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TUSCALOOSA, Alabama---Alabama knew its opportunities might be few and far between in its matchup against No. 11 South Alabama, which started Farish Beard, the nation's leader in earned run average at 0.43.But the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide 32-5) took advantage of once chance early and rode it to a 3-0 win at Rhoads Stadium Wednesday to win its 16th in its last 17 outings.Sophomore outfielder Andrea Hawkins' three-run double in the second inning provided the game's only offense but it was all the production freshman pitcher Sydney Littlejohn, early, and senior, Jacyln Traina would need."The goal was for us to score first because I think they get better when they score first because obviously they have a great pitching staff with incredible stats." Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "The goal was for us to score first. I thought we were going to do it in the first inning but a two-out hit is awesome."The bases were loaded when Hawkins, approached the plate, after the Jaguars decided to walk Alabama standout lead-off hitter Haylie McCleney on four-straight unhittable pitches.Hawkins, a .304 hitter, coming into the game took it as a personal challenge."Those pressure situations are going to be a lot easier," Hawkins said. "Hayley, as soon as she got the walk, she was like 'Hawk, you know they're coming for you. They're doing it again. They're doing it again. They're doing it again'. And just her talking about it makes it a lot easier and it's gotten a lot easier."Hawkins slapped a blooper over the head of the shortstop's head in shallow left center and brought in McCleney, Ryan Iamurri, and Traina on a South Alabama error before being thrown between second and third to end the inning.Littlejohn, a Rusk, Texas native, went four innings, allowing three hits and striking out two while throwing 73 pitches. Traina allowed two hits in three innings of dominant work.It was a more than impressive stat line for the freshman who found out she'd be starting about two hours before gametime."I was pretty excited. I'm not gonna lie," Littlejohn said. "It was time for to be able to prove myself and show my team that I can do it and they always believe in me and I know that they're behind me, making plays, doing whatever they can to help me out. It's a really good confidence booster going out with that kind of defense behind me and knowing that they're going to score runs even if I'm not having a good day."Jadyn Spencer went 2-for-3 for Alabama and teammates Molly Fichtner, Kaila Hunt and Leona Lafaele also added hits.Emily Messer was 3-for-3 in a losing effort for USA (29-4).Beard gave up five hits and no earned runs while striking out four in the loss."I thought the biggest thing about tonight was we didn't take advantage of the opportunities that we had and they did," USA coach Becky Clark said. "They put the ball in play and it got down where we weren't."


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