TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The East Carolina softball team wrapped up play at the Bama Bash in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Sunday afternoon with an 8-0 loss to Alabama. ECU is now 4-4 on the year while Alabama remains undefeated at 8-0. The game with the Crimson Tide, this week’s No. 1 team in both polls, marked the highest-ranked opponent East Carolina has ever faced. Despite the loss, the Pirates were the first team on the weekend to not be run-ruled in five innings by the Crimson Tide.
The hosts wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, plating two in the bottom of the first. First-team All-America third baseman Kelley Montalvo led off the inning with a double to left center and was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. Another first-team All-America selection, Charlotte Morgan, then drew a walk to put runners on the corners. Freshman Amanda Locke followed with a short fly ball into right field that forced out Morgan at second base but drove in Montalvo, putting the Tide ahead 1-0. Lauren Parker finished the damage for Alabama in the first, as her single up the middle scored Locke.
Alabama pitcher Kelsi Dunne, an honorable mention All-America selection last year as a freshman, retired the first four Pirates, three via strikeouts, before Angel Barrella worked a walk in the top of the second. Charina Sumner then hit a hard line drive to left that was caught but Sarah Bibee’s single through the left side of the infield put two runners on base with two outs. Another strikeout by Dunne, however, ended the frame for ECU.
The Crimson Tide added another run in the second when Jazlyn Lunceford singled up the middle, stole second and scored as the throw from the Pirate catcher hit off a sliding Lunceford’s helmet and caromed into left center field.
The bottom of the third showed solid defense from the Pirates. Left fielder Marina Gusman-Brown had the first great play, cutting down the inning’s leadoff batter, Cassandra Reilly-Boccia, at second base after she tried to stretch her single into a double. Paisley then struck out Kellie Eubanks for the second time of the day and Tiffany Shaw threw out Parker trying to steal second base to end the inning.
ECU’s Cristen Aona was hit by a pitch in the top of the fourth to give the Pirates their third base runner of the day, but she advanced no farther than first base as a strikeout and groundout ended the inning.
Alabama staged a two-out rally in the fourth inning, putting two on after the first two outs were made. Morgan then stepped up to the plate and Paisley struck her out looking to end the threat.
In the bottom of the fifth, however, the Pirates could not keep the Crimson Tide off the board. A walk and an error put the first two batters of the inning on the corners. One out later, Eubanks redeemed herself for her two earlier strikeouts and knocked in a run with a single, putting Alabama ahead 4-0. Lunceford then hit a three-run home run to right field for a 7-0 lead.
The game ended in the bottom of the sixth when Alabama scored Whitney Larson led off with a double and scored on a Kendall Dawson single to right field.
Overall for the Crimson Tide, Dunne fanned 12 batters, the first time ECU had struck out 10 or more times since April 29, 2008, when Virginia Tech’s All-America Angela Tincher struck out 15.
East Carolina’s Kaui Tom was also named to the all-tournament team.
The Pirates now have nearly a full week off before playing at the Seminole Classic in Tallahassee, Fla., next weekend. East Carolina opens the tournament facing Michigan and Florida State, both 2008 NCAA Regional participants, on Saturday.