the win in relief, her second win of the tournament after allowing just one hit and striking out three in two innings of work.
Senior Kayla Braud continued her hot play as she batted 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI. The fleet-footed outfielder now has five hits in the tournament. Hawkins followed with a 2-for-2 effort, adding a run and a RBI.
Braud ignited the scoring in the first inning as she chopped a single in front of the plate to record a hit in 22 straight games. She then stole second and third before scoring the first run of the game on a throw that sailed to the outfield on a Haylie McCleney steal attempt. Sophomore Jadyn Spencer then drove in McCleney on a base hit up the middle to finish the frame with a pair of runs.
Western Kentucky then tied the score at two when Katrina Metoyer hit a two-run home run over the wall in left in the top of the second inning. The homer was her eighth of the season.
An inning later with two outs and a full count Metoyer struck again, this time hitting a bases-clearing triple to give the Lady Toppers a 5-2 lead.
Alabama would answer by putting up four runs in the bottom half of the third inning to take a 6-5 lead.
Senior Courtney Conley started the scoring by drawing a bases-loaded walk that plated pinch-runner Jordan Patterson. Sophomore Danae Hays then hit a sac-fly to left to score junior Kaila Hunt before Hawkins lined a single to right that scored Spencer. Braud completed the scoring in the frame with a sac-fly to center that plated Conley.
Western Kentucky evened the score at six in the sixth inning on a two-out chopper that snuck through up the middle off the bat of Preslie Cruce.
Alabama will now await the rest of Saturday's games to learn who it will face Sunday with an NCAA Super Regional berth on the line. First pitch Sunday is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT, at Rhoads Stadium.