FT. MYERS, Fla. - A fateful gust of wind may have been the difference between victory and defeat in Wichita State's 2-0 loss to defending national champion and current No. 1 ranked team Alabama, Friday afternoon at the FGCU Softball Complex in Ft. Myers, Fla.
Playing a top ranked team for the first time in school history, the Shockers (1-6) provided a stiff test for the defending champs. Katie Armagost was stellar in the pitching circle throwing her third consecutive complete game allowing six hits and striking out two in six innings of work.
Alabama (8-0) scored their first run of the game on an RBI single from All-American Jackie Traina that tipped off the glove of diving first baseman Megan McCracken. The ball ricocheted far enough towards second base to allow leadoff hitter Haylie McCleney to score from third and gave the Crimson Tide a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Following a scoreless second inning Alabama's Kaila Hunt roped a one-out solo home run over the left centerfield fence to double the Crimson Tide lead, 2-0.
Leslie Jury kept the Shocker hitters off balance for most of the game surrendering only one hit, a single by Brittany Fortner in the second inning, and striking out nine Shockers.
In the bottom of the fifth inning McCleney led off for Alabama with a bunt single and proceeded to steal second and third base bringing Hunt back to the plate with only one out. Hunt hit a fly ball to left that Fortner caught on the run and fired home a step ahead of McCleney attempting to tag from third causing a collision with Jaegers. Jaegers managed to hold on to the ball for the third out of the inning but emerged with an apparent injury to her glove hand.
Jury ran into trouble in the top of the sixth when Ali Vandever reached on a throwing error by Hunt at shortstop. Erin Carney, pinch-hitting for the shaken up Jaegers, was then hit in the left elbow to place runners at first and second base with one out. Laura Vickers came to the plate next and launched a deep fly ball to left field that appeared to be hit well enough for a home run but fell just short hitting a strong wind gust blowing directly in from left field. The ball landed in the glove of Alabama defender Andrea Hawkins a step in front of the left field fence.
That was the last rally for the fired up Shockers, who went quietly in the seventh inning.
Wichita State will play two games against Appalachian State to end their time at the La Quinta Inn and Suites Tournament beginning tonight with approximately a 7:15 p.m. (CST) first pitch.