Alabama Softball Win Away From Title

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Alabama softball is in a sprint to the finish line, and the Crimson Tide got off to a quick start Saturday. Bama scored four runs in the first inning of the first game and went on to sweep Mississippi State in a doubleheader Saturday. On Sunday, the Crimson Tide can win the Southeastern Conference championship with another win over the Bulldogs.

With the win, Alabama improved to 22-4 in SEC play. The Tide, 44-9, is ranked third in the nation in one poll and fourth in another. Following Sunday's game, Bama will be going to Fayetteville, Ark., for the SEC Tournament. If the Tide can wrap up the regular season championship Sunday. Alabama will be the number one seed in the SEC Tournament.

Alabama and Mississippi State will play the third game of the weekend series at MSU Softball Field beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Alabama has now won 20 consecutive games this season. The Tide has also defeated Mississippi State in 18 consecutive games over the past seven years. Bama hopes to win its second SEC title on Sunday.

"The first inning of the first game really set the tone," Alabama Coach Patrick Murphy said. "It was a great start and we were able to build on that throughout the day. We have one more game to go and just need to keep it going."

Courtney Conley and Jazlyn Lunceford combined to drive in 10 runs in Alabama's doubleheader sweep Saturday. The Tide earned a 10-1 win in game one and then sealed the series with an 8-2 victory in the nightcap.

Game 1 Alabama opened with four runs in the first inning and never looked back as it ran past Mississippi State 10-1 in the series opener Saturday. Freshman Kayla Braud tallied three hits and scored three runs while Jazlyn Lunceford drove in three and collected two hits. Kelsi Dunne struck out 11 and allowed just four hits to improve to 23-4 on the season.

In the first Braud started the scoring by coming around on a throwing error by Chelsea Bramlett on a Whitney Larsen steal attempt. Larsen then scored on an illegal pitch by Misty Flesher. Lunceford got her day going with a single deep in the infield at second to plate Amanda Locke. The Tide capped off its scoring in the inning when Courtney Conley ripped a double left to score Lunceford.

The Tide added another in the second when Cassie Reilly-Boccia singled through the right side to plate Braud from second to extend the Alabama lead to 5-0.

After MSU got a run in the third, UA added a run in the fifth and four more in the sixth to put the game away.

Lunceford recorded another RBI, this time the easy way as she drew a bases loaded walk to plate pinch-runner Lisa Elizondo. In the sixth Larsen singled through the left side to bring home Braud and then Locke took a bases loaded walk to bring home Reilly-Boccia. Lunceford singled home Charlotte Morgan and then pinch-hitter Alex Blewitt hit a sac-fly to left to score Larsen.

Dunne went the distance, allowing one unearned run and walking two to improve to 23-4 on the season. She has now earned the win in 10 straight starts.

Game 2

Kayla Braud collected two more hits and Courtney Conley drove in four to lead Alabama to an 8-2 victory in the backend of the doubleheader Saturday. Charlotte Morgan struck out three and allowed one earned run to improve to 7-2 on the season.

Lunceford continued to provide the punch in game two as she opened the contest with a two-run single to centerfield that plated Morgan Whitney Larsen.

Mississippi State answered in the second but Alabama then came back with three more to take a 5-1 lead. Morgan helped herself out in the circle by smacking a double to right-center that scored Braud. Conley then ripped a two-run single through the left side to score Morgan and Amanda Locke.

The Bulldogs scored another in the bottom half but the Tide added a run in the fourth and capped off its day with another in the seventh to earn the win.

Cassie Reilly-Boccia lined a double down the right field line to score Braud all the way from first to give Alabama a 7-2 lead after four.

Conley then got some help on a leadoff home run in the sixth. She hit a deep shot that got caught in the wind and was moving towards the foul pole in right and Brittany Bell tried to make a jumping grab but it caromed off her glove and over the fence for the round-tripper.

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