Alabama Softball Takes SEC Title

After Alabama ace pitcher Jackie Traina was the losing pitcher in the critical three-game series against Florida this weekend, the Crimson Tide had almost no choice but to come back with the sophomore for the second game. She won on Saturday and then returned to the circle on Sunday to pitch and win the deciding third game.



Alabama defeated Florida 5-3 on Sunday in the final game of Southeastern Conference regular season play to win the title outright. It was Bama's third consecutive SEC softball championship and fourth in history.

"It's just a great moment," Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said. "You have to come out and win today to win it outright. It's just a great feeling. I'm proud of these young ladies. Everyone has just done an incredible job, and to come out and do this is just awesome. And for those six seniors, they've really worked extremely hard for four years and they really earned this SEC championship."

Alabama improved to 47-6 on the year and 23-5 in the SEC, while Florida dropped to 44-10 overall, 21-7 in the SEC. The Tide claimed the title despite not receiving a single vote to do so in the SEC preseason coaches poll.

Sophomore Jackie Traina threw every pitch for Alabama on the weekend, improving to 31-2 on the year. Traina gave up three runs on five hits and struck out six batters. Hannah Rogers took the loss for the Gators, falling to 26-6 after failing to record an out in the first inning.

Junior Kayla Braud set the tone atop the lineup with three hits, including two doubles while scoring two runs. The top six hitters in the Tide lineup tallied at least one hit in the title clinching win.

Shortly after the completion of the game, the SEC announced its 2012 Softball Tournament field Alabama claiming the No. 1 seed. The tournament will be hosted by the Crimson Tide at Rhoads Stadium Thursday through Saturday and the entire tournament will be televised live on the ESPN family of networks. The three quarterfinal games and the semifinals will air on ESPNU, while the fourth quarterfinal game and the championship will air primetime on ESPN at 7 p.m. (CDT).

This will be gthe 16th consecutive SEC Tournament appearance for the Tide. Tennessee is the second seed and winner of the Eastern Division and Florida, also making its 16th appearance, is the third seed.

Alabama will open the tournament Thursday playing Mississippi State, the eight seed, at 7 p.m. CDT. Other Thursday first round games are Florida vs. LSU at 11 a.m., Tennessee vs. Auburn at 1:30, and Georgia vs. Kentucky at 4 p.m.

Tickets for the single-elimination tournament can be purchased through the Alabama Athletic Ticket Office by visiting www.rolltide.com.

"I'm excited and relieved," Traina said. "I'm more excited than anything. When I pitched that last pitch and I saw (Kayla) Braud catch it, I was excited. We did it; it's so exciting. They're a great team. I just went out there and threw my pitches. Every inning I told the girls that the ball is going to come to you. Just be ready. I believed in my team and we really came together this weekend."

Alabama once again pounced on Florida early, by plating four runs in the opening frame. The Tide loaded the bases before recording an out and Hunt continued to pour in the RBI as she lined a double down the line in left to score Braud and Fenton. The hit also chased Florida ace Hannah Rogers.

The Tide continued its scoring when Traina hit a single to right to plate Locke. Reilly-Boccia then capped off the scoring with a bloop single to left to bring in Hunt.

After batting through the lineup in the first inning, Alabama was not done as it scored another run in the second to move its lead to 5-0. Braud led off the frame with a double and then moved to third on a Fenton sac bunt. Braud then scored when Locke hit a sac-fly to center.

A crowd of 3,659 was on hand for the game. For the weekend Bama had a school record 10,547 fans for the three-game series.

Alabama heads to New York for its final regular season contest of the year as it will face Fordham on Monday with first pitch slated for 5 p.m. CDT, in the Bronx.

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