Alabama takes two to reach WCWS
Timely hitting pushes Crimson Tide to seventh WCWS bid
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Second-seeded Alabama beat the Stanford Cardinal 1-0 in the decisive third game of the Tuscaloosa Super Regional in Rhoads Stadium on Friday night.
With the win, Alabama advanced to the Women’s College World Series for the seventh time in the program’s 15-year history.
“That was one of the best ball games we have had in the stadium, one of the best crowds, one of the best atmospheres,” UA coach Patrick Murphy said. “It was awesome.”
The Tide (51-9) had to win both games on Friday after losing the series opener to the Cardinal 5-2 on Thursday. Alabama rolled in the Super Regional’s second game, scoring in every inning, and invoking the run rule to win 10-0 in five innings. The third game was a much tighter affair, with both teams grinding out four hits apiece, but only one of those crossing the plate.
Freshman pitcher Jackie Traina, who singled in the bottom of the sixth inning, scored when junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia ripped a triple down the right-field line.
“Right before that bat, I was in the on deck circle and Ryan Iamurri came up to me and said, ‘Don’t think about it being two outs or it being the last out in the Super Regionals. This will be your moment,’” Reilly-Boccia said. “She really kept me focused and in the moment. It was tough not to think about a lot of different things at the same time. Jackie and I don’t even know where the ball went. All I remember thinking was, ‘Please let (Traina) get all the way from first base.”
Traina (19-5), who picked up the win, came back in the top of the seventh and tossed her fifth strikeout and forced two ground outs to finish the game. Teagan Gerhart, who pitched 16 of the Cardinal’s 18 innings across the three games, picked up the loss to go to 26-13 on the season.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘You have got to pitch the game of your life here,’” Traina said. “Coach Murphy told me to spin it and not to throw the ball hard. I just went out there and had a really positive feeling. I knew I had all of my support sisters behind me. Kelsi (Dunne) said, ‘You got this. This is your game,’ then we did our handshake, and I got out there. It was such a great feeling.”
In the first game on Friday the Tide bats exploded, plating 10 runs on 14 hits. Junior Jennifer Fenton tied a career high with six RBIs, going 4 for 4 at the plate, including a timely grand slam. Alabama’s ace, senior Kelsi Dunne took the win, pushing her record to 27-4 this season while Stanford’s Gerhart took the loss.
The Tide, which has advanced to 13 NCAA tournaments in its 15 years, has now won five Super Regional titles and returns to WCWS for the first time since earning back-to-back berths in 2008 and 2009.
“There are only eight schools (that advance to the WCWS), and you never know when you are going to do it again,” Murphy said. “This is the toughest part, getting there. For those two (seniors Kelsi Dunne and Whitney Larsen) to get to go again is awesome.”