May 15, 2010
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The Alabama softball team secured its fourth Southeastern Conference tournament title by downing LSU, 5-4 Saturday night at Bogle Park. Tournament MVP Kelsi Dunne struck out nine and Jennifer Fenton and Jazlyn Lunceford each went deep to extend the Crimson Tide's winning streak to 24 games. The regular season title and tournament championship in the same year is the first in program history for Alabama. After the win the Tide improves to 48-9 on the season.
"I thought the story today was Kelsi Dunne," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "What she did all week was phenomenal. We have never given the ball to a pitcher in three straight tournament games. We just decided to go with Kelsi because she was on a roll. She earned the MVP."
Dunne struck out nine and allowed four runs on five hits to earn her third win of the tournament and 14th in as many starts. She struck out 30 in 19 innings and posted a 1.84 ERA in the tournament.
Freshman Kayla Braud, who earned all-tournament team honors, set the tone atop the lineup by batting 3 for 4 with three stolen bases and a run scored. Alabama banged out eight hits in the winning effort.
"We played three really great teams this weekend," Braud said. "We faced a lot of adversity but never let up, never backed down and came back to win."
Alabama opened the scoring quickly on LSU by plating three runs in the first inning. Braud got the Tide going by scoring on a wild pitch after bunting her way on, stealing second and moving to third on a wild pitch.
Senior Alex Blewitt, getting the starting nod for the first time in the tournament, came through with a two-out bloop single right above the bag at second to score pinch-runner Catherine Dozier and Whitney Larsen.
Alabama added another in the fourth in very familiar fashion. Fenton blasted a long home run onto the hill in right-center to hand the Tide a 4-0 lead. Fenton hit a walk-off homer to right-center in the nightcap of a doubleheader against LSU earlier this season.
LSU answered in a big way by evening the score in the top of the fifth. After nearly a 30 minute delay due to an injury to the home plate umpire, the game resumed and the Tigers took advantage.
Jessica Mouse got LSU on the board with a RBI single to center and then Rachel Mitchell doubled in two runs with a shot to left-center. Juliana Santos capped off the top half by plating a run with the bases loaded on a fielder's choice to short.
Alabama had an answer of its own in the bottom of the frame as sophomore Jazlyn Lunceford took a 3-2 pitch and sent it well over the wall in straightaway center to seize the lead back and make it the eventual final of 5-4.
On top of Dunne and Braud, Fenton and Larsen earned all-tournament honors. Fenton led the team over the course of the tournament with a .625 average. Braud batted .556 while Larsen belted two home runs and added a .400 average.
The Tide will now learn its fate for the postseason on Sunday, May 16 when the NCAA announces its tournament selections. The field will be announced at 9:00 p.m. on ESPNU.