Alabama goes 14 innings to save season, beats Tennessee 3-2 to force game three

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kristen White’s infield chopper with the bases loaded allowed Lauren Johnson to score from third base and Alabama forced a third game, beating Tennessee 3-2 on Saturday in 14 innings in the longest Super Regional game in college women’s softball history.

The winner of Sunday’s game will face UCLA at the Women’s College World Series starting Thursday. The sixth-seeded Bruins swept No. 11-seed Georgia in a Super Regional.

The Crimson Tide’s (37-18) Johnson led off the bottom of the 14th with a first-pitch single to left field off Tennessee pitcher Karlyn Pickens. Riley Valentine followed with a double to left that Tennessee’s Rylie West just missed catching down the line to put runners at second and third.

Pickens then intentionally walked No. 9-hitter Kali Heivlin to set up a force at home. After fouling off the first pitch, White chopped it to Tennessee shortstop Laura Mealer whose throw home was late, allowing Johnson to score.

It was the longest game in Tennessee’s (44-11) history. Tennessee stranded 18 runners.

Kayla Beaver threw more than 160 pitches in relief for Alabama and Pickens threw more than 120 for the Vols.

After reaching on an infield single to shortstop in the bottom of the 12th, White stole second. But with two out, she was thrown out trying to steal third to end the inning. Earlier, in the same inning, Valentine got thrown out after she singled high off the wall and tried to stretch the play into a double.

The Crimson Tide knotted the game at 2-2 when Bailey Dowling hit a solo homer on a 2-1 pitch in the bottom of the fourth. In the top of the fourth, Tennessee’s Sophia Nugent hit a solo homer for a 2-1 advantage.

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AP college sports: https://apnews.com/hub/college-sports

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