May 23, 2010

Courtesy of Alabama Athletics

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Behind the bat of freshman Courtney Conley and the arm of junior Kelsi Dunne, the No. 1 seeded Alabama softball team claimed the NCAA Softball Tuscaloosa Regional Championship Sunday afternoon, defeating Lipscomb 6-0.

With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 51-9 and ties the school record with its 27th straight victory. The regional title is the sixth in a row and eighth overall for Alabama.

"We haven't lost since like March 31," UA head coach Patrick Murphy said. "How do you complain about that? How do you find fault in that? I think if we just keep doing what we're doing, we've been playing really good defense and hopefully it's going to continue to improve."

Dunne (29-4) earned her second win of the weekend on the strength of a 14-strikeout, two-hit shutout. The win is the 16th in a row for the right-hander.

"They have a great team and great hitters," Dunne said of Lipscomb. "I just went out there and battled for my team because today was the day we move on to next weekend. I knew my role today was to keep them out of scoring position, and that's what I did. Our defense made some great plays, and I knew they were behind me and we scored enough runs to come out with the win."

Lipscomb sophomore Whitney Kiihnl took the loss, dropping to 33-5 on the season.

"I knew Whitney [Kiihnl] was going to be good and she was as good as advertised," Murphy said. "I talked to a coach in our league and said that she'd be one of the top five pitchers in our league. They (Lipscomb) will be back in regionals for sure."

Conley started things off for Alabama as she hit a blast just inside the foul pole to give the Tide an early 1-0 lead in the second inning. Alabama dialed up the long ball again as sophomore Amanda Locke sat on a changeup and hit a moon shot over the left-centerfield wall driving in senior Charlotte Morgan and giving Alabama a 3-0 lead.

"It was the same game plan at the plate which was to lay off the balls which is easier said than done," Murphy said. "I thought we did a good job of putting the ball in play."

Conley struck again in the bottom of the sixth, drilling the first pitch she saw over the left-center field wall for a solo home run to give the Tide a 4-0 advantage. Alabama continued to score in the inning when sophomore Cassie Reilly-Boccia brought in sophomore Kendall Dawson on a sac fly. Sophomore Jennifer Fenton then quickly increased the lead to 6-0 when she scored on an attempted pickoff play that got away from third base.

Alabama will host the winner of the Stanford regional in next weekend's NCAA Super Regional. Days and time will be announced at a later time.