May 29, 2010

By Christopher Walsh
Special to NCAA.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - University of Alabama junior pitcher Kelsi Dunne introduced herself to Hawai'i on Saturday morning, and it's a name the Rainbow Wahine may never forget.

Dunne threw a two-hitter and struck out seven while sophomore Amanda Locke hit two home runs as the Crimson Tide took Game 1 of their NCAA Super Regional at the Alabama Softball Complex, 8-0 in five innings.

The win put Alabama (52-9) just one victory away from the College World Series, with Game 2 scheduled for later Saturday.

Locke's first home run came off an 0-1 pitch that she hit to the opposite field for a 1-0 lead in the second inning. She then highlighted a six-run third when Alabama sent 10 batters to the plate and recorded five hits. This time she drove one over the left-center field wall for her ninth home run of the season to chase starting pitcher Stephanie Ricketts.

SEC Player of the Year Charlotte Morgan had the other big hit of the inning, a two-run single to right with the bases loaded.

Morgan had the bases loaded again with no outs in the fourth. She flied out to center, but center fielder Jennifer Fenton tagged up and scored the key eighth run.

The best chance Hawai'i (47-14) had to score came in the fourth inning when with one out junior Jenna Rodriguez walked, sophomore left fielder Alexandra Aguirre doubled over the left fielder's head and senior right fielder Kanani Pu'u-Warren was hit by a pitch.

But Dunne got out of the jam by striking out senior right fielder Amanda Tauali'i and getting senior catcher Katie Grimes to pop out to third with a full count.

Junior third baseman Melissa Gonzalez had Hawaii's other hit, a first-inning single.

Meanwhile, Alabama freshman second baseman Kayla Braud went 3-for-3 to improve her batting average to .522.

Although Alabama is the top-seeded team in the NCAA Tournament, Hawai'i coach Bob Coolen was quoted earlier this week that he didn't know who the Crimson Tide's starting pitcher was - which raised more than a few eyebrows in Tuscaloosa.

"To be honest with you, no disrespect to their pitcher, but I didn't know her name," he said after arriving here. "I was quoted on that in USA Today, but I really didn't know who she was. I don't really worry that much about the opponent. I worry about the colors that we wear. That is how we approach our game."

Making matters worse for Hawai'i was that after Friday night's game was rained out a number of players got food poisoning eating at a chain establishment on campus. With Saturday's games moved up due to the threat of inclement weather to 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Central Time, it left little recovery time.

If necessary, Game 3 of the series will be Sunday at a time to be determined.