Tide, Gators Play For SEC Title

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.– It is no surprise that the final teams standing in the Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament are Florida and Alabama. The Gators are ranked number one in the nation and the Crimson Tide is third. They will meet for the SEC title at Lee Stadium on the Tennessee campus at 1:30 p.m. EDT (12:30 central time) Saturday. Fox Sports will televise the championship game.

Alabama had a tough time making it to the championship party. A very good Kentucky team that had upset third seed Georgia on Thursday gave the Crimson Tide all it wanted before Bama pulled out a 2-1 extra inning game on the strength of Whitney Larsen's walk-off home run in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Meanwhile, Florida cruised into the title game with an 11-3 win over Tennessee. Florida was the number one seed in the tournament and Bama was number two.

Alabama's victory was number 600 for Crimson Tide Coach Patrick Murphy. Alabama improved to 47-8 on the season. Two of those losses were one-sided setbacks to Florida in Gainesville early in the season. Bama did beat the Gators one game in that series.

Murphy was not around to see Larsen's game-winning home run after being tossed from the game for arguing over an earlier out of Larsen. On what seemed to be a run-scoring sacrifice fly, Larsen was detected having left third base too early and was out.

Murphy, who described the room where he spent his ejection as being like a "dungeon," said, "When somebody said her (Whitney Larsen) name was up, I said to myself, ‘I think she's going to hit one out,.' She hit one out against them last time when we played at home. She's usually a kid that makes up for mistakes. She's just a very competitive kid and I thought she'd come through."

The home run is her team leading 10th on the season. The roundtripper also marks the fourth straight game Alabama has gone deep.

"The first thing in my head was just to get on base and get a leadoff hit so Brittany (Rogers) can do her job," Larsen said. "It was a great game first off. Kentucky has had a great year. It was a great team win. It doesn't come down to my at-bat; it comes down to Kellie's at bat, Kelsi's pitching and everybody's effort."

The Wildcats were able to start the scoring with a single run in the third. After loading the bases in the first Kentucky did so again and was able to breakthrough with a single through the left side off the bat of Rachel Riley that plated Molly Johnson.

Alabama quickly responded in the bottom half when the leadoff batter of the inning Kellie Eubanks hit a moon-shot home run that carried over the left field to knot the score at 1-1.

Brittany Rogers led the Crimson Tide at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort. Molly Johnson led Kentucky with a perfect 4-for-4 effort, including a double.

Charlotte Morgan (16-6) earned her second win of the tournament by tossing two innings of scoreless relief. The southpaw struck out one and allowed one hit. Kelsi Dunne started the game and went six innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out two.

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