Tide Wins SEC

Stephanie VanBrakle used her arm and her bat to earn Most Valuable Player honors in the Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament and Bama won its third title with a 2-0 victory over top-seeded Georgia in Gainesville, Florida, Sunday.

Alabama made it to the championship game as Stephanie VanBrakle pitched a shutout and hit a three-run home run as the Crimson Tide defeated Tennessee, 3-0, in a morning game. Ninth-ranked Alabama ran its record to 57-13 as Bama claimed its third SEC Tournament title and second in three years with its victory over eighth-ranked Georgia. The star of the title game was pitcher Jennifer Wright, who pitched a four-hitter and shut out the Dogs for the first time since they were held scoreless by UCLA on February 18. Georgia is now 50-13.

Alabama's next action will be in the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide is almost certain to host a regional tournament beginning Friday.

For their efforts in the tournament, Dominique Accetturo, Ashley Courtney, Jordan Praytor, Jackie Wilkins, Jennifer Wright and Stephanie VanBrakle were all named to the All-SEC Tournament team with VanBrakle being named the tournament MVP, the first time in Alabama history.

The title for Alabama was its second in the state of Florida as the Tide claimed the 2003 championship in Plant City. It also marked the first time Alabama recorded a shutout in the championship game as well.

Wright finished the tournament 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA and allowed only five hits.

"Somebody was going to do it for us," said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy. "The way Jenn was pitching I thought it was going to be low scoring and I was hoping we could get a couple of runs."

Much like Alabama's first game of the day, the Tide was locked in a pitchers' duel with both teams playing scoreless ball until the fifth inning.

Alabama finally got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Dani Woods was hit by a pitch, Leah White hit into a fielder's choice, Jackie Wilkins was safe on an error, and Jordan Praytor was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Ashley Courtney then delivered a single back up the middle scoring White and Wilkins and Alabama was on the board 2-0.

After having lost to Tennessee Saturday afternoon, the Tide had to come back against the Vols in a Sunday morning game to get into the title contest. VanBrakle threw a one-hit shutout and hit a game-winning three-run home run in the seventh inning to lead the Tide to the 3-0 win over 11th ranked Tennessee (59-13).

VanBrakle was perfect through four innings before allowing her only hit of the game, an infield single. She struck out nine batters, a school record in the SEC Tournament.

In the fifth inning, an infield hit, an error, and a wild pitch put Tennessee runners on second and third with no outs. But VanBrakle got a ground out and two strikeouts to get out of trouble.

In the seventh, an error and a single put runners on for VanBrakle, who hit her third home run of the tournament on the first pitch. The three homers is an SEC Tournament record. VanBrakle also had a double in the game.

Bama's pitching staff set an SEC Tournament record with 28 strikeouts.

NOTE: Much of the information for this story was provided by Alabama's media relations office.


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