May 11, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The top seeded Alabama softball team used a Courtney Conley home run and some key defensive stops to shut out Georgia, 1-0, to advance to the Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship game. Alabama will play the third seeded Florida Gators at noon on Saturday.
"That was fun", Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "It was a heck of a game. I think everybody got their money's worth. Two really good teams, two good pitchers going at it. That's fastpitch softball. Every pitch matters in the game of softball. We're very fortunate to have Jackie Traina on our side, but the defense behind her was really, really good today."
Alabama improves to 49-7 on the year, while Georgia falls to 41-15 overall. The Crimson Tide improved to 31-19 overall at the SEC Tournament.
Alabama used another solid start by Jackie Traina, who improved to 33-2 on the year after throwing a complete game shutout. Traina gave up six hits and struck out five batters on the day. The shutout was her sixth of the season.
"I wish she'd get three up, three down, for sure, with nobody on," Murphy said. "It's like the pressure sets in when there's somebody on and then she goes to work. It's kind of strange. She did it for sure last year, and she's done it for probably the past month this year. Everybody's very pleased that she's wearing Crimson, for sure."
Erin Arevalo dropped to 23-7 on the season after giving up one run on just three hits and struck out three batters on the afternoon.
Alabama managed just three hits on the afternoon, but its defensive plays forced Georgia to strand seven runners. On top of Conley's sixth home run of the year, junior Kayla Braud and senior Jennifer Fenton tallied the other hits for the Tide.
Alabama got the scoring started in the third inning. After being no-hit by Arevalo for over two innings, Conley laced a two-out solo shot over the left field wall to give the Crimson Tide a 1-0 lead.
Moments after being taken out on a tag at first, Cassie Reilly-Boccia took a sharp ground ball and threw home to Kendall Dawson, who applied the tag to keep the score 1-0, and that was the closest Georgia would come to scoring again.
The Bulldogs tried to mount a comeback in the top of the seventh inning, leading off with a single and a hit batter with no outs, but Traina was able to strike out the next two batters and force a groundout to end the game.
Alabama and Florida will start at noon on Saturday, with the game being broadcast on ESPN2. Beth Mowins will have the call and will be joined by Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith. It will be the third time the two teams meet in the championship game.