"I thought for sure our defense was really good all week and I think that if we continue to play great defense then we'll go a long way," Alabama Coach Pat Murphy said after the Tide swept through the NCAA Region 5 Tournament. "I think putting the ball in play, taking advantage of a couple of walks and a hit-by-pitch and just taking what they gave us was a big part of the two wins against Georgia Tech."
It is the second time in the two-year history of the current format that the Tide has advanced out of the regional, and the first time Alabama has hosted a Super Regional. The Tide is now 4-1 in NCAA Regional Championship games.
The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (52-9) scored first, putting three runs across in the third inning, and led from that point on, though the Yellow Jackets (48-22) scored in the fourth and fifth innings to pull within one, including a solo homerun by Whitney Haller, before Alabama closed out the game with two runs in the fifth and sixth innings.
"I thought that if we scored three or four runs we would have a chance if we could play defense," Georgia Tech head coach Ehren Earleywine said. "We didn't do either today."
Among the Tide's scoring barrage was a solo homerun by senior Staci Ramsey to open up the fifth inning. It marked the fifth time in the last six regional games that the Tide has had at least one home run.
"Murphy had just told us to answer back because Stephanie (VanBrakle) was working her heart out," Ramsey said. "So I just went up there and was looking for something I could hit."
Alabama senior phenom Stephanie VanBrakle grabbed the win, going to 27-5 on the season while Tech's Lacy Richardson dropped to 8-6 on the season with the loss.
"It was a good job by Steph to comeback on the second day and hold them to four hits, which was just amazing," Murphy said. "She did it all year long in SEC play. To be as sharp as she was on one day's rest is saying a lot for her."
Next Friday, the Tide will face the winner of the Region 12 Championship game featuring Fresno State and Stanford. Tickets for the Super Regional will be available on Monday at 9:00 a.m. CT through the Alabama Ticket Office (205.348.2262).