TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The entire season comes down to one game.
Although the Alabama softball team jumped out to a four-run lead Friday night, Texas stormed back to to knot the Tuscaloosa Super Regional with a 7-5 victory at Rhoads Stadium.
Saturday's game (1 p.m., ESPN) will be winner-take-all, with a spot at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City on the line.
“It was a long game and a weird game,” Crimson Tide coach Patrick Murphy said afterward. “Credit Texas for coming back. The two home runs were huge for them.”
Those two home runs came from catcher Mary Iacopo and outfielder, and Hoover, Ala. product, MK Tedder.
For Iacopo the game-tying three-run shot was redemption. Earlier in the game she accidentally hit ace pitcher Miranda Elish in the face with an errant throw, sending her teammate to DCH Medical Center in an ambulance.
For Tedder, it was a statement against a team 45 minutes from her home.
“(Alabama) recruited me some when I was a lot younger,” she said, “It just wasn’t the place for me because I wanted to go away from home and become a better person.”
Texas Coach Mike White added: “Our backs were to the wall. We had to come out fighting.
“We know Alabama is a class act. And they’re going to come out strong (Saturday).”
The momentum of the game changed shortly after the injury when Iacopo went deep off freshman pitcher Montana Fouts to tie the score at 4-4.
“You could feel a little shift … and then the wheels kind of started falling off,” said Alabama junior first baseman Bailey Hemphill, who hit her 24th home run to help Alabama (56-8) build its early lead.
It also put her one shy of Kelly Kretschman’s single-season Crimson Tide record of 25, which has stood since 1998, and within three RBIs of Marisa Runyon’s single-season record of 80 in 2015.
“Sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” said sophomore outfielder KB Sides, the only Alabama player to garner two hits in Game 2.
Asked about his star pitcher’s prognosis, White said, “(Elish) is going to be OK. We just have to run more tests. She needs to see a surgeon to see what action is next. (The ball) hit her on the side of the nose and cheekbone. It was flush and pretty horrific.”
Murphy’s decision to call on Fouts (18-5) in relief of starter Krystal Goodman backfired as Fouts gave up both home runs, four runs (three earned) and lasted but two-thirds of an inning.
Goodman re-entered and finished the game.
Murphy said Sarah Cornell, the SEC Pitcher of the Year, was available but he chose not to use her. Cornell is 21-1 with a 2.39 ERA and Texas (46-16) hasn’t seen her pitch in person.
Alabama’s goal all year has been to get back to Oklahoma City for the first time since 2016.
“You need to have a short term memory,” Sides noted.
Murphy added, “You can’t dwell on negatives. We’re the home team (Saturday). That’s the best part.”