Alabama Softball Plays At Tennessee

Alabama softball may be anxiously awaiting this week's national rankings. After the No. 2 Crimson Tide swept previously No. 1 Georgia in three games, Bama softball followers can be excused for doing the math. But Tide coaches and players can't be distracted from the task at hand, which is a doubleheader at Tennessee Tuesday.

Alabama (29-1 overall and 5-0 in Southeastern Conference games) goes to Knoxville to meet Tennessee (23-4 overall, 1-2 SEC) in a doubleheader that begins at 4 p.m. EDT (3 p.m. central time) at Tennessee's Lee Stadium.

Expect good pitching. In addition to Bama having All-America Kelsi Dunne, the SEC Players of the Week include Alabama freshman Jackie Traina as the Pitcher of the Week and Tennessee pitcher Ellen Renfroe as the Freshman of the Week.

Traina earned two wins and a save in her first week of action against league opponents. Traina sported a 1.79 ERA for the week and struck out 20 batters in 15 2/3 innings pitched. The right-hander held opposing batters to a .161 clip and allowed just nine hits. In her first start of the week, Traina struck out nine and allowed one earned run in a complete game win against Auburn. She struck out nine and did not walk a batter as she scattered five hits. Against No. 1 Georgia Traina allowed three earned runs in six innings and allowed four hits while striking out seven. In the finale against the Bulldogs the rookie pitched 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief and struck out four to earn her first career save. On the season Traina remains unblemished in the circle with a 12-0 record.

Tennessee's Renfroe posted a 2-0 record with 27 strikeouts last week in just 12.1 innings of work on her way to improving her season marks to a team-best 13-2 overall with a 1.51 ERA and 122 K's in 78.2 frames. She was almost perfect during Tennessee's 2-0 win over Iowa, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning before settling for a two-hit, complete-game shutout with a career-best 15 strikeouts. The 15-K game marked the first for any Lady Vol pticher since Monica Abbott struck out 17 at the 2007 WCWS. She hasn't allowed a run over her last 11.1 innings in the circle stretching over the last three contests.

Alabama opened its first week of conference play in impressive fashion as the Crimson Tide went a perfect 5-0 on the week. Alabama opened the league portion of its slate against its rival, No. 24 Auburn and earned a pair of victories in the doubleheader by the scores of 6-1 and 8-2, respectively. The Tide then played its first weekend series of the conference season and welcomed Georgia to Tuscaloosa. Alabama swept the series from the number one team in the country, earning a 2-1 win in the opener and then securing the series with a 6-4 win on Saturday. The Tide closed out the Bulldogs with a 9-5 win on Sunday. Overall Alabama outscored its competition 31-13 on the week and batted .269 with eight home runs and 26 RBI. The Tide pitched at a 2.00 clip and held opposing batters to a .176 batting average.

Individually freshman Kaila Hunt led Alabama at the plate with a .462 average (6-for-13) with a home run, two doubles and two runs scored. Fellow freshman Traina hit a pair of home runs, including a grand slam with a team-best six RBI, in addition to her pitching success. Sophomore Courtney Conley batted .273 (3-for-11) and equaled Traina with two home runs and six RBI. Sophomore Kayla Braud has now reached base in 49 straight games which breaks the school record of 48 set by Kelly Kretschman in 1998. Braud hit .333 (5-for15) on the week with two doubles and five runs. Kelsi Dunne eclipsed the 1,000 strikeout mark against Auburn, becoming the third Tide pitcher to do so. She enters the week with 1029 career strikeouts, nearing the 1045 mark of Shelley Laird. Dunne also earned her 97th career win which is tied for second with Stephanie VanBrakle in the UA annals.

The Lady Vols are hitting .379 while hitting 34 home runs and 208 RBI. UT is pitching at a 1.86 ERA and is holding its opponents to a .214 average. Individually Kat Dotson leads the team with a .494 average and has powered the team with 10 home runs and 50 RBI. Raven Chavanne closely follows with a .476 average and has added 18 stolen bases and 39 runs scored. In the circle Ellen Renfroe leads the team with a 1.51 ERA and a 13-2 record. She has struck out 122 in 78 2/3 innings pitched. Her older sister Ivy is 7-2 with a 2.40 ERA and has fanned 58 in 58 1/3 innings. The Lady Vols return eight starters and two pitchers to a team that finished the 2010 season with a 49-15 overall record and capped it off with a trip to the Women's College World Series.

Alabama holds a 29-14 all-time series lead over Tennessee, including a 10-7 mark in Knoxville.

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