TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Sometimes softball is a game of chance, and Alabama got the last chance Sunday against UL-Lafayette.
Alabama made the most of it, scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning for a 3-2 victory at Rhoads Stadium.
No. 4 Alabama (15-4) took two out of three games from No. 5 UL-Lafayette (15-2) to win the series.
“In the final analysis, they beat us,” Cajuns coach Michael Lotief said. “They won more pitches than we won.”
UL-Lafayette was two strikes away from losing in the top of the seventh before Shellie Landry blasted a solo home run to left to tie the score at 2.
Alabama started the bottom of the inning with Leona Lafaele’s double through the gap in right-center. Andrea Hawkins entered as a pinch runner and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt.
That brought All-America outfielder Haylie McCleney to the plate against Cajuns pitcher Jordan Wallace (6-1), who had won the head-to-head matchup the night before in UL-Lafayette’s victory by coaxing a grounder from McCleney with runners on second and third to end the game.
This time, McCleney fouled off four two-strike pitches to work the count full before hitting a line drive to right field on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. Aleah Craighton made a diving catch, but Hawkins tagged up and scored the winning run.
Until the dramatic finish, it was a game of “Top this.”
Chandler Dare gave Alabama a 1-0 lead in the third when she singled, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on Demi Turner’s sacrifice fly.
UL-Lafayette tied it in the sixth. Lexie Elkins and Samantha Walsh hit back-to-back singles, prompting Alabama coach Patrick Murphy to lift starter Leslie Jury in favor of Sydney Littlejohn (7-0), who beat the Cajuns in the series opener. Littlejohn got a strikeout before loading the bases with a walk, and pinch runner Meagan Thomas scored on a groundout to tie the score at 1.
Alabama answered to take the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Turner singled and Danielle Richard dropped down a sacrifice bunt, with Richard reaching safely and Turner advancing all the way to third when the first baseman dropped the throw.
Lotief protested, to no avail, that Richard interfered with the throw by running inside the base path.
“You could argue as long as you want to argue,” Lotief said, “but what I saw is different from what (the umpire) saw. I’m going to watch the video. If the video doesn’t resolve it, it’s what I saw and what he saw.
“She was out of the running lane. The ball is bunted down the first-base line. He said it didn’t hit her, but then the next question is, ‘Did her being out of the running lane affect the first baseman’s ability to catch the ball?’ ”
Littlejohn allowed two hits with four strikeouts in two innings for the win. Wallace gave up six hits and had three strikeouts.
UL-Lafayette opens Sun Belt play next weekend at No. 24 South Alabama.