Alabama evens series with Florida
Tide scores early, often to take one-game lead into season finale
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama clinched at least a share of its third consecutive Southeastern Conference title as the Crimson Tide run-ruled Florida 9-1 Saturday afternoon in front of 3,640 fans at Rhoads Stadium.
With the win, Alabama improved to 46-6 overall and 22-5 in the SEC, while Florida dropped to 44-9 overall and 21-6 in the SEC. A win by the Tide in the finale seals sole possession of the SEC regular-season title.
Alabama cranked out seven hits on the day, including two by junior Kayla Braud. Courtney Conley knocked in three runs for Alabama, while Jazlyn Lunceford drove in two. The run-rule loss for the Gators was its first since Kentucky did the honors on April 1 of last season.
Jackie Traina pitched a complete game for Alabama, holding the Gators to just four hits en route to improving to 30-2 on the year. Traina struck out six batters and gave up just one run. Hannah Rogers took the loss for Florida, dropping to 26-5 on the year.
Alabama opened the scoring in the second inning when sophomore Kaila Hunt lined a solo shot over the wall in left. The Tide plated two more in the frame when Conley singled up the middle to score pinch-runner Danae Hays and senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia.
After Hunt hit her 17th home run on the season, senior Amanda Locke would not be outdone as she smashed her 17th the next inning. The home run was a two-run shot over the wall in left to move the Tide lead to 5-0.
Traina then walked and advanced to second on a dropped fly ball off the bat of Hunt. After Reilly-Boccia hit a sacrifice bunt to move the runners, Lunceford hit a single up the middle to score two more runs and increase the lead to 7-0. Kendall Dawson followed with a single, and Conley hit a sacrifice fly to score Lunceford and push the lead to 8-0.
After Florida pushed across a run in the fifth inning, Alabama ended the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Senior Jennifer Fenton advanced to third on a sacrifice fly after reaching on a fielder's choice and later scored on an error after a hard hit ball by Hunt raced by Coyle to end the game.