Tide Softball Wins SEC Championship

The drama lasted a full weekend. The Alabama softball team was ranked third in the nation, but a mid-season slump had the Crimson Tide on the brink of being unable to repeat its 2010 Southeastern Conference regular season championship. Bama had a tall order for the final weekend of regular play, not only completing its work, but also getting some help.

Alabama did its part. The Crimson Tide had to have a three-game sweep of Ole Miss in Oxford to have any chance at the championship. On Sunday, Bama got its third consecutive win over the Rebels by a 10-1 margin.

By Sunday, it was all in Alabama's court. That's because the help the Tide had needed was Florida winning at least two games against league-leading Tennessee in Gainesville. The Gators won the first two games of the series so that Alabama had its destiny in its hands on Sunday.

With the win, Alabama improved to 19-6 in SEC play. That's a .760 winning percentage. The best the winner of Sunday's Florida-Tennessee game could do was 21-7, which is .750.

The SEC regular season championship is Bama's third. Alabama's overall record is now 45-7.

Alabama will be returning to the Ole Miss Softball Complex later this week as the number one seed in the SEC Tournament. The Tide is also SEC Tournament defending champion.

The Tide will open tournament play against Mississippi State on Thursday at a time to be announced later.

"This was for Tuscaloosa and all the communities in Alabama that were hit by the tornadoes," Tide Coach Patrick Murphy said. "It's great to bring home an SEC championship two years in a row and we can't wait to celebrate with the people in Tuscaloosa."

Junior Jennifer Fenton drove in four runs and collected two hits while senior Kelsi Dunne (23-3) went the distance to lead Alabama to the championship clinching win. Dunne tossed seven innings, allowed one run on six hits and struck out six in the winning effort.

"We knew this weekend we were playing for more than just ourselves," Dunne said. "That is exactly what we came out here and did. We thought about everybody back at home who has supported us and we wanted to come out here and play for them. Our community means everything to us."

Alabama opened the scoring by plating three runs in the second inning without recording a hit. Juniors Cassie Reilly-Boccia and Kendall Dawson scored on a wild pitch. Reilly-Boccia scored the conventional way but Dawson was able to score all the way from second as the catcher tossed the ball past the pitcher for an error.

The Tide capped off the scoring in the frame when Fenton hit a sacrifice fly that was caught at the wall in center that scored sophomore Courtney Conley from third.

In the third inning Alabama was the recipient of consecutive bases-loaded walks, to Conley and and Kayla Braud to make it 5-0.

Fenton provided the first runs off a hit as she tattooed a double off the wall in left-center with two outs in the fifth to score Conley from second and Braud from first. The two-run double extended the Tide lead to 7-1.

Fenton tallied her fourth RBI of the ballgame when she hit a flare into left field to score Conley from third. Braud and Fenton both scored the final runs of the game later in the seventh on wild pitches

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