Alabama Softball Sweeps Auburn

The No. 2 ranked Alabama softball team swept rival Auburn in its Southeastern Conference opening doubleheader Wednesday evening at Rhoads Stadium. The Crimson Tide won game one, 6-1 and then downed the Tigers, 8-2, in game two. After the day, Alabama improves to 26-1 overall and 2-0 in league play while Auburn moves to 22-4 on the season and 3-2 in SEC action.

"The crowd was amazing tonight," Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said. "I wish I could thank everyone who came individually. "It was a great day for college softball, especially to see Kelsi (Dunne) get her 1,000th strikeout. I think there was a lot of pressure on her shoulders just to get that first strikeout and once she got that, she calmed down and got 14."

The pair of victories gives Alabama 15 straight wins over its rival, dating back to the 2006 season. In the nightcap against the Tigers, Alabama set its single game attendance record as 3256 fans came to Rhoads Stadium. The mark eclipsed the 3218 that witnessed the NCAA Super Regional contest against Hawaii last season on May 29.

Senior Kelsi Dunne eclipsed 1,000 strikeouts as she tallied her milestone moment in the first inning. The senior now sports 1013 punchouts for her career, which ranks third all-time behind Shelley Laird (1045) and Stephanie VanBrakle (1113).

Sophomore Kayla Braud has reached base in 46 consecutive games as she tallied a hit in each contest on Wednesday. The streak is just two off the school record of 48 set by Kelly Kretschman in 1998.

Game 1

Alabama opened its conference slate with a 6-1 win over rival Auburn. Dunne fanned 14 to eclipse the 1,000 strikeout mark for her career. The Tide plated six runs on seven hits, all coming from a different player.

Freshman Kaila Hunt and junior Jazlyn Lunceford went deep for Alabama. Dunne went the distance to improve to 11-1 on the season. The senior scattered five hits and allowed one run while walking two.

After loading the bases, Dunne earned her 1,000 career strikeout when she fanned Kelsey Cartwright on three consecutive pitches in the first inning. Dunne got out of the inning unscathed as she induced a groundball from Kelley Smiley.

In her first conference at-bat of her career, Hunt hit a lined shot over the wall in left-center to give Alabama the early 1-0 lead in the second inning.

Auburn answered in the top of the third when freshman Morgan Estell hit a solo home run over the wall in right field to tie the score, 1-1. The run broke Dunne's scoreless streak at 21 2/3 innings as she had not allowed a run since March 4, against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Alabama was then able to score three runs on a high fly ball to right off the bat of Amanda Locke that got lost in the sun. Senior Whitney Larsen and junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia scored on the hit and then Locke came all the way around to score on a throwing error by the second baseman to give the Tide a 4-1 lead.

Lunceford added to the Tide lead when she uncorked a prodigious shot half way up the tiered seating in the Brickyard in right field to give Alabama the final 6-1 advantage. The homer was her third of the season and plated Braud from third.

Game 2

Freshman Jackie Traina improved to 11-0 on the season and smashed her 12th home run as she led Alabama to a sweep over rival Auburn with an 8-2 win.

Traina went the distance as she scattered five hits, allowed two runs – one earned, and struck out nine with no walks. She also batted 1-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.

Reilly-Boccia and Braud both collected two hits apiece as Alabama collected nine hits and took advantage of four Auburn errors in the win.

After Morgan Estell led off the game with a home run for Auburn, Traina got that run back and more. The rookie hit her 12th home run, this time hitting a two-run lined shot over the wall in center to score Lunceford and give Alabama a 2-1 lead.

Alabama added three runs in the second inning. Lunceford doubled to right-center to plate junior Kendall Dawson and Braud was able to score on an error. Larsen then followed with a double of her own to score Lunceford.

The Tide added two more in the third when freshman pinch-runner Ryan Iamurri scored on an illegal pitch and then sophomore Courtney Conley drove in Dawson on a sac-fly to centerfield.

The Tide closed out its scoring with a single run in the sixth. Conley proved to be the second Alabama player to score on an illegal pitch to move the score to the final 8-1 margin.

Alabama will now host No. 1 Georgia in its first SEC weekend series of the season. The Tide and Bulldogs will open play on Friday, March 18 with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m.

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