The No. 7 ranked Alabama (41-12, 13-11 SEC) softball team returned to Tuscaloosa this weekend looking to bounce back from three-game sweep on the road against LSU on May 4, but the Kentucky Wildcats (38-17, 13-11 SEC) had other plans. The Wildcats would take the weekend series from Alabama in a rare back-to-back series sweep to end regular season play.
The Crimson Tide came into Saturday’s first game of the double header looking to break a three-game losing streak. Leslie Jury got the start for the Tide and went five innings allowing five hits and five runs before handing the game over to Lauren Sewell in relief. Jury (15-6) would be credited with the loss after the Wildcats held Alabama scoreless and won by a final of 5-0. Kelsey Nunley (24-7) earned the win for Kentucky allowing just four hits in seven innings of work. The loss marked the first time that Alabama’s softball team had lost four straight games since 2004.
Junior pitcher Jackie Traina (18-6) got the start in the second game and wouldn’t disappoint. Traina allowed only two hits and struck out four in just three innings of work. Lauren Sewell provided relief for the final two innings and allowed just two innings. The Tide would take game two of the series by a final of 14-0. Junior Molly Fichtner and freshman Leona Lafaele combined for back-to-back home runs in the first inning and the Tide never looked back. Traina earned the win while Lauren Cumbess (10-7) earned the loss in just a third of an inning pitched after allowing five earned runs off of four hits.
Game three proved to be a back-and-forth battle for most of the game. The Tide was able to overcome a five-run deficit but fell in extra innings to the Wildcats by a final of 9-5. Leslie Jury was tagged with the loss after allowing six runs on five hits in three innings of work. Jackie Traina saw some late inning work in relief and gave up three runs on two hits in four and two-thirds innings of work. Kelsey Nunley went the distance for Kentucky earning the win after tossing 188 pitches on the afternoon.
The Tide’s late season slump cost them a couple of seeds in the upcoming SEC Tournament. Alabama will face No. 9 seed Texas A&M as the No. 8 seeded team on May 8. The SEC has yet to release a start time for the game. The SEC Softball Championship will be hosted by the Kentucky Wildcats this year in Lexington, Kentucky.
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