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Alabama posts 4-1 win over Arkansas in SEC Tournament

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Alabama softball opened play at the 2017 SEC Tournament with a 4-1 win over Arkansas Wednesday afternoon at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

Alabama (40-13) took an early lead over Arkansas (31-22) with three runs in the first inning and added some insurance in the sixth with a solo home run by Bailey Hemphill, part of a 2-3 day with two runs scored and two RBIs for the SEC All-Freshman honoree. Fellow All Freshman award-winner Elissa Brown was 2-3 at the leadoff spot, as she has now hit safely in nine of her last 10 games. Sydney Littlejohn (15-7) earned the win with one run allowed over 5.0 innings pitched, while Alexis Osorio earned her third save of the season with 2.0 shutout innings behind her, allowing just one baserunner.

Brown led off the bottom of the first with an infield single, stole second and then advanced to third on a groundout. Gabby Callaway was hit by a pitch to put runners at the corners before Hemphill dropped a single into shallow center to score Brown and give the Tide an early 1-0 lead. Later with two runners in scoring position and two out, back-to-back singles by Reagan Dykes and Sydney Booker tacked on another pair of runs, making it 3-0 before a runner was caught in a rundown to end the bottom of the first.

Arkansas went hitless over the first two innings but led off the bottom of the third with back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt moved the two runners into scoring position. On a hard grounder to Hemphill at first, the runner at third broke for home and Hemphill threw down to Dykes covering the plate for the second out of the inning before a fly ball to center ended the half-inning and kept it a 3-0 game.

In the top of the fourth, Nicole Schroeder got the Razorbacks on the board with a two-out solo home run to cut the Tide’s lead to 3-1. With the score the same in the top of the sixth, a leadoff single by Arkansas ended Littlejohn’s outing as Alabama turned to Osorio in relief. A ground ball to second base allowed Alabama to get out of the inning with a 4-6-3 double play, still leading by two.

A solo home run by Hemphill in the bottom of the sixth added some insurance to make it 4-1, which proved enough as Arkansas did not score in the top of the seventh with the Crimson Tide holding on for the three-run victory.

Next, Alabama will advance to play fourth-seeded Texas A&M (42-9) on Thursday, May 11 at 11 a.m. CT on SEC Network.

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