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March 24, 2013TUSCALOOSA | Revenge was served cold Saturday at Rhoads Stadium. Wet, too, and very windy.
A day after Auburn snapped the University of Alabama softball team's 18-game winning streak over the Tigers, the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide stormed back for a 13-1 victory in front of a sellout crowd of 3,940.
Neither sheets of misty rain nor 30 mph gusts nor nippy cold could dissuade an Alabama team that had huddled for a 15-minute, players-only meeting before the game to talk over the previous day's upset defeat.
"We didn't come out and play Alabama softball (Saturday)," said shortstop Kaila Hunt, who went 2-for-2 with two RBIs. "It wasn't what we're used to, what we're capable of.
"We wanted to come out and attack. We wanted to be fiery. The message before the game was if you get them down, step on their throat."
Alabama's vengeance wasn't exacted with four or five clubbing home runs. Rather it was done in painstaking fashion, like a mobster busting knuckles with a ball-peen hammer, one at a time, as Alabama pounded out 11 hits, all singles.
The Crimson Tide took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, scoring a run on an error and another on Jadyn Spencer's RBI single, but the torture didn't begin until the bottom of the third.
Alabama loaded the bases, and then spent roughly 45 minutes raking over the Tigers before the inning came to a close, 11 runs and 15 batters later.
Crack - single by Spencer, two runs scored.
Whack - another single from pinch hitter Leona Lafaele, bringing home two more runs.
Bang - freshman outfielder Haylie McCleney with a two-RBI single up the middle.
Another crack - two runs driven home by Hunt's single.
You get the picture.
Auburn sure did. The UA winning streak that ran from 2006 through 2013 might be over, but nothing has changed. Alabama still owns the Tigers.
"It's so disappointing when you have such a long winning streak against somebody, especially against your rival, and just kind of lay an egg," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "Fortunately we came on the right side today."
Said Spencer, who went 2-for-3 to drive in three runs, "We were just waiting for that inning this weekend to break out of our shell."
Before that big outburst came the psychological torture. Alabama allowed Auburn to load the bases in the top of the third inning with no outs, but refused to let the Tigers score.
Twice the Tigers hit grounders to Spencer at first base. Both times she fielded the ball and calmly, even casually, threw home to get the lead runner out and keep Auburn off the scoreboard.
"The first one was way too passive," Murphy said of Spencer's throws to home. "The second one was better. She got told that afterwards."
The third out came on a harmless pop-up, and Alabama's merciless onslaught began as soon as UA came up to the plate in the bottom of the inning.
Alabama ace Jackie Traina (14-2) dished out her own revenge from the pitching circle. Auburn broke up her no-hitter in the fourth, finally plating a run, but Traina allowed just one hit.
Alabama improved to 29-4 overall, 6-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Auburn fell to 21-13, 2-7 in the SEC.
Alabama will visit Houston on Wednesday on a spring break swing. The Crimson Tide will visit Texas A&M for a three-game SEC set Friday through Sunday.
Reach Tommy Deas at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-722-0224.