May 23, 2009

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama sophomore hurler Kelsi Dunne tossed her third no-hitter of the season to lead the Crimson Tide to a convincing 9-0, 5-inning victory over Jacksonville State Friday afternoon in the first game of the NCAA Softball Tuscaloosa Super Regional. The win moves Alabama to 51-9 on the season while the Gamecocks drop to 43-15 on the year.

"It was just a great game for us, starting with Kelsi (Dunne) and just up and down the lineup, that's the way we wanted it to be all year long," Alabama head coach Pat Murphy said. "I think we had nine people score and eight people got hits and you can't ask for anything better."

The no-hitter is the second in NCAA postseason play by an Alabama pitcher. Chrissy Owens tossed the first against Mississippi Valley State on May 19, 2006. The no-hitter is the fifth of Dunne's career which ties the Alabama record set by Stephanie VanBrakle.

"She has not thrown like this very often this year, she had a similar performance against Washington earlier this year, but today her changeup was a secret weapon and I think that surprised everybody," Murphy said. "That's a big credit to Vann Stuedeman, our pitching coach. That was a great way to come out."

The nine runs were all scored by different players. The run-rule victory is the third of this postseason by Alabama and the second in as many seasons in postseason play against the Gamecocks.

Dunne (26-3) tossed five complete innings and only allowed two runners to reach base as she hit a batter and walked one. The Port Orange, Fla. native struck out seven and only tossed 76 pitches.

"Honestly I never really think about (throwing a no-hitter)," Dunne said. "I just try to go out there and keep runners out of scoring position and put our team in the best possible position to win the ball game."

Alabama began the scoring in a big way, plating seven runs in the third inning on five hits. Senior Kelley Montalvo got the rally going when she hit a single to left that scored senior Brittany Rogers and senior Lauren Parker.

After an RBI off the bat of senior Ashley Holcombe, freshman Amanda Locke drilled a double down the left field line to score pinch-runner freshman Lisa Elizondo and freshman Cassandra Reilly-Boccia. Senior Kellie Eubanks closed out the inning with a triple off the left field wall that scored Locke and pinch-runner sophomore Cat Dozier.

The Crimson Tide tacked on two more in the fourth to secure the run rule victory. Reilly-Boccia started the scoring when smacked a double off the right-centerfield wall to score junior Charlotte Morgan from second. Holcombe then singled up the middle to cap off the scoring.

Montalvo paced Alabama at the plate with two hits and two RBI. Holcombe, Locke and Eubanks also tallied a pair of RBI for the Tide.

"It's really exciting when eight of us get a hit, everything just keeps going," Montalvo said. "If our defense is consistent, we're going to scratch out a run and then from then on everything just flows up and down the lineup. I think it's great where we have a thing where we can just pass it down. When someone gets on base, you can just pass it down to the next girl and from there on it just flows."

Karla Pittman (17-4) was tagged with the loss for JSU. Pittman was chased after 3 2/3 innings after allowing nine runs - seven earned on nine hits while striking out two.

Alabama will look to earn its sixth Women's College World Series berth when it faces Jacksonville State again on Saturday, May 22 with first pitch slated for 11:00 a.m. at the Alabama Softball Complex. Game three if necessary will be played immediately following the conclusion of game two.