Alabama 4, Texas A&M 1

May 27, 2005

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS The eighth ranked Crimson Tide (61-13) took a huge step towards clinching a berth in the 2005 Womens College World Series as Alabama claimed a 4-1 win over the Texas A&M Aggies (48-8) in a best two-of-three series.

The Crimson Tide scored a run in each of the first four innings and never looked back quieting a crowd of 1,308 at the beginning of the game en route to the win.

Its what we talked about as a team, said Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy. We wanted to score early and we took the crowd out of it a little bit. It was a great night for college softball. Texas A&M has done a great job hosting.

Alabama wasted no time getting on the board, capitalizing on Texas A&M miscues and getting a clutch hit with a runner in scoring position. Jackie Wilkins (SR, Miami, Fla.) led off the game with a walk but was forced out at second on a sacrifice attempt by Jordan Praytor (FR, Vancouver, Wash.). Praytor then advanced to third on two passed balls from Aggie pitcher Megan Gibson. Ashley Courtney (SR, Vero Beach, Fla.) singled through the left side scoring Praytor and Alabama had a 1-0 lead.

Texas A&M threatened in the bottom of the first putting runners on first and second with one out, but Tide pitcher Stephanie VanBrakle (JR, Chambersburg, Pa.) got Gibson to ground into an inning ending double play.

Staci Ramsey (JR, Houston, Texas) added to the Alabama lead, leading off the top of the second with her 10th home run of the season, a solo shot to centerfield spotting the Tide a 2-0 lead.

For the second straight inning, the Crimson Tide led off with a home run, this time off the bat of Wilkins, her fifth of the season putting Alabama on top 3-0.

Bama continued to add to its lead in the fourth, again with Wilkins providing the damage. Capper Reed was hit by a pitch with one out and stole second. Wilkins then delivered a two-out double to right centerfield scoring Reed putting Alabama on top 4-0.

Texas A&M mounted another rally in the bottom of the fifth putting runners on second and third, but VanBrakle got pinch hitter Laura Durham to ground out to Ramsey at third ending the inning.

The Aggies finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth with a lead off home run from Jana James cutting Alabamas lead to 4-1, but A&M could get no closer.

VanBrakle (32-6) collected the win allowing one run while scattering four hits while striking out six batters. Her sixth strikeout ended the game and tied former Alabama All-America Shelley Laird for strikeouts in a season with 310.

Wilkins did her job as the lead off batter going 2-3 with a home run, a double, two RBI and a run scored.

My drop was working pretty good, said VanBrakle. I wasnt sharp, I missed a couple low.

The two teams will get together tomorrow for the second game of the series. Alabama can clinch its third berth in six years at the Womens College World Series with a single victory. Texas A&M must sweep the doubleheader in order to make its first berth since 1988 at the WCWS.

Game Notes:

--Jackie Wilkins moved to second all-time in UA history with her 270th career game played.

--Ashley Courtney extended hitting streak to six games.

--Stephanie VanBrakle made her career high 41st appearance of the season.

--VanBrakle allowed her first walk in 22.2 innings.

-- Wilkins home run in the third inning was the 589th of the season for the Tide, the most hits in a single season for Alabama.

--Wilkins RBI double was her career high 9th double of the season as well as her 100th career RBI.

--VanBrakle allowed first home run since April 3 vs. Ole Miss a span of 80.2 innings pitched.

--Alabama broke Texas A&Ms 21-game home winning streak. Ole Miss was the last team to defeat the Aggies in College Station with a 2-0 victory on February 19.

-- Courtesy Alabama