Alabama Softball Takes On Vols

This should not be a horrible mismatch either way, but somehow it seems that Alabama has its back against the wall when the Crimson Tide softball team goes to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee volunteers in a Super Regional. The winner earns a berth in the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City beginning next Thursday, May 30.

As defending national champion, Alabama obviously wants to win the Knoxville Super Regional against Tennessee. But want to and ability are two different things.

The Crimson Tide (45-13) and the Lady Vols (47-10) open the best-of-three tournament at 7 p.m. EDT (6 p.m. central time) Friday at Sherri Lee Parker Stadium. ESPN2 will televise the game. Game two will begin at 5 p.m. EDT (4 central) Saturday and if a third game is necessary it will begin at 8/7 Saturday. The second game will be on ESPN. If a third game is necessary, ESPN2 will broadcast it. Tennessee started the tournament as the seventh seed, Bama as No. 10.

Alabama and Tennessee have met 51 times with the Tide holding a 33-18 all-time lead in the series. Bama has a slim 12-10 lead in games played in Knoxville. This year, however, the teams played in Knoxville and the Vols took two of three games – winning the first two games by a run each (4-3 and 2-1) before Alabama salvaged things with a 7-1 win in the thid game.

Freshman Andrea Hawkins had the best luck against Tennessee pitching, going 6-10 with two doubles and four runs batted in.

The last time Bama and UT met in post-season was in gthe Women's College World Series last year, the Tide taking a 5-3 decision en route to the title.

Alabama comes into the Super Regional with a little momentum, having swept its way through the Tuscaloosa Regional with a win over Jacksonville State and two victories over Western Kentucky, the championship game by a run-rule 13-1 margin.

Alabama is led by senior Kayla Braud, who is nearing the end of her All-America career with a 23-game hitting streak and a .476 batting average that is third in the nation. Her career batting average is an Alabama best .438, just ahead of all-time Bama great Kelly Kretschman (.437).

Tennessee also swept its way into the Super Regional with three shutout victories.

Alabama is the only team in the nation to make it to an NCAA Super Regional round every year since the inception of the three-gane series in 2005. This is the Tide's ninth in a row, but the first since a trip to Washington in 2007 not played at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa.

Bama earned its 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament bid this year, its 17th season of softball. The Tide is 67-29 in NCAA Tournament play. The Tide is going for its seventh Super Regional title after taking its 11th Regional championship last week.

This year Alabama has a 23-12 record against teams that made the NCAA Tournament field.

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