Dunne No-Hits Jax For Second Time

Two days, two no-hitters, and a Kelsi Dunne change-up Jacksonville State still hasn't touched means Alabama is once again heading to the NCAA Softball College World Series in Oklahoma City. The Tide belted the Gamecocks 9-0, as it did Friday, to earn it's boarding pass to the Sooner State for the sixth time in 13 years. For the seniors, this makes three trips to Oklahoma City in four seasons.

It's the first time in NCAA post-season history that a team or player has back-to-back no-hitters.

"You don't think of a script like this. It's just unbelievable. It's kind of a dream come true," said Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy.

Though he didn't see a second straight ‘no-no' coming, Murphy said there were some clues once the game began.

"When (Dunne) got through their lineup the first time, I was thinking, ‘She might have a shot.'" Added Jacksonville State Coach Jana McGinnis, "I thought (Dunne) had better control today. I told here when I was shaking her hand, ‘Pack that change-up and take it to Oklahoma City.' That change-up is not in the scouting report. She had it this weekend."

"Our goal coming into today's game was to be a different team than (Friday). We're not happy with the result, but I leave this stadium (where) I couldn't be prouder of any team I've ever coached. We got beat by a very good team. Alabama is a great team and has every ability to win a World Series."

In two days, Dunne (27-3) allowed three base runners in ten innings. Her sixth career no-hitter is a school record. Saturday, she had seven strikeouts. She now has 11.2 consecutive hitless innings and 15 straight scoreless frames. She's on a roll, as in Tide.

"I felt like I threw fewer change-ups than yesterday," said Dunne. "In the middle part of the season, when I wasn't able to practice (due to injury), I didn't have it. Later in the season, I started working on it. Props to (pitching coach) Vann (Stuedeman).

"I'm just excited for our team and for our seniors to be going back to the World Series." Saturday, the sophomore blanked the Gamecocks for the second straight day and, like Friday, yielded no base hits. She lost her perfect game in the final frame, the fifth inning of the run-rule win, when she walked JSU's Courtney Underwood on a 3-2 change that was called a ball by home plate umpire Katrina Kershaw.

"She's a good pitcher, clearly," said JSU catcher Allie Barker," but I don't think she was better than she was yesterday."

The Tide got homers from Kellie Eubanks and Kelley Montalvo, and scored twice on bases-loaded walks by Ashley Eliasson (18-8). Eliasson was relieved by Kayla Collins, who wears No. 77, as her dad Doug did when he played for Paul Bryant's Alabama football team in the 1970's . Collins gave up Montalvo's bomb.

" Just being there on our home field, hearing the crowd. I kept thinking, ‘I've got to do this,'" said Montalvo, whose towering two-run shot to left center in the top of the fifth allowed the run rule to be enforced. (Bama was the visiting team due to an NCAA coin flip.)

"I got a good piece of it, and it was awesome." All season, the theme of the Tide has been "the unspoken goal." That goal is the win the school's first WCWS.

"The hardest thing is getting there, and we've never won the first game," said Murphy. "That's our goal now. We're still not talking about winning it all yet."

"As a senior, it's really special," said second baseman Lauren Parker. "It's just an incredible feeling to be going back to the World Series. You remember the feeling you had last year, and you have a chip on your shoulder.

"We faced some struggles and some adversity early on, which I think was a blessing in disguise. I don't feel like we're done yet. There's still some growing to be done. You just demand perfection, and leave it all on the field. Our team has done that so far, and we need to continue to do it."

Said Montalvo, "We're not satisfied with just getting there (to the WCWS). Our senior class, we have this chemistry. We really get each other. I feel like the rest of the team is just on board with us."

"The five seniors have been through it all, and they've been great," Murphy said.

Neither team's representatives in the post-game interviews made an excuse of the steady drizzle the teams played in. "Hey, I'm glad we played," McGinnis opined.

Bama upped it's record to 52-9, while the Gamecocks ended their season at 43-16.

The Women's College World Series begins in Oklahoma City on Thursday.

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