Softball edged out for SEC title

ATHENS, GA -- The No. 17 ranked Alabama softball team closed out the regular season portion of its schedule with a 12-4 loss to the No. 8 Georgia Bulldogs here this afternoon. <br><br>Despite the loss the Crimson Tide still gained the SEC Western Division Championship, the first in program history.

Alabama tied Georgia with the best record in the conference at 22-8, but the Bulldogs clinched the regular season title by winning this weekend's series. The Tide finished the regular season at 41-19.

It was a game of big shots as the two squads combined for six home runs, including the Dogs' two-run shot that closed out the game in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Georgia (54-10, 23-6 SEC) wasted no time taking an early 2-0 lead on two hits and an Alabama error in the bottom of the first inning.

Alabama (41-19, 22-8) answered in the top of the second though courtesy of back-to-back home runs from Lacy Prejean and Stephanie VanBrakle, tying the game at 2-2. It was the second time in her career that Michelle Green gave up back-to-back home runs to Alabama. Prejean and Jackie McClain did it in a 2-1 win over the Bulldogs in Tuscaloosa in the 2002 season.

Georgia came right back in the bottom of the second on a two-run home run from Barber to claim a 4-2 lead.

Alabama threatened in the top of the third with Ashley Courtney reaching on a leadoff walk. She was sacrificed to third by Jennifer Reach. Jackie McClain then lifted a long fly ball to right field that appeared to be headed out, but Georgia right fielder Courtney Knight made a catch with her back right up against the fence.

Alabama did tie it in the top of the fourth inning after VanBrakle drew a walk and was pinch run for by Angela Johnson. Following a fielder's choice and a fly out, Capper Reed delivered her first home run of the season, a two-run shot over the left center field fence to tie it at 4-4.

The Bulldogs would not go away though, taking advantage of yet another Alabama error that opened the flood gates with the Bulldogs scoring four runs on three hits to take an 8-4 lead.

Georgia added two more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on a two-run home run from Barber for a 10-4 lead.

Jennifer Wright (8-9) took the loss for the Tide in relief, while Reed paced the Tide offensively going 2-3 with a home run and two RBI

While the regular season is over, the post season fun begins this week as the Crimson Tide travels to Plant City, Florida for the 2003 SEC Tournament set to begin on Wednesday.

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