Alabama Softball In World Series
Alabama's softball team battled back from a disappointing Thursday night loss to Stanford and defeated the Cardinal twice on Friday to earn the Crimson Tide's seventh trip to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
Alabama, the second seed in the NCAA Tournament, improved its record to 51-9.
Alabama had to win two games on Friday to win the Tuscaloosa Super Regional after Stanford had throttled the Crimson Tide in the first game of the best-of-three series at Rhoads Stadium.
After winning Friday's early game 10-0 in five innings, the Tide had to sweat out a 1-0 victory in the deciding game to earn the World Series berth. Stanford had won Thursday's game 5-2. Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said, "I can't explain to you guys the feeling that we had after yesterday's game. Obviously it was disappointing, but there was not a doubt in anyone's mind in the locker room. I think that if we could have, we would have played right after yesterday's game. We were so fired up. Yeah, it wasn't our best game; actually it was probably one of our worst. When we came out today there wasn't a doubt or hesitance. Whitney (Larsen) talked to us before the game and said, ‘We are going to be fearless today.' I think that we were all fearless. It was a lot of fun."
The Tide, which has advanced to 13 NCAA tournaments in its 15 years, has now won five Super Regional titles and returns to WCWS for the first time since earning back-to-back berths in 2008 and 2009.
Alabama rolled in the Super Regional's second game (and first game Friday to stay alive), scoring in every inning, and invoking the run rule to win 10-0 in five innings. The third game was a much tighter affair, with both teams grinding out four hits apiece, but only one of those crossing the plate.
The first game was highlighted by Jennifer Fenton, who had four hits and six runs batted in, including a grand slam home run.
Bama scored in all five innings.
Alabama ace Kelsi Dunne took the win to improve her record to 27-4.
Dunne, who was the losing pitcher Thursday, also started the second game Friday, but was relieved by freshman Jackie Traina, who not only finished the shutout, but also scored the only run of the game.
Traina, who singled in the bottom of the sixth inning, scored when junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia ripped a triple down the right-field line. Traina (18-5) came back in the top of the seventh and picked up her fifth strike out and forced two ground outs to finish off the game. Teagan Gerhart, who pitched 16 of the Cardinal's 18 innings over the three games, picked up the loss to go to 26-13 on the season.
Murphy said, "There are only eight schools, and you never know when you are going to do it again. This is the toughest part--getting there. For those two (Kelsi Dunne and Whitney Larsen) to get to go again is awesome. I hope that Jackie (Traina) starts on her road of four straight. It is just a great feeling for them."
The Tide coach was complimentary of Stanford, a team he said was "incredible. They have a great program with great coaches. I told them at the beginning when I gave them a tour around that I wish it wasn't them because I wanted to see them in Oklahoma City. I just respect the heck out of John (Rittman), his staff, his players; his team are a very classy group. They had one heck of a year. That was one of the best ball games we have had in the stadium, one of the best crowds, one of the best atmospheres. It was awesome."
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