Bama uses early flurry to win WCWS opener

OKLAHOMA CITY — Alabama leapt out to an early 4-0 lead after the first inning and held off SEC rival Tennessee for a 5-3 opening round victory Thursday night in the Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

First baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia cleared the bases with a three-run double, and pitcher Jackie Traina helped her own cause with a bases-loaded walk to put a crooked number up on the board through just the one frame.

"Well, I thought the first inning was the key," said Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy. "I think all of us in here would love to pitch with a 4-0 lead after the first inning. And our batters did a great job, took advantage of some walks."

Meanwhile, the Tennessee offense just didn't quite have enough pop in its lineup on this night to come all the way back.

"That was a dominating performance by Jackie Traina," said Vols head coach Ralph Weekly. "She did a fantastic job, and the Alabama team deserves credit. They came out on fire and attacking the ball."

Two runs in the second cut the lead in half when Vols left fielder Melissa Davin slammed a two-run bomb to left.

But the Crimson Tide got back to work in the fourth.

An RBI single by center fielder Jennifer Fenton, who plated left fielder Kayla Braud, extended the lead back to three.

"I thought we did a great job of swinging at good pitches," Braud said. "We made adjustments. We didn't do as good as we would have liked, but I think we tried to balance it very well, like you said, between taking and swinging at strikes."

And that proved to be plenty enough.

The Vols chipped into it in the seventh on third baseman Raven Chavanne's run-scoring infield single, but the Crimson Tide stopped it right there.

A pair of strikeouts sent Tennessee to the loser's bracket, where it will now face Oregon at 1:30 p.m. CT Saturday, while Alabama advances to the winner's bracket round against Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. CT Friday.

"You know, this is the World Series," Weekly said. "And people have asked me about all kinds of different excuses. There's no excuses. That was a softball game, and we played hard, and they played hard, and they came out on top."

Reilly-Boccia led the Bama offense with three RBI and a 1-for-2 evening, while Davin finished 1-for-2 with two RBI and two runs scored for the Vols.

Traina improved to 38-2, while Tennessee starter Ivy Renfroe fell to 25-9 on the year.

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