Oklahoma City Bound!

The Alabama softball team beat Stanford 8-7 here today to close out the NCAA Super Regional Series and advance to its fourth College World Series in seven years. It was a game that included an early barrage of runs, a scrambling comeback and extra innings before a clutch double play by the Crimson Tide closed out an exciting championship game here at the Alabama Softball Stadium.

"What an amazing game," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "I don't know how to describe it with all of the emotions going back and forth, all the emotions you could possibly have in an eight-inning game. "You have to give (Stanford) credit. We let them have several base runners and they just pecked away at us. They didn't roll over, that's for sure."

Alabama scored seven runs in the top of the first inning. No one had scored more than six runs on the Crimson Tide all season, making their victory seem secure at that point. But Stanford wasn't done, scoring three in the bottom of the first and then four more in the fourth inning.

"I'm very proud of our team, coming back like that after digging that hole in the first inning," Stanford head coach John Rittman said. "I don't know if there are many teams in the country that could come back from something like that. I think it showed the battle and the pride that our kids have to play softball. We just had a nightmare of a first inning."

In the top of the eighth inning junior Mandy Burford, the offensive hero from the series' first game, reached base on a fielding error, stole second and then advanced to third on yet another error and then scored on a Jordan Praytor single to centerfield.

One up going into the bottom of the eighth, Stanford got a runner on base with just one out before Jackie Rinehart lined into a third-to-first double play to end the Cardinal's run and push Alabama to its third World Series Appearance in four years.

Alabama sophomore Chrissy Owens picked up the win, pitching the last five innings after coming in for senior Stephanie VanBrakle. Owens gave up four hits, but just one run, improving her record to 21-4 on the season. Stanford's Missy Penna fell to 22-10 with the loss, giving up four hits and three runs in 7.2 innings.

Seven different players crossed home plate for the Tide, while freshman Brittany Rogers, VanBrakle and freshman Ashley Holcombe had two RBIs a piece.

The College World Series, held each year in Oklahoma City, Okla., begins June 1.


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