TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama sophomore Danae Hays ripped a seventh inning walk-off single to lift the No. 4 ranked Alabama softball team to a 9-8 victory over Mississippi State, Sunday afternoon in front 3,814 fans at Rhoads Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide improve to 40-7 overall and 12-6 in Southeastern Conference play.
The Tide nearly pushed across the game-winner on the previous play but junior Molly Fichtner was thrown out at home. Hays came through though with two outs as she scored pinch-runner Jordan Patterson to end the back-and-forth affair and give UA the series victory.
The two teams banged out 10 hits apiece with freshman Andrea Hawkins and McCleney leading the way with two hits each.
Alabama sophomore pitcher Leslie Jury (15-3) earned the win in relief, striking out two in one hitless inning. Junior Jackie Traina allowed eight runs –seven earned on 10 hits while striking out nine in six innings.
After giving up a run to the Bulldogs to open the game the Crimson Tide answered with three runs in the bottom half of the opening frame. With the bases loaded Traina delivered a two-run single to right and then sophomore Jadyn Spencer hit a sac-fly to left to score Fichtner.
Alabama took advantage of some MSU miscues in the second inning to expand its lead to 6-1. The Tide pushed two across on a throwing error and then scored another on a very shallow sac-fly off the bat of Traina that McCleney was able elude the tag for the run.
Mississippi State (29-16, 7-11 SEC) then rallied to even the score with three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth but once again Alabama had an answer. The freshman duo of Hawkins and McCleney gave the Tide the lead. After Hawkins beat out an infield single to second, McCleney smashed her fourth home run of the season over the wall in right to give the Tide an 8-6 advantage.
The Bulldogs pushed the game to the bottom half of the frame with another comeback, this time on a Briana Bell two-run home run that tied the game at eight.
Alabama will hit the road for a crucial SEC Western Division series in Baton Rouge. The three-game set against LSU will begin on Thursday, April 25, with first pitch slated for 7 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by ESPN2.