Two Steps Forward, One Step Back
Alabama received 16 of the 20 first place votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and 24 of the 30 votes in the USA Today/NFCA poll.
In Knoxville, The Crimson Tide won the first game, 9-5 and then fell in the nightcap, 4-1. After the day Alabama moves to 30-2 overall and 6-1 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama opened its first SEC road contest of the season with a 9-5 victory over No. 11 Tennessee in the first game of the midweek doubleheader. Senior Kelsi Dunne improved to 14-1 on the season with the win in the circle while at the plate junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia collected two hits and drove in two runs. Junior Jennifer Fenton also tallied two hits and drove in three.
Dunne allowed five runs on seven hits and struck out eight while walking four. The win gives the right-hander 98 for her career, which moves her into sole possession of second all-time in the Alabama record books.
After a slow start for the Tide, scoring a single run in the third and fifth innings, Alabama erupted for three runs in the sixth and four more in the seventh to secure its 13th straight victory.
The Tide got on the board in the third inning when Reilly-Boccia singled to left to bring home junior Kendall Dawson. Alabama increased its lead to 2-0 in the fifth when Reilly-Boccia struck again with a lined shot off the wall in center to plate sophomore Kayla Braud.
Bama broke the game open in the sixth when it added three more runs. Fenton supplied the big hit when she singled up the middle to score freshman Kaila Hunt and sophomore Keima Davis.
Four more runs in the seventh capped off the scoring for Alabama. Sophomore Courtney Conley and Dawson were both hit by pitches with the bases loaded to get the inning going. An RBI single to left by Fenton and a RBI groundout by Braud capped off the game for the Tide.
Tennessee freshman pitcher Ellen Renfroe allowed just one run on two hits to hand Alabama its first conference loss of the season. The rookie fanned seven but walked six to earn the 4-1 win and improve to 14-2 on the season.
The loss in the circle for freshman Jackie Traina was her first of her collegiate career. Traina allowed four runs – three earned on seven hits and struck out nine in six innings.
Sophomore Kayla Braud and junior Jennifer Fenton were the only Tide players to record a hit in the contest. Braud has now reached base in a school-record 51 straight games.
After Tennessee took an early 2-0 lead with two runs in the fourth, Alabama cut the lead in half with a single run in the fifth.
Freshman Kaila Hunt drove in the only run for the Tide when she grounded out to Renfroe to bring home sophomore Courtney Conley from third.
The Lady Vols added two more in the sixth to secure the victory and improve to 24-5 overall and 2-3 in league play.
Alabama will return home to the friendly confines of Rhoads Stadium for a weekend series against Arkansas. The three-game set against the Razorbacks will begin on Friday with first pitch at 6:30 p.m. CDT.
The top two teams in the nation squared off over the weekend with then-No. 2 Alabama sweeping then-No.1 Georgia in three games. , leading Alabama to the No. 1 ranking. Alabama was the top ranked team in week three and has been the runner-up in three of the remaining five polls this season.
Along with the 3-0 sweep, Alabama beat then-No. 24 Auburn for an undefeated 5-0 SEC weekend. Georgia fell three spots to No. 4 after a 2-3 week which included a 2-0 record over South Carolina.
With a 4-0 record on the week, No.2 Florida advanced one spot after continuing SEC play with an undefeated record, with two wins against Mississippi State and two wins against Mississippi.
Michigan crept into the top three after a 4-1 weekend which included two wins over ranked opponents, then-No. 5 Arizona State, 1-0, and then-No. 7 Arizona, 8-0.
Washington suffered its first loss of the season against then-No.14 Texas and would go on to record a 4-2 weekend with its other loss to then-No.8 Oklahoma. Texas advanced four spots to crack the top 10 with a 6-0 record which included a perfect game against previously unbeaten Washington.
After sweeping previous No. 1 Georgia and rival Auburn last week, Alabama leap-frogged fellow SEC school Florida to take the top spot in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 polls for the first time since March 3, 2009.
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