What looked to be a low-scoring affair in the nightcap, turned into a wild shootout in extra innings. With Alabama sophomore pitcher Chrissy Owens (10-2) and Tennessee All-America Monica Abbott (17-2) locked in a scoreless pitcher's dual through the first seven innings both offenses came alive in the eighth.
After Tennessee put a run across in the top of the eighth, Alabama answered with a run of its own in the bottom of the inning. Jordan Praytor reached on a one-out single and advanced to third on a single by Stephanie VanBrakle. Dominique Accetturo then doubled down the right field line scoring Praytor to tie the game at 1-1.
Tennessee claimed a 4-1 lead in the top of the ninth when with runners on first and third, Sarah Fekete singled through the left side. The ball got passed Praytor in left field and rolled all the way to the wall allowing all three to score.
However, the Crimson Tide refused to roll over rallying again in the bottom of the ninth. Mandy Burford reached on a one-out single and went to second on a single from Brittany Rogers. Praytor then hit a bouncer to short but the Lady Vols were unable to execute the play at third base for the force out loading the bases for Alabama. Following a VanBrakle strikeout, Dominique Accetturo singled to right centerfield scoring Burford and Rogers cutting the UT lead to 4-3. Staci Ramsey then doubled in the left centerfield gap scoring Praytor and Accetturo and the Tide had an improbable come from behind 5-4 victory.
"It was an amazing day; we had great at-bats and that was the game plan," said head coach Patrick Murphy. "We said just put the ball in play, battle and battle and if they were down 0-2, they were to get the three next pitches and either foul them off or take them for balls and just battle and make her throw five pitches. They followed the game plan to a tee."
Owens claimed the victory, the first extra-inning victory in her career. She allowed four runs, two earned, on nine hits while striking out nine Lady Vol batters.
The Crimson Tide wasted no time jumping on Abbott in Game 1 taking a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Rogers led off the game with a single and promptly stole second and third. Two outs later, Accetturo singled back up the middle scoring Rogers for the lead.
Alabama added two more runs in the third extending its lead to 3-0. Praytor got the rally going this time singling to centerfield and stealing second. Following a VanBrakle walk, Accetturo singled up the middle scoring Praytor. Ramsey then hit a chopper to short that was bobbled allowing Mallory Benak to score for the 3-0 lead. Benak was pinch-running for VanBrakle.
Tennessee made things interesting with two runs in the fifth, but they would come no closer as the Tide took the first game in front of a record crowd of 1,759 the largest crowd in program history.
"We told (the team) before the game that this was why they came to Alabama to play in front of a record crowd and a great stadium against a good opponent," said Murphy.
VanBrakle (16-2) collected the win allowing two runs, neither earned, on six hits while striking out 10 batters.
Accetturo finished the day going 4-8 with five RBI and a run scored.
The two teams will get together for the series finale on Sunday, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT. Fans can follow all the action on www.rolltide.com where live stats and audio will be available. In the Tuscaloosa area, fans can hear all the balls and strikes on 90.7 FM WVUA.
--Jordan Praytor extended her hitting streak to eight games.
--Alabama extended its home winning streak to 12 games.
--Chrissy Owens threw a career high nine innings.
--Owens recorded her 10th win of the season, also a career high.
--Owens moved to sixth on UA's all-time strikeout list with her 250th strikeout.
--Accetturo moved to fifth on the school's all-time doubles list with her 40th.
--The attendance of 1,759 was the largest in program history. The previous high was 1,501 on opening night in 2000. The largest crowd in stadium history is 2,069 when the 2000 US Olympic team played a team of Southeastern Collegiate All-Stars.