Alabama Softball Reaches SEC Finals

In a pitchers' duel in the Southeastern Conference tournament, it's nice to have the SEC Pitcher of the Year on your side. Jackie Traina continued her outstanding pitching and Alabama moved into the finals of the SEC Tournament with a 1-0 win over Georgia Friday.

Alabama, the regular season champion, will attempt to add the SEC Tournament crown when the Crimson Tide meets Florida at noon Saturday in the championship game at Rhoads Stadium. Bama ended regular season play by taking two of three games from the Gators to give Alabama its third straight regular season title. ESPN2 will televise the game.

Alabama is now 49-7 after eliminating Georgia (41-15).

Both Bama's Jackie Traina, who improved her record to 33-2, and the Bulldogs Erin Arevalo pitched well. The difference was Alabama got a third inning homer from junior Courtney Conley for the only run of the game.

Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said, "It was a heck of a game, two really good teams, two pitchers going at it. There was one mistake by their kid that made the game. That's fast pitch softball.

"We're very fortunate to have Jackie Traina on our side, but the defense behind her was very good today. She pitched out of a couple of situations. The defense played great behind her."

Traina has been the Tide's workhorse, and particularly late in the season. She pitched all three games against Florida last weekend and has gone all the way in winning against Mississippi State Thursday and Georgia Friday. In both tournament games she has been in tough situations and pitched out of them.

Murphy was asked if he sees something different in the sophomore star when she has runners in scoring position.

"I wish she'd get three up, three down," said the coach. But, he said, she does change when the situation is tight. "It's like the pressure sets in when there's somebody on and then she goes to work."

Georgia Coach Lu Harris-Champer called Traina "a fierce competitor. When she gets into jams, she gets better. I think that is a huge deal that a fierce competitor can bring the game. It's an innate ability that you just step it up, and she had that."

Florida advanced to the championship game with a 2-1, eight-inning win over Tennessee.

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