Old Story: Traina Pitches Tide To Win

In the best two-of-three series, there is a big advantage to winning the first game. The Alabama softball team got the Tuscaloosa Super Regional of the NCAA Championship Tournament off to a good start Thursday with a 4-1 win over Michigan in front of 2,475 fans at Rhoads Stadium.

As has been the case for most of the season as Alabama earned a second national seed for the tournament, the Crimson Tide relied on the pitching of sophomore Jackie Traina and clutch hitting to defeat Michigan.

"I was very pleased with the win," Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said. "It's nice to get the first one in a two-out-of-three."

Traina held the Wolverines to only two hits and had 10 strikeouts, including key strikeouts to snuff Michigan threats in the late innings.

Alabama and Michigan will face off Friday at 3:30 p.m. CDT. If Alabama wins, the Crimson Tide advances to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. If Michigan wins, a final game will be played at 7 p.m. ESPNU will televise the afternoon game. If the series goes to three games, ESPN will televise the Super Regional championship contest.

With the win, Alabama improves to 54-7 on the year, while Michigan falls to 42-16. The victory also moves the Tide to 12-5 in NCAA Super Regional games.

Traina recorded her third consecutive two-hitter, all of which have come in NCAA Tournament play, to improve to 36-2 on the season. The sophomore righthander pitched a complete game and struck out 10 batters. Michigan pitcher Haylie Wagner (32-6) took the loss, giving up four runs on six hits while striking out two batters.

Traina's 10 strikeouts give her 311, putting her in fifth place in Alabama's single season annals. The Naples, Fla., native has struck out 10 in all three starts in the NCAA postseason.

Alabama cranked out six hits, including three for senior Jennifer Fenton. Sophomore Kaila Hunt added two more RBI, giving her 72 on the season. Fenton has now tallied 15 hits since the start of the SEC tournament.

Alabama got the scoring started in the bottom of the second inning. Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia drew a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Junior Courtney Conley laced a double down the left field line to score Reilly-Boccia and make it 1-0.

The Crimson Tide added some insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Junior Kayla Braud reached on an error and Fenton was able to get on base with an infield single. Both came around to score on Hunt's two-run double, putting the Tide up 3-0. Senior Jazlyn Lunceford followed up with a RBI single up the middle to increase the lead to 4-0.

Michigan scored a run in the top of the sixth inning and threatened in the top of the seventh, but Traina ended each threat with a strikeout.

"That was the key, I think," Murphy said. "Jackie gutted it out a little bit."

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