May 9, 2010
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STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Alabama softball team clinched its second Southeastern Conference regular season title by downing Mississippi State, 6-1, Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Crimson Tide belted three home runs while Kelsi Dunne shut down the Bulldog bats to earn the sweep and the championship. After the win Alabama improves to 45-9 overall and 23-4 in SEC play and has tallied 21 straight victories.
"It is an incredible accomplishment for the entire team," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "The team knew what they had to do and they just continued to get the job done. There was a lot of pressure on the team but they handled it really well. They earned it."
Charlotte Morgan, Whitney Larsen and Amanda Locke each went deep as the home runs accounted for five of the six runs. The Tide hit two-run homers in the first and in the third and added a solo shot in the sixth. Dunne (24-4) went the distance, allowing five hits and an unearned run while fanning 11 to down the Bulldogs.
The Tide once again jumped on the Bulldogs early when Larsen opened the scoring in a big way. With two outs the junior shortstop cleared the trees behind the fence in left to give Alabama an early 2-0 advantage.
After MSU scored an unearned run in the bottom of the first UA added two more runs again with the long ball. Morgan turned on an inside pitch and handed the Tide a 4-1 lead when she hit a two-run shot to left to score Kayla Braud.
"It is great to be able to come out on top," Morgan said. "It goes to show that all the hard work and togetherness has really paid off. It is an indescribable feeling to be able to clinch. We clinched it because we did what we needed to do and didn't worry about what other people were doing."
In the sixth Alabama got an insurance run with one swing of the bat as Locke hit a high shot that sailed over the right field fence and into the tailgaters in the parking lot.
The Tide capped off its scoring in the seventh when Larsen doubled down the left field line to score Cassie Reilly-Boccia.
Dunne struck out Courtney Nesbit for the final out of the game and was mobbed in the circle by her teammates to start the celebration.
"It was really exciting," Dunne said. "We may have had a rough start but everyone bought into the plan and stayed together and it has all paid off. When we had her (Nesbit) down 0-2 I just really wanted to end it right there."
Larsen paced the Tide at the plate with two hits and three RBI. Reilly-Boccia tallied two walks and scored twice.
Alabama will now head into the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will face No. 8 seed Arkansas in the opening round. The two teams will meet on Thursday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU.