Tide Winner In Softball

The Alabama softball team defeated number 22 North Carolina State, 6-0, Sunday in the championship game of the Hampton Inn Crimson Classic Championship at the Bama softball complex. The Crimson Tide, ranked fifth in the nation, improved to 16-0 on the season and won its third tournament championship of 2007.

Alabama also won the Century-Tel Softball Classic in San Marcos, Texas and the Hampton Inn BAMA BASH! This was the third straight Crimson Classic championship for the Crimson Tide.

"I think we are really coming together and playing as a team and that was the most important thing for us," said Crimson Classic MVP Lauren Parker. "Coming in to the season you just want to see what you can do against other teams and we came in as a team and as a family and that really has helped us a lot."

Alabama didn't waste any time gaining an edge in the contest as the Tide put two runs on the board right out of the gate. Bama started the bottom of the first inning with walks by Brittany Rogers and Jordan Praytor. Two batters later, Parker stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and was hit by a pitch to bring in a run. Dani Woods followed with a single to center field to make it 2-0 against North Carolina State.

Mandy Burford gave the Tide a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning with a hard hit single that pitcher, Abbie Sims couldn't make a play on. N.C. State threatened in the fifth inning. Shanna Smith and Megan Dalthorp had back-to-back singles to start the frame for the Wolfpack. However, Chrissy Owens got a strikeout and a fielder's choice ground out for two outs and Ashley Holcombe lasered a shot to Parker at second base to pickoff Dalthorp and end the inning.

Bama used the momentum to add two more runs in the bottom half of the fifth. Woods drove in a run on a sacrifice fly to center and Kellie Eubanks laid down a perfect suicide squeeze to score Parker, who doubled to center field earlier in the inning.

Alabama tacked on one more run for the 6-0 victory, the team's eighth shutout of the season in 16 games. Owens earned a spot on the All-Tournament team with her third victory of the tournament and eighth of the year. She struck out four and walked two to go along with seven hits. The shutout was the 13th of her career, moving her into fourth on the all-time list. She has four shutouts in eight starts this season.

Woods finished 1-of-2 with two RBI while Parker went 2-for-3 with a run and a RBI. Burford was 1-for-1 with a walk and hit-by-pitch. She stole two bases in the game to give her a team-high 13 on the season. Allison Presnell and Smith were each 2-for-3 to lead N.C. State.

Parker was named the Hampton Inn Crimson Classic MVP. She set or matched tournament records with a .643 (9-of-14) average, six runs scored, nine hits and three doubles. She also hit one home run, had six RBI and stole two bases. She reached base two out of every three plate appearances (.667 on base percentage) and had a 1.071 slugging percentage.

"It feels good, but any of the players on our team could have been named MVP," said Parker. "It feels special but to win this tournament it had to be a team effort because there were so many great teams."

Rogers was also named to the All-Tournament team after hitting .500 (8-of-16) with six runs, one double, one triple, three RBI and four stolen bases. She also ended the game with an outfield assist in the first meeting against N.C. State on Friday.

The Tide exploded in its semifinal contest against Winthrop scoring 14 runs in the five-inning 14-1 victory. They scored 10 of those runs on nine hits and three walks in the second inning. Five of the nine hits were doubles. The 10 runs tied for the second most scored in a single inning in school history. The record is 14 in a game against Texas A&M - Corpus Christi in 2001.

Eubanks and Holcombe started off the monstrous inning with back-to-back singles. After a walk by Kelley Montalvo, Rogers switched from the left to the right side of the plate and drove a double off the wall in left center to score two runs. Praytor then came up and knocked in two more with her third double of the year. Three batters later Parker joined in with a two-run double and then scored on another two-run double, this time by Woods. Two outs later Montalvo doubled to center field to drive in a run and after a walk by Jessica Smith, Praytor tallied her third RBI of the inning and fourth of the game with a single left field to make it 13-0 in favor of the Tide.

"I think everybody got on base that inning," said Parker. "Everybody either got a hit or got on base so all the way around it was just an awesome effort by the team. To have a big inning like that it really kills the other team's confidence."

Alabama finished the game with a season-high 14 runs and 15 hits. Bama tallied seven doubles in the game and reached base 18 times in 30 plate appearances. As a team the Tide set four tournament records including runs (14), hits (15), RBI (13) and doubles (7).

Praytor led the way with a career-high four hits in four at bats. She also matched a career high with four RBI to go along with two runs scored. Rogers extended her hitting streak to 12 games with a 2-for-2, two runs, two RBI day. Her streak was later snapped in the championship game. Charlotte Morgan went 2-for-3 with one RBI and one run scored while Eubanks also recorded two hits and one RBI in the contest. Lisa Kingsmore led the Eagles with two hits in two at bats.

Morgan earned her fourth win of the year. She pitched three innings and allowed one run on five hits with two strikeouts. Allison Moore finished the game with two walks and four strikeouts in two scoreless innings. Megan Evans only pitched one inning and gave up four earned runs in one inning to fall to 2-4 on the year. In the first semifinal game, second seed Indiana State and third seed N.C. State battled in a close game. The Wolfpack pulled it out 5-4 for the right to go to the title game.

Alabama will hit the road on Wednesday for a 6:30 p.m. contest with Samford in Birmingham. The Tide will look to stay undefeated as Bama goes on the road for the first time since February 11.


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