Jackie Traina returned to the circle to pitch for Alabama after eight days off and didn’t miss a beat, allowing just two hits and striking out ten as Alabama beat South Alabama 5-2 in the NCAA Softball Tuscaloosa Regional to advance to the Regional final on Sunday.
Her only two hits allowed were both solo home runs in the second and seventh inning, but the Tide bats more than made up for it in the win.
“It’s not a bad thing,” head coach Patrick Murphy said about falling behind early. “It showed that we could come back. I don’t think anybody panicked in the dugout. Everybody believed that eventually we could do it.”
After a scoreless first inning, the Jaguars got on the board first, when Christin Crocker hit a solo shot to left field that put South Alabama up 1-0.
But Alabama struck back in the third with a three-run inning to gain a lead it wouldn’t surrender. The sequence started when South Alabama right fielder Blair Johnson tripped fielding a routine fly ball from Danae Hays. Hays reached second and eventually was scored on an RBI single by Jennifer Fenton.
Then, senior Kaila Hunt delivered a nine-pitch at-bat that ended with a two-run home run to put Alabama up 3-1.
“I had noticed that early in the count, [pitcher Hannah Campbell] had been coming in, and when she got hits she was going away, so that’s how I approached the at bat,” Hunt said. “When I got two strikes, I was trying to protect and she brought me the pitch. She put it over the plate after I battled.”
Alabama added two runs in the fifth, but it could have been more. Hunt thought she had another home run, but left fielder Alyssa Linn reached over the wall to take it away. The hit was still enough to score the runner from third.
“She made a great play on it,” Hunt said. “At least I got an RBI out of it, I’ll take it. Obviously I’m upset about it, but it’s part of the game, it happens.”
Apart from two pitches, Traina dominated the game pitching for Alabama. She improved to 34-2 on the year and will be counted on even more as the Tide tries to advance deep in postseason play.
“They just weren’t my best pitches. If you just leave them there, it’s gonna happen,” Traina said about the two home runs. “It was nice to get my body feeling back to as good as it can feel and my legs felt good, I wasn’t sore. It felt good.”
With the win, Alabama advances to the Regional final on Sunday at 1 p.m from Rhoads Stadium. The Tide will play whichever team among Georgia Tech, Tennessee Martin or South Alabama comes out of the loser’s bracket.
“This was the important game,” Murphy said. “You don’t want to keep playing today and then sit back and see who wins. They have to battle it out.”
Filed Under: Softball