Tide takes three from UT

TUSCALOOSA, AL -- The seventh-ranked University of Alabama softball team (23-3, 6-0) completed a series sweep of the No. 13 ranked Tennessee Lady Vols (22-8, 4-4) with a 2-1 victory extending the Tide's winning streak to 14 consecutive games, the third longest streak in program history.

Bama sophomore Stephanie VanBrakle was the hero for the Crimson Tide again as she had been all weekend. VanBrakle collected her eighth win of the season scattering five hits and striking out six batters in seven innings of work. She also drove in the game-winning run for the third time in the series.

The two teams were scoreless through the first two and a half innings until Alabama got on the board in the bottom of the third. Ashley Courtney led off and reached first on a dropped third strike. She took second on a Jackie Wilkins single and both runners advanced on a sacrifice from Angela Johnson. Capper Reed was hit by a pitch loading the bases for VanBrakle who delivered a single up the middle scoring Courtney and Wilkins for a 2-0 Crimson Tide lead.

The two runs were all VanBrakle (8-2) needed as she surrendered only one run in the top of the seventh for the victory.

She finished the weekend hitting .375 with two home runs and six RBI, three of which were game-winners. She also collected two wins in the circle while allowing only one earned run and striking out 17 batters.

The win moved Alabama's winning streak to 14 straight games including six straight in conference play. The school record for consecutive games won is 27 set in the 2003 season.

Alabama will be in action on Tuesday night when the team hosts the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in a single game starting at 6:30 p.m.

Saturday's Games

University of Alabama sophomore Stephanie VanBrakle did it with her arm first then with her bat later as she helped the sixth-ranked Alabama softball team (22-3, 5-0) to a doubleheader sweep of the 13th ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers (22-7, 4-3) 4-3 and 5-4.

VanBrakle (7-2) scattered three hits and struck out 11 batters through seven innings en route to the win. Then with Alabama trailing 3-1 with two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh inning, VanBrakle hit a walk-off home run that bounced off the top of the right field fence for the final 4-3 margin.

In Game 1, the two pitchers combined to tie a stadium record 25 total strikeouts in the game. Tennessee's Monica Abbott struck out 14 Alabama hitters while VanBrakle fanned 11 Lady Vols.

The Tide drew first blood in the bottom of the third inning. Angela Johnson reached on a hit-by-pitch, Abbott's stadium record, fourth of the day. Johnson then stole second and reached third on a passed ball. Capper Reed then drove a 3-2 pitch in the right centerfield gap scoring Johnson and Alabama had a 1-0 lead.

The Lady Vols answered in the top of the fifth inning taking advantage of a two-out error by Bama shortstop Dominique Accetturo. Tennessee put three runs on the board to take a 3-1 lead.

In the nightcap VanBrakle was at it again putting Alabama on top 1-0 in the bottom of the second inning with a solo-home run.

The Lady Vols tied the game in the top of the third, but Alabama responded in the bottom of the inning with four runs highlighted by a two-run scoring single up the middle by Accetturo.

The Lady Vols responded with three runs in the top of the fourth inning but Erin Wright came on in relief of starter Jennifer Wright and shut the Tennessee offense down over the next four innings.

Erin Wright (9-1) recorded her ninth win of the season and her second in conference play throwing four innings of three-hit ball and striking out six batters.

The win was Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy's 300th career victory. He has a career winning percentage of .721 which is the eighth highest percentage in NCAA history. He currently has 272 victories as head coach at Alabama.


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