Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama Softball Wins Regional Championship

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama Softball Wins Regional Championship

Article excerpt

TUSCALOOSA | The University of Alabama could have coasted to the championship at the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional, but the Crimson Tide had bigger plans.

Alabama, the No. 2 national seed in the NCAA Softball Tournament, closed with a flourish, scoring three runs in its last turn at bat and striking out South Alabama's last three hitters for a 6-0 victory in front of almost 2,100 fans at Rhoads Stadium.

Alabama (53-7) will host Michigan (42-15), the winner of the Louisville (Ky.) Regional, in a best-of-three Super Regional next week, with dates and times to be determined. The winner will advance to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.

UA scored one run in each of the first three innings, and ace Jackie Traina seemed to have the Jaguars (41-17) outclassed, but Alabama wanted more.

"We definitely weren't satisfied," said senior first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia, who went 3-for-3 to lead a nine-hit Crimson Tide attack. "We wanted a bigger run. We wanted to finish this game."

Alabama coach Patrick Murphy turned to freshman pinch hitter Jadyn Spencer to get it started in the sixth. She grounded back to the pitcher and reached on a fielding error. Second baseman Danae Hays put down a sacrifice bunt to move Spencer to second, and left fielder Kayla Braud doubled to give senior center fielder Jennifer Fenton two runners in scoring position.

Fenton doubled down the line, with the ball bounding high into the air when it hit the third-base bag, driving in both runners. Fenton came home on Traina's single up the middle.

"Even though it was hot, even though it was the end of a long weekend, we still came ready to hit late in the game," Reilly- Boccia said.

Traina (35-2) took care of the rest. She struck out the final three batters to give her 10 strikeouts on the day and 301 for the season, completing a two-hit shutout. It was a routinely dominant outing for Traina, but catcher Kendall Dawson said it could have been better.

"She was pretty sharp," Dawson said. "She wasn't on her 'A' game, but her lower-level games will still beat a lot of people. Even when she's not (at her best), she'll find a way."

The first three runs showed the top-to-bottom potency of Alabama's lineup. …

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