Alabama overcame a couple of early mistakes, battling back like it always has to secure an appearance in the Women’s College World Series for the fourth time in five years. The Tide beat the Michigan Wolverines 4-3 in front of 2,557 fans at Rhoads Stadium to complete the three-game series sweep in the Super Regionals.
“I am so proud of my team,” Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. “The six seniors have been incredible for their four years. I couldn’t ask for anybody better on my team and to represent the University of Alabama.”
It took a resilient effort from the Crimson Tide to come through. In the first inning, SEC Pitcher of the Year Jackie Traina gave up a solo home run to put Michigan on the board first. Then, the defense behind Traina made some critical errors.
We’re about 45 minutes away from first pitch between Alabama and Michigan in Game Two of their Super Regional series. Alabama won game one last night, meaning a win today would clinch a berth in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30, and the game will be televised on ESPN2.
If Michigan wins Game Two, the decisive Game Three would be later today at 6 p.m. on ESPN.
Jackie Traina will be pitching again for Alabama. She pitched a great game yesterday, and it’s obvious head coach Patrick Murphy doesn’t want to play a third game.
One expert observation as the fans start to file in to Rhoads Stadium: it is hot. Weather.com is showing a current temperature of 90 degrees and says it will get up to 92 around 5 this afternoon.
You would think that the hot weather would be in Alabama’s favor today, as the Wolverines aren’t used to playing in conditions like this.
We’ll have full coverage of all of today’s softball action right here. For live updates, follow @marctorrence on twitter.
Alabama used another strong pitching performance from right-handed ace Jackie Traina, as well as a three-run fifth inning to beat the Michigan Wolverines 4-1 in front of 2,475 fans at Rhoads Stadium, putting the Tide one win away from a berth in the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.
“It’s nice to get the first one in a two out of three, this is the key,” head coach Patrick Murphy said. “Jackie gutted it out a little bit, and we had some big RBIs from Conley, Hunt and Lunceford.”
Traina allowed just three hits and only one earned run in seven innings and struck out ten batters to get her 36th win of the year. But the sophomore walked four batters, putting her in a couple of jams in the otherwise-dominant performance.
She walked two batters in the fourth inning to put two Wolverines on base, but struck out the last batter to end the inning. In the sixth inning, she walked the leadoff batter, and it came back to bite her as an RBI-double scored the runner.
But Traina shut the door in the seventh to secure the win for the Tide.
“When I walk a couple, I know I have to step it up because one hit can be a big difference in the game,” Traina said. “In those situations, you rise to the occasion.”
Alabama jumped on the board in the second inning off of an RBI single from junior Courtney Conley that scored senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia. And in the fifth inning, as Traina battled through the Michigan lineup, Alabama’s dependable top three came through to give Traina some breathing room late in the game.
Junior Kayla Braud and senior Jennifer Fenton both got on base, and sophomore Kaila Hunt scored them both with an RBI-double. The hit gave Hunt her 71st and 72nd RBI of the season.
“We needed to get a little more runs than just one,” Hunt said. “We needed to have a little support for Jackie, and I just kind of stuck with my plan. I had a plan all game, and I stuck with it and it worked for me.”
“I had a good feeling about that inning, if Braud could get on,” Murphy said. “That’s kind of how it’s been.”
Later in the inning, after swinging for the fences in her first two at-bats, senior Jazlyn Lunceford settled down, slapping an RBI single up the middle that scored Hunt.
“Jaz just got enough of the change up. It was probably a 16-bouncer up the middle and she just got enough of it for a base hit,” Murphy said. “It doesn’t take much to score.”
Game 2 will be on Friday at 3:30 on ESPNU from Rhoads Stadium. Game 3, if necessary, will be on Friday at 6 p.m. on ESPN2.
Rhoads Stadium is packed for this one, still with about fifteen minutes to go until first pitch. Alabama is hosting Michigan for Game 1 of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional. First pitch is set for 7:00 p.m. and the game can be viewed on ESPN2.
It will be a heavyweight pitching matchup tonight as Alabama right-hander Jackie Traina (35-2, 1.68 ERA) goes up against left-hander Haylie Wagner (32-5, 1.46) for Michigan.
Follow along with us for all of your Alabama softball action. For live updates follow @marctorrence on twitter.