Alabama softball storms back to beat Chattanooga to make NCAA regional final vs. Stanford

·3 min read

Alabama softball advanced to the championship round of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional with a 6-2 win over Chattanooga in an elimination game Saturday night, the second win over the Mocs in as many days.

The Crimson Tide (43-12) bounced back from losing to Stanford earlier in the day and will play the Cardinal on Sunday at 10 a.m. CT after having its streak of 44 consecutive wins in regional play snapped. Alabama will have to beat Stanford (38-19) twice to advance to the best-of-three super regional round.

Sunday's play was originally scheduled for 1 p.m. CT but was moved up due to the threat of severe weather.

Jenna Johnson set the tone against Chattanooga with a leadoff home run in the first inning. She added a squeeze bunt to score Savannah Woodard in her next at-bat, extending the lead to 2-0 in the third. The offense kept the pressure on, scoring in five of seven innings.

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Here are three things we learned:

Speaking it into existence

"We need to score first, get a good start from our pitcher and play good defense," said Alabama coach Patrick Murphy earlier this week.

Alabama's success seems to depend largely on whether it is able to score first or not. On Saturday night, the Crimson Tide jumped out to a 1-0 lead courtesy of Johnson's shot, her fifth of the year. It was Johnson's first time in the leadoff spot since March 20. Johnson got three hits over two games Saturday.

Ally Shipman doubled and scored the third run in the fourth inning after a Woodard sacrifice fly. Jenna Lord singled, scoring Kat Grill and Woodard's second run of the game to make it 5-1 in the sixth inning. Shipman's fifth hit of the regional extended the lead to five runs in the seventh.

Alabama is outscoring opponents 52-17 in the first inning and is 18-3 when scoring in the first frame. The Crimson Tide is 31-4 after taking the first lead of the game.

Alabama scored first in Friday's opener against Chattanooga as well, a three-run third inning.

Jenna Johnson highlight: ESPN announcer calls home run on Alabama softball's catch at the wall for out

May 21, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama left fielder Jenna Johnson (88) and Alabama infielder Jenna Lord (11) celebrate a catch at the wall by Johnson. Stanford defeated Alabama 6-0 in the winners bracket of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Saturday at Rhoads Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News
May 21, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama left fielder Jenna Johnson (88) and Alabama infielder Jenna Lord (11) celebrate a catch at the wall by Johnson. Stanford defeated Alabama 6-0 in the winners bracket of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Saturday at Rhoads Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

Defense a high point

Jaala Torrence needed just eight pitches to get through the first inning and managed to get out a jam with two Mocs on base with one out in both the second and fourth innings with just one run allowed. Torrence (7-2, 2.89 ERA) finished with two strikeouts on two earned runs on five hits allowed in 6⅓ innings pitched. Montana Fouts (23-7, 2.03 ERA) closed out the Mocs with a strikeout and foul out in her 13th relief appearance.

Alabama has only committed one error in the regional.

Pitcher Lexi Kilfoyl did not appear for the ninth consecutive game, but Murphy said she has been throwing bullpens this week.

Highlights: Alabama vs. Chattanooga Mocs softball video highlights, score in 2022 NCAA Tournament game

May 21, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama catcher Ally Shipman (34) jumps out to field a bunt. Stanford defeated Alabama 6-0 in the winners bracket of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Saturday at Rhoads Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News
May 21, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama catcher Ally Shipman (34) jumps out to field a bunt. Stanford defeated Alabama 6-0 in the winners bracket of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Saturday at Rhoads Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

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May 21, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama first baseman Kaylee Tow (12) and Alabama outfielder Kat Grill (32) watch from the dugout as teammates bat. Stanford defeated Alabama 6-0 in the winners bracket of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Saturday at Rhoads Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News
May 21, 2022; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama first baseman Kaylee Tow (12) and Alabama outfielder Kat Grill (32) watch from the dugout as teammates bat. Stanford defeated Alabama 6-0 in the winners bracket of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional Saturday at Rhoads Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-The Tuscaloosa News

What's next

The Crimson Tide needs to beat Stanford twice Sunday to advance. The Cardinal needs just one win to advance.

Sunday's winner will face the winner of the Knoxville Regional next weekend. The Vols have advanced to their regional final.

Reach Brett Greenberg at bgreenberg@gannett.com or follow @74talk on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Alabama softball bounces back to beat Chattanooga, advance to regional final