Alabama Crimson Tide softball needed just one run to squeak past the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in game three of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regionals on Sunday. Valencia alumna Ally Shipman delivered that run when it mattered most.
Shipman blasted a solo leadoff home run out past left field on the first pitch she saw in the top of the seventh. The former Viking’s sixth homer of the year was the only score of the game and enough to push Alabama to the Super Regionals of the NCAA Softball Division I Championship tournament.
Shipman was the only Tide player with two hits on the day.
Alabama pitcher Jaala Torrence had kept Middle Tennessee off the scoreboard all day and went in for the kill in the bottom of the seventh. Torrence and her catcher, Shipman, retired their first two batters before the tying run got on base with a two-out single.
Torrence had to face the only batter to get the better of her on the day, Blue Raiders left fielder Savannah Behabetz. The outfielder entered the final at-bat 2-for-2 against Torrence on the day, but Behabetz struck out looking to send the Tide to the Super Regionals.
The Tide took the series with the decisive 1-0 win. Alabama won the first game, 12-5, before dropping game two, 4-1. Shipman finished each of the first two games hitless but stepped up in game three to lead her team to victory.
The hosting Alabama (43-19) will welcome the Northwestern Wildcats (41-11) for a best-of-three weekend series. The winner will head to the NCAA Softball World Series. The Crimson Tide will battle to return to the World Series after being dropped in the Regional Finals last season.
Northwestern enters the series on a seven-game win streak and will aim to make the World Series for the second straight season.
Alabama hosts Northwestern in game one on Friday at 5 p.m. PDT.