Tide Wins Opener

Senior Jennifer Wright pitched a two-hitter for her 20th win and eighth-ranked Alabama opened NCAA Regional play with a 9-1 victory over Mississippi Valley State in rain-delayed action at the Crimson Tide Softball Complex Friday.

While an afternoon thunderstorm pushed back the start of Friday's opening round in NCAA Region 12, both Alabama and Arizona State did their parts to speed things up by taking "mercy rule" victories. Bama's win came in six innings, while the Sun Devils needed only five innings to post a 10-1 victory over Hofstra in Friday's first game.

Alabama, now 58-14, will play Arizona State at 1:30 p.m. CDT Saturday. Hofstra and Mississippi Valley State will play an elimination game beginning at 4 p.m.

MVSU's Jalana Brown walked freshman Dani Woods with the bases loaded to finish off the game.

  "I'm happy that after it was 1-1 we came back and responded," Alabama Coach Pat Murphy said. "When this team has gotten pushed or shoved all year they fight back. I didn't want them going into the game thinking they have to get hits and press too hard. We just stayed relaxed and swung the bats. We just knew they were going to drop sooner or later. Mississippi Valley State had a good game plan and not many people come in with one against Jen Wright. They took their hacks. I think they are a good team."

Alabama scored in the first inning and MVSU answered in the top of the second, before junior Staci Ramsey broke the game open with a two-run homer in the bottom of the third, pushing Alabama to a 5-1 lead. The Tide scored again in the fifth inning before closing it out with three runs in sixth.

"The first couple of innings we were trying to figure out the speed of what she was throwing and where she was throwing it," Ramsey said. "Once we did we were okay."   Wright (20-5) picked up the win while Brown (17-12) took the loss. With the win, Wright grabs her first collegiate 20-win season.

The first pitch of the NCAA Region 12 tournament was delayed for three and a half hours, but Arizona State didn't waste any time after action got underway. The Sun Devils scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning en route to their easy win.

Arizona State followed up with two more runs in the second inning. Hofstra answered with a run in the top of the third inning before Arizona State put the game away with five runs in the third.

"I felt we were fortunate to be on the right side," Arizona State coach Linda Wells said. "(Hofstra) didn't play as well as they'd like. Anytime you open the door and have the ability to keep it open with runs it helps. At the same time we earned our way too. It was a shared offensive spurt. But they did sputter at the beginning."

For Arizona State it was the first time they had scored more than five runs and its first time to score in double digits in 29 games. The Sun Devils snapped Hofstra's 11-game win streak.

Freshman Katherine Burkhart (12-13) took the win for Arizona State while senior Callie Osborne (24-6) took the loss, which snapped her 21-game winning streak. Juniors Kim Zadrozny and Ashley Werschky both had three RBIs on the night. Sophomore Sharee Zaleski hit a two-run homer in the third inning that cleared the score board in left-centerfield, giving her a team-leading 12 home runs on the season.

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