May 29, 2009

Courtesy of Alabama Athletics

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - The fourth seeded Alabama softball team dropped its opening round game of the Women's College World Series Thursday night to No. 5 seed Michigan, 6-1 at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium.

"They (Michigan) played great, but I certainly didn't see that coming," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "It came as a complete surprise to me. I was really disappointed."

The Wolverines scored six runs on eight hits to earn the win and improve to 47-10 on the season while the Crimson Tide drop to 52-10 on the year.

"The positive is that we get to play more games," Murphy said. "(Assistant coaches) Vann (Stuedeman) and Alyson (Habetz) have said all year long that there's always a positive in a negative. Definitely the positive is that we get to play more games and be here longer."

The Wolverines struck first, taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning. Michigan pitcher Nikki Nemitz drew a walk, Dorian Shaw was hit by a pitch and Stephanie Kirkpatrick singled to left field to load the bases. Wolverine senior shortstop Teddi Ewing drew a walk to put Michigan on top 1-0.

Michigan scored another run in the top of the third inning when freshman catcher Amanda Chidester hit a solo home run over the center field wall. Michigan plated a run for the third straight inning in the top of the fourth when Ewing hit a grounder that slid just beyond the reach of Kellie Eubanks at shortstop, scoring Kristin Larsen to give UM a 3-0 lead.

The Wolverines scored three runs on four singles and a UA error in the top of the sixth to put the game away.

Alabama would make some noise in the bottom of the seventh. Holcombe singled to left and Kellie Eubanks walked, bringing up Whitney Larsen who had Alabama's most impressive hit of the game with a line-drive double off the center-field wall, scoring Holcombe. The rumble would be too little, too late though with the 6-1 margin marking Alabama's worst loss at the Women's College World Series. The Tide, making its sixth WCWS appearance, has yet to win its first game in Oklahoma City.

"We're going to come together as a team," Alabama junior Charlotte Morgan said. "We have to come out on fire. We've been here before. We've got a good pitching staff. We're a great team and we're going to go all out."

Nemitz improved to 28-5 on the season with the win, allowing only one run on three hits. Kelsi Dunne, allowed six runs, four earned and gave up six hits, was tagged with her fourth loss of the year, putting her at 27-4 on the season. Kirkpatrick's single in the second inning was the first hit Dunne had allowed in 13.1 innings.

"They have great hitters, one through nine," Dunne said. "Ultimately you can't give them free passes and I was doing that a little too much tonight."

Alabama will play the loser of Thursday night's matchup between No. 1 seed Florida and No. 9 Arizona. The elimination game will be played Saturday at 1:00 p.m. CDT and will be broadcast on ESPNHD.