Tide Softball Advances to Regional Final

The Alabama softball team advanced to the NCAA Region 5 Championship round Saturday with an 8-5 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (51-8) scored in every inning but the fourth en route to the win and received an outstanding performance from senior Stephanie VanBrakle, both on the mound and at the plate.

VanBrakle shut down the Yellow Jackets (47-21) in 6 1/3 innings of work. She allowed just five hits and only one run to improve to 26-5 on the season. She was stellar at the plate as well where she was 2-for-2 with a home run. Her sixth inning blast moved her into second place all-time at Alabama with 40th career home runs.

"I just saw the ball well and our goal as a team was to score every inning," VanBrakle said. "Any way I could contribute to the team was fine with me."

Alabama applied relentless pressure on the Jackets in the game. Jordan Praytor got things going for Alabama in the first with a single up the middle. Two batters later, Praytor came around on a throwing error following a Dani Woods single to left field to give Alabama a 1-0 lead.

In the second, Alabama played a little small-ball. VanBrakle led off with a single down the right field line and was lifted for Mallory Benak. Benak then advanced to second on Kelley Montalvo's sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a ground out by Kelly Holcombe.

‘Bama added another run in the third and two more in the fifth before VanBrakle's sixth inning home run brought home what proved to be the winning run.

In the seventh, Praytor gave the Tide a little insurance when she followed Brittney Rogers' lead-off single with a two-run homer over the right-centerfield wall to put ‘Bama ahead 8-1.

"The big rally can really get the other team down," Praytor said, "but if you are putting continuous pressure on a team it is really hard for them to come back and make a run."

Georgia Tech finally made that run in their final at bat against Alabama pitcher Blair Potter, who replaced VanBrakle. Potter induced two of the first three batters she faced into ground ball outs before she found herself in a little trouble. With one run in and two more on base, Tech's Caitlin Lever sent one over the centerfield wall to draw the Jackets to within three at 8-5. However, VanBrakle returned to the circle to close out the game and send the Tide into Sunday's Championship game which will begin at 1:30 p.m.

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