May 17, 2008
Final Stats |
By Scott Latta, UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA - Behind the arm of freshman pitcher Kelsi Dunne and the first back-to-back-to-back home runs in school history, Alabama downed Jacksonville State Saturday night 4-1 in front of a standing-room-only 1,647 fans at the NCAA Softball Tuscaloosa Regional to advance to next weekend's NCAA Super Regional.
"I thought we just kept plugging away," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "We had a couple of line drives that were caught. When we didn't get that bunt down, I thought `Uh-oh' this might not be our night, but then (Lauren)Parker comes through and then (Ashley)Holcombe and (Whitney)Larsen, and they go back to back; I felt a lot better after that."
Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Alabama offense, which had managed only one hit to that point in the game, came alive. Junior Lauren Parker, stuck in an 0-for-16 slump since her return from an injury, sent an Ashley Eliasson pitch over the right field wall with a runner on to give the Tide a 2-1 lead.
Junior Ashley Holcombe then followed with a shot off the score board in left field to extend the lead to 3-1. Four pitches later, freshman Whitney Larsen sent another Eliasson offering off the Alabama scoreboard to put Alabama up by three.
The back-to-back-to-back home runs, which came from Alabama's 7-8-9 hitters, were the first in school history.
"I think overall, from not playing for a month and then coming back, it was just something to see pitches and hit batting practice," Parker said. "I just tried to focus on letting it happen, and patience. It was just a matter of time before it felt right and I still don't feel like I'm quite there yet, but I think that's just going to take time."
The four runs proved to be plenty for freshman pitcher Kelsi Dunne, who went the distance for the Tide, allowing one run on three hits while striking out 10 in seven innings.
The win was Dunne's 24th on the year, tying the Alabama freshman record for wins in a season. In the fifth inning, Dunne recorded her 243rd strikeout of the season, passing former Tide star Shelly Laird for fifth-place on the single-season strikeout list.
"I haven't honestly (seen anything like that)," Dunne said about Alabama's fifth-inning offensive explosion. "I've never played on a team with such a great offense. I'm used to pitching 1-0 ballgames, so being here and knowing that we're going to score runs if I give up a run, it's very comforting out there."
The win sends Alabama to next weekend's NCAA Super Regional, where the Tide will face the winner of Missouri and Iowa for the right to advance to the Women's College World Series. The Super Regional will be held at the Alabama softball complex and tickets to the games can be purchased through rolltide.com.