TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- In a back-and-forth affair, the top-ranked Alabama softball team dropped its first contest of the season, falling to No. 4 Florida, 8-4, Wednesday night at Rhoads Stadium. After the loss, the Crimson Tide moves to 22-1 on the season.
A three-run sixth proved to be the difference as the Gators (23-1) came back to take the lead, one they would not relinquish.
Florida outhit Alabama, 10-6, the first time the Tide had been on the other end of the hit column this season. Senior Kayla Braud paced the Tide at the plate with two hits, scoring a run and stealing two bases.
Junior Jackie Traina (10-1) was tagged with her first loss on the season, allowing eight runs - seven earned - on nine hits in 6 1/3 innings pitched while striking out six.
After Florida opened the game with one run in the first inning, Alabama seized the lead in the third, rewarded for its patience. A wild pitch scored sophomore Jadyn Spencer and then the Tide loaded the bases and junior Molly Fichtner drew the walk to score Braud.
The Gators evened the score in the top of the fifth but the Tide answered right back. After a leadoff hit by freshman Haylie McCleney, junior Kaila Hunt doubled off the wall in right-center to score the fleet-footed rookie all the way from first.
With two outs in the frame the Tide added another as sophomore Danae Hays singled up the middle to give Alabama a 4-2 lead.
Alabama will open Southeastern Conference play on the road in Knoxville to face off against No. 8 Tennessee. The two teams will start the three game series on Friday, March 8, with first pitch slated for 5:30 p.m. CT.