Some Good News

Once football practice is over, and when there is little or nothing happening in men's basketball recruiting, it is baseball that ordinarily attracts the most attention of Crimson Tide fans in the spring. Oh, the hiring of a head women's basketball coach will dominate headlines for a day or so. Things are not good in baseball as Bama has lost the first two games of a three-game series to Florida, but there is some good news on the Alabama sports front this weekend.

The ninth-ranked Alabama softball team took a doubleheader from South Carolina in Columbia Saturday. Bama had four home runs and 25 hits in taking 11-0 and 7-1 wins. Bama improved to 47-9 overall and 18-5 in SEC play.

The series concludes with a single game today. Bama does not return hom until hosting Arkansas May 6-7.

Ashley Courtney had two of Bama's three home runs in the 11-0 rout of the Gamecocks (Lady Gamecocks?) in a game halted after six innings by the "slaughter rule." Courtney had six RBI, a school record in an SEC game.

Stephanie VanBrakle got it going with a three-run home run in the first inning.

VanBrakle recorded her 10th double digit strikeout performance of the season in improving to 23-4 for the year, allowing just one hit in the complete game shutout.

The Alabama bats proved to be just as lethal in the second game, as the Tide pounded out a season high 15 hits en route to the 7-1 victory.

Staci Ramsey homered in the second game. Jennifer Wright was the winning pitcher and is now 16-3.

MEN'S TENNIS DOWNS AUBURN

Alabama's men's tennis team had not won an SEC match all year, and was facing 31st ranked Auburn in Auburn in the final regular season match of the year Saturday. The Crimson Tide dominated in the 80th match in history with a 6-1 victory. It was Bama's 50th win in the series.

"This is just a huge victory for us," Alabama head coach Billy Pate said. "We needed this win and it makes it even sweeter to do against your rival."

Alabama (10-14, 1-10 SEC) dominated the match from the outset. The Tide seized control of momentum early in doubles and rode it all the way through the completion of the match.

Javier Bes sealed the win for the Tide by defeating Nick Lane in straight sets at No. 4 singles. The win for Bes is his third win since returning to the line-up three weeks ago after a broken arm sidelined him for nearly a month. Seconds later, Luigi D'Agord turned Alabama's win into a rout when he put the finishing touches on a three-set win over Alex Schweizer. Joseph Jung then closed out the night's scoring with Alabama's second third-set victory. Jung defeated last year's NCAA semifinalist, Gabor Zoltan Pelva, 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 at No. 1 singles.

Next up for Alabama is the SEC Tournament in Athens, Ga. Alabama will meet Tennessee on Thursday at noon EST.

WOMEN'S TENNIS ALSO BEATS AUBURN

In front of a near capacity crowd at the University of Alabama Tennis Complex, the Alabama Crimson Tide closed out the 2005 regular season Saturday with a decisive 5-2 win over rival Auburn.

Alabama (8-13, 3-8 SEC) dominated the Tigers, winning eight of the day's nine matches. The only loss for Alabama came at No. 2 singles where Ashley Bentley was forced to retire after the first set due to injury.

"This win today was big for us," Alabama head coach Jenny Mainz said. "We needed to finish the season strong and with a victory. Now we have a little momentum heading into the SEC Tournament."

Natalie McElveen clinched the win for Alabama at No. 5 singles with a 6-5, 6-4 straight set victory over Sarah Suitor. It was McElveen's third match-clinching win of the season. Robin Stephenson, Melissa Minor and Mari Muller also won in straight sets for the Tide. Stephenson won at No. 1 singles to earn her team-leading 25th win on the year. Minor's win was her fifth straight win on the season and upped her record to 14-16 and 5-6 in the SEC.

This was the second straight convincing win for Alabama over Auburn. Last season the Tide knocked the Tigers out of the SEC Tournament with a 4-0 win.

With Saturday's win, Alabama finishes fourth in the SEC's Western Division and will now head into this week's SEC Tournament, being played in Tuscaloosa, as the No. 10 seed.

SOCCER CAN ONLY TIE AUBURN

Alabama soccer (3-0-3) remained unbeaten this spring and played the defending SEC Western Division Champion Auburn Tigers to a 1-1 tie Saturday night at the "Kick a Goal for CCF Classic" in Huntsville.

Libby Probst scored the Tide's goal on an assist from Suzanne Baker. Alabama played stellar defense the rest of the way to hold on to the tie.

"We redeemed ourselves a little bit after last year's showing here," Alabama head coach Don Staley said. "This was a great game tonight and tremendous team effort. I'm proud of how our team played. There's a lot that we can take from this game and learn from tonight."

Alabama will close out it's spring season next weekend at the Orange Beach Classic against another in-state opponent, the UAB Blazers.

GATOR SECOND; TIDE GOLF SLIPS

Gator Todd, a freshman on the Alabama golf team, is one stroke back and tied for second going into Sunday's third and final round of the 2005 SEC Men's Golf Championships at St. Simons Island, Georgia. The tournament is being held at Sea Island Golf Club's par 70 Seaside Golf Course.

Alabama slipped from third, its opening round spot, to fifth. Alabama followed its 295 on Friday with 300 on Saturday. Florida leads the field of 12 teams which include seven Top 25 ranked teams. The Gators are 26 over par after 36 holes. Florida shot 294-292/586. Seven on the 12 teams are within 12 shots of the Gators. Auburn is closest, at 591. Kentucky is third (592), Georgia fourth (594), Alabama fifth (595), Tennessee sixth (596), South Carolina seventh (598), tied at eighth LSU and Mississippi State (604), at 10th Vanderbilt (608), at 11th Arkansas (609) and at 12th Ole Miss (620).

Georgia's Richard Scott leads the field of 60 golfers. He's one over par after two rounds. Scott so far has carded 68-73/141. Todd, whose father Richard is a former Crimson Tide quarterback, shot one over par in both rounds, 71-71/142. He's in a tie for second at one stroke back with Tennessee's David Skinns (72-70/142).

Another Tide freshman, Mark Harrell, is among the top 20 going into the final round in his first league championships appearance. Harrell is among a three-way tie at 20th after shooting 71-78/149, nine over par. Senior Clint Provost is T-27th (76-75/151). Daphne's Joseph Sykora is T-35th (77-76/153), and Thomas Hagler is T-44th (77-79/156).

WOMEN'S GOLF IN EIGHTH The Alabama women's golf team carded a second round 316 on Saturday and is in eighth place heading into the final round of the 25th-annual Southeastern Conference Championship at the Tunica (Mississippi) National Golf & Tennis Club.

Junior Carina Sorensen again led the way for the Crimson Tide shooting a three-over-par 75. Sorensen is currently tied for fourth overall at 147 and is just two shots behind individual co-leaders Nicole Hage of Auburn and Tennessee's Jessica Shepley.

Senior Megan George fired her second straight round of 79 on Saturday to end the day tied for 36th at 158. Senior Darby Sligh (160/ T45th) and freshman Emily Sykes (160/ T45th) both posted second round scores of 86. Junior Audrey Gale rounded out the Tide lineup carding an 80 (162/ T48th).

Auburn continues to top the team standings at 593, but the Tigers saw their first round lead trimmed to just three shots as LSU made a charge on Saturday to sit in second at 596. Georgia and Tennessee are knotted in third at 603 followed by Arkansas (610), Florida (611), South Carolina (614), Alabama (619), Kentucky and Vanderbilt (624), Mississippi State (642) and Ole Miss (649). Scores were higher on Saturday for all the players as LSU's Rebecca Kuhn, who carded a one-under-par 71, was the lone linkster to record a round of par or lower.


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