Alabama Softball Hosts Hawaii

The Alabama softball team of Coach Patrick Murphy is two wins away from the Women's College World Series, but a powerful opponent stands in the path of the Crimson Tide. Bama will host Hawaii in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional in a best-of-three series beginning Friday.

Alabama is the number one seed in the NCAA Tournament, but at this point there are no weak opponents. Hawaii certainly is not. Bama is 51-9 overall and ranked third in the nation, but the Rainbow Wahine is not far behind at 47-13 and ranked 11th in the nation. Alabama was 23-4 in SEC play, but Hawaii was 19-1 in WAC competition.

Alabama is on a nice streak. The Crimson Tide has won a school record-tying 27 consecutive games, including cruising to the Southeastern Conference regular season and tournament titles and the NCAA Regional at the Alabama Softball Complex. Bama won 27 in a row to start the 2001 season.

Alabama and Hawaii will begin play in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional at 5:30 p.m. CDT Friday with television coverage by ESPNU. The Saturday game will begin at 4 p.m. CDT with the "if necessary" Sunday game beginning at 6:30. Saturday's game will be televised by ESPN, as will the Sunday game if it's needed.

Alabama claimed its sixth straight regional title and eighth overall by sweeping its way through the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional. The Crimson Tide opened the postseason with a 9-0 run-rule win over Alcorn State and then defeated Lipscomb twice, by the scores of 5-2 and 6-0.

Freshman Kayla Braud led the way offensively for Bama in the regional as she hit .667 (6 for 9) on the weekend. Braud had a home run, scored four times, and drove in four, and stole three bases.

In the circle Kelsi Dunne earned two victories on the strength of allowing only one earned run on seven hits in 14 innings. The junior struck out 24 and has now earned a victory in 16 straight starts.

Hawaii enters Tuscaloosa with the most potent lineup in NCAA history. The Rainbow Wahine has slugged more home runs (149) this season than any other squad in a single season. Hawaii enters the Tuscaloosa Super Regional with a .330 batting average and has out-scored its opponents 469-185 on the year.

Leading the way offensively is Melissa Gonzalez and her .411 batting average. Gonzalez has drilled 25 home runs and driven in a team-best 60 runs. Kelly Majam follows with a .403 average and is tied for the NCAA lead with 29 homers and closely follows her teammate with 59 RBI. Eight hitters in the UH lineup have belted 10 or more home runs while five have driven in 50 or more runs.

In the circle the team sports a 2.66 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .239 average. Stephanie Ricketts leads the team with a 27-7 record and a 2.35 ERA. Ricketts has struck out 148 in 220 innings and has held opponents to a .227 batting clip. Kaia Parnaby follows with a 2.89 ERA and a 19-6 record.

Alabama and Hawaii have met three times with the Crimson Tide having won all three, and won them all by a single run. Most recently, the teams met early last season at the Cathedral City Classic near Palm Springs, Calif. The Crimson Tide earned a 1-0 win in eight innings in that contest on February 21, 2009. Charlotte Morgan tossed seven innings and struck out 10 in the no decision. Kelsi Dunne earned the win by fanning two in one inning of relief. Stephanie Ricketts went the distance for Hawaii, allowing four hits while striking out 11. Amanda Locke collected the only RBI in the game. The other two matchups came at the Malihini Kipa Aloha Tournament in 2005 where Alabama earned 3-1 and 4-3 victories.

In just 14 years of existence, the Alabama softball program is playing in its 13th NCAA tournament. The Tide has advanced to an NCAA Regional in every season under Murphy. The Crimson Tide has a 40-11 record in NCAA Regional action, 32-9 in regionals and 8-2 in Super Regionals. This is the sixth consecutive year Alabama has been selected to host an NCAA Regional. The Tide is 25-3 in regional games played at the Alabama Softball Complex and has posted a 6-0 super regional mark in Tuscaloosa.

Alabama entered NCAA postseason play with a 29-9 record against the tournament field. The Crimson Tide has won its last 13 against teams in the tournament. As a team Alabama is batting .284 and has out-scored its opponents 227-118. Freshman Kayla Braud leads all Tide hitters with a .482 average (54 for 112), 39 runs scored and 24 stolen bases. Sophomore Jennifer Fenton follows with a .302 average and has added 22 runs, five home runs, 17 RBI and 18 stolen bases. Sophomore Amanda Locke leads all Tide players with nine home runs against the field. Senior Charlotte Morgan paces the team with 31 RBI and adds seven home runs and a .287 average. In the circle the Tide sports a 2.67 ERA and has held opponents to a .210 hitting clip. Junior Kelsi Dunne leads the staff with a 2.24 ERA and a 20-4 record. The right-hander has struck out 240 in 146 2/3 innings pitched.

Alabama senior Charlotte Morgan (Moreno Valley, Calif.) was named to the 2010 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America Softball Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America. Morgan garners first-team accolades for the first time in her career.

The senior was tabbed to the second-team last season and earned third-team honors in 2008. Morgan became just the second player in Alabama history (Ginger Jones, 2001) to earn first team honors and also the first softball student-athlete to garner Academic All-America accolades all three seasons of eligibility for the award.

Morgan earned her degree in criminal justice this spring and finished with a 3.80 GPA. She is also a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

On the field Morgan has left her mark as one of the most dangerous bats to ever put on an Alabama uniform. The senior is currently batting .347 and leads the team with 16 home runs and 67 RBI. The Moreno Valley, Calif., native has added 56 walks, sports a .533 on base percentage and is slugging .762.

To be eligible for Academic All-America consideration, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her current institution and be nominated by his/her sports information director.

Since the program's inception in 1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more than 14,000 student-athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all NCAA championship sports.

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