CLEVELAND, Miss. – The No. 5 University of Alabama in Huntsville softball team split its conference opener on Sunday, defeating Delta State 5-1 in the day's first contest before dropping a 4-3 decision in extra innings in the nightcap. UAH now owns a 17-6 (1-1 Gulf South
Conference) record on the season, and the Lady Statesmen move to 11-12
In the 5-1 victory, Whitney Toler (8-2) was masterful as she carried a perfect game into the fourth inning before finally surrendering a hit with one out in the frame. She finished the game giving up just five hits and allowing one run, and she walked just one while striking out five DSU batters.
With Toler cruising along, the Chargers took the lead in their half of the fourth as Kellie Johnson singled in Morgan Hopkins who was pinch running for Cortney McNett after McNett opened the inning with a single to center.
The score remained 1-0 until the Blue and White tacked on some insurance in the top half of the seventh as UAH sent nine batters to the plate and scored four times in the frame. Stephanie Needham had an RBI double in the inning, while Abby MacKay, Kathryn Whitlock, and Meagan Billingsley also all drove in a run in the big inning.
Ashleigh Allgood (6-6) picked up the loss for DSU.
The day's second contest was a back-and-forth affair that started out with the Chargers taking advantage of a Lady Statesmen miscue to claim a 1-0 lead in the second. With Johnson at second and Kelli Long at first, the Chargers executed a double-steal, and Johnson was able to scurry home on the play as the DSU catcher's throw was errant.
Long finished the day with three more stolen bases to now sit at a perfect 21-for-21 on the year in steal attempts.
A pair of Delta runs in the bottom of the third produced UAH's first deficit of the day at 2-1, but Hopkins scored in the fifth to knot the contest at 2-2.
Delta State threatened to regain the advantage in their half of the inning, but some solid UAH defense kept the game deadlocked. The squad thwarted a DSU sacrifice bunt attempt by throwing out the lead runner at second for the first out, and then the strong UAH infield turned a
5-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Extending her hitting streak to 10 games, Long homered to right in the sixth to put the Chargers on top 3-2, but the hosts answered immediately with a run of their own in the frame to tie the contest once more and ultimately force extra innings where the Lady Statesmen won with a run in the eighth.
Whitney Gilbert started in the circle for UAH and did not factor into the decision as she struck out four while giving up four hits and two runs, and Christina Boczek (4-1) completed the game for the Blue and White and was saddled with her first setback of the season.
Brittany Gonzalez (4-4) went the distance for Delta State and earned the victory.
After outhitting the Lady Statesmen 13-5 in the first contest, the Chargers were even with Delta in hits in the second contest as both teams recorded eight. UAH's undoing in the second contest was leaving
11 runners on base.
Needham had quite the day as she was 4-for-4 at the plate in the first game and finished the day with six hits. Billingsley notched a pair of hits in the first game, while McNett and Johnson had a multi-hit performance in the second contest as both picked up a pair.
The Chargers will return to action on Monday as they venture to Memphis to take on Christian Brothers at noon.