Tide Women Sweeps Mocs

The nationally second-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide softball team took its winning streak to nine straight games on Wednesday with 8-6 and 8-1 wins over Tennessee-Chattanooga at the Alabama Softball Complex.

Alabama improved to 42-4 on the year while UTC is now 26-24 overall.

Chrissy Owens picked up her 50th career victory on the mound in the first game. The win was also the 20th this season for Owens (20-2) who became the 12th player to win 20 games in a season in Alabama's 11-year history. She has now won 20 games in back-to-back seasons after posting 21 victories as a sophomore in 2006.

"One of our goals this year was to have another tandem win 20 games each," said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy. "I think we were the only school in the country to have two 20-game winners in back-to-back seasons (2005 and 2006) and we wanted to do it again. I think this was a great accomplishment for Chrissy and Blair (Potter) now has 11 wins. Chrissy is 20-2 and is probably going to get better as the season goes on and on."

Owens was stellar early on for the Crimson Tide. She did not allow a hit through the first three innings while striking out six batters. The Lady Mocs' first hit came in the fourth on a single up the middle. Alyssa Edwards sent a double to the gap in left center to drive in the first run of the game for UTC and make the score 7-1.

"It is pretty neat because we are putting runs on the board like always," said Owens. "I just think it is awesome that we can put different people in all the time and they still get the job done."

A four-run second inning put the Tide in front by five runs early on. Kelley Montalvo started things off with a walk and a stolen base. Michelle Menningmann sent a single over third base into left field to drive in Montalvo from second base. Katie Johnson followed with a double to the wall in straightaway center for a RBI. After Brittany Rogers was hit-by-a-pitch, Jordan Praytor hit one to the gap in right center for her ninth career triple. The triple scored two more runs to make the score 5-0 in Bama's favor.

Dani Woods gave Alabama a 7-0 lead with a two-run home run to right field. It was her fifth home run of the season and 17th of her career. It was the second straight game that Woods hit a home run as she also hit one out against Auburn last weekend.

Lauren Parker made the score 8-1 with a double to right field for her second RBI of the game. It was her team-leading 10th two-bagger of the season.

Laci Upchurch started the Mocs' comeback in the seventh inning. She led off the inning with a home run to right field for her ninth of the season. With one out UTC tallied back-to-back singles to prompt a pitching change that brought in Blair Potter for Charlotte Morgan. Edwards came through with a single up the middle for her second RBI of the game. An error with two outs kept the inning alive and allowed two more runs to cross the plate in the inning, but the threat would end when Brittney Whittier hit a chopper down the first base line that bounced up and hit her for the final out of the game.

Rogers led UA with two hits and three runs scored. Praytor, Parker and Woods all recorded two RBI in the contest. Edwards was 2-for-4 with two RBI to lead UTC. Ashley Cuticchia, Toni Hutchison and Tara Tembey all recorded two hits with Cuticchia scoring twice.

The second game was low-scoring until Alabama poured on six runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to turn a 2-1 game into a seven-run lead.

After the Lady Mocs cut the lead in half with a solo shot by Upchurch in the top of the fifth, Bama answered with six runs in the bottom half of the frame. Mallory Benak hit a bloop double that landed just inside the left field foul line to put runners on second and third. Rogers then came up and slapped a line drive double to center field to knock in both runs.

With one more run already in on a double steal, Morgan ripped her second single of the game to left field to score Jessica Smith. The next batter was freshman Alex Blewitt and she hit a rocket line drive to left field for her first career home run, a two-run shot. She is the 13th different player to hit a home run for the Tide this season and eighth different player to hit their first career home run in 2007.

"Awesome," said Blewitt on the feeling she had when she hit her first career home run. "It is unbelievable. It felt pretty good to be added to the list of home run hitters."

"I told her (Blewitt) before the game that I thought she was going to hit one out," said Murphy. "I told her she was going to be No. 13 to hit one out. Mallory (Benak) was terrific too. When she gets in there she takes advantage of the opportunity and that is what we want her to do."

Alabama entered the game with 57 home runs, which was fifth in the nation. They now have 60 on the year, the fourth highest single season total in school history.

The Tide struck first in the contest with two runs in the third inning. Brittany Rogers slapped a two-run home run over the right field wall for her fourth home run of the season.

"I didn't realize anything special had happened because I thought it was just a pop fly," said Rogers. "When I was rounding second I saw everybody coming out of the dugout so I asked Coach Murphy if it went over. It was surprising. I was in shock because I was not expecting it."

Rogers has now hit her four home runs in four different ways with inside-the-park and out-of-the-park home runs from both the left and right side of the plate.

"I can't even think of anybody that would have that, right and left, four different ways," said Murphy. "I have never heard of it. I can honestly say that she has never hit a home run off a slap in practice. That was all her tonight.

Rogers finished the second game 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a career-high four RBI. Morgan was 2-for-3 with a run and a RBI while Benak was hit-by-a-pitch twice and had a double with two runs scored. Upchurch hit her 10th home run of the season in the game for the Lady Mocs.

Potter and Allison Moore combined to pitched seven innings with only one run allowed. Potter improved to 11-0 on the year after giving up one run on three hits in five innings with three walks and three strikeouts. Moore pitched the final two innings with two hits allowed, one walk and two strikeouts.

The Crimson Tide will have the rest of the week off. Bama will return to action for a somewhat neutral site contest next Tuesday when Alabama plays host to Mercer in Oxford at 6:30 p.m. The next home game will be a matchup with Troy on April 24 at 6 p.m.

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