No. 2 Softball Heads to the SEC/ACC/Big XII Challenge



Feb. 16, 2012

Games 5-8 | No. 2/2 Alabama (4-0, 0-0 SEC) at SEC/ACC/Big XII Challenge

Friday, Feb. 17 5:30 p.m. CT | #23/20 Georgia Tech
Saturday, Feb. 18 10 a.m. CT | Virginia Tech
Saturday, Feb. 18 12:30 p.m. CT | #4/4 Oklahoma
Sunday, Feb. 19 9 a.m. CT | #15/18 Oklahoma State

Location Auburn, Ala. | Jane B. Moore Field (1,500)
Tickets Free Admission
Television None
Radio Friday | Saturday | Sunday | WVUA 90.7 FM | Chad Haynie
Live Stats GameTracker (Gm 1) | GameTracker (Gm 2) | GameTracker (Gm 3) | GameTracker (Gm 4)
Game Notes Alabama Notes Get Acrobat Reader | SEC Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Tourney Record First Appearance

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The No. 2 ranked Alabama softball team returns to the diamond this weekend with four games in three days as part of the SEC/ACC/BIG XII Challenge in Auburn, Ala. The Crimson Tide will open tournament play on Friday evening against No. 23 Georgia Tech of the ACC at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the Tide will play two games, opening with ACC foe Virginia Tech at 10 a.m., and finishing the day against 2011 WCWS participant and fourth ranked Oklahoma of the Big XII at 12:30 p.m. Alabama will conclude tournament play on Sunday against another ranked Big XII foe and 2011 WCWS participant, No. 15 Oklahoma State at 9 a.m.

Alabama opened the 2012 season in blistering fashion, winning the Mardi Gras Invitation in Mobile, Ala. this past weekend with a 4-0 record. Facing off against four teams that won 30 games in 2011 as well as two NCAA tournament berths, the Tide outscored their four opponents 38-5 while winning via run rule in three games. On Friday, UA opened the tournament with an 8-0 victory over Memphis in five innings as sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina pitched a one hitter. Alabama swept their doubleheader on Saturday, defeating Lipscomb 15-4 in six innings in Game 1 and run ruling host South Alabama 12-1 in five innings in Game 2. Junior Jackey Branham went 5-for-6 on the day with four runs batted in and four runs scored. Freshman Leslie Jury earned her first career victory in the Lipscomb game while Traina earned her second victory of the season in Game 2. In Sunday’s finale, the Tide defeated Jacksonville State 3-0 behind Traina’s career high 15 strikeouts. For the weekend, the Tide batted .394 and hit eight home runs while holding their opponents to a .134 average at the plate.

Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina went 3-0 this past weekend with an unblemished 0.00 ERA. Traina threw 30 strikeouts and allowed just four hits in her three games, pitching two one-hitters. Senior Amanda Locke was a force at the plate as the Tide’s clean-up hitter.  The utility player led the team with a .636 batting average (7-for-11) with a team high seven hits and seven RBI. She also scored twice and hit two home runs on the weekend. Sophomore Kaila Hunt led the team with three home runs in the tournament, adding five RBI as well.

No. 23 ranked Georgia Tech enters the weekend with a 4-1 record after opening the 2012 season in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. In their second game of the tournament, Georgia Tech upset eighth ranked Arizona, 2-1, behind a complete game five-hitter by sophomore pitcher Hope Rush, who enters this weekend with a 1-1 record and two complete games. Georgia Tech is led at the plate by sophomore C/3B Alysha Rudnik, who is batting .571 (8-for-14) with four runs batted in. Senior shortstop Kelsi Weseman leads the Yellow Jackets with two home runs and three runs batted in. Sophomore Lindsey Anderson picked up three wins in the tournament, going 3-0 with a 4.80 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 15 innings of work. Georgia Tech finished the 2011 season 45-12, losing in the Tennessee Regional in the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets are coached by Sharon Perkins, who is entering her sixth season at the helm and has posted a 232-86 record.

The Hokies of Virginia Tech opened their 2012 season at the Opening Weekend Tournament hosted by Jacksonville University, and put on quite a performance. The Hokies enter this weekend with a perfect 5-0 record, outscoring their opponents 43-10 on the weekend, with two run-rule victories. Hokie pitchers threw three complete games and had a combined 1.97 ERA. Courtney Liddle leads the Hokies with a .706 (12-for-17) batting average with two home runs, three doubles and 10 runs batted in. Bailey Liddle and Jasmin Harrell are both 2-0 in the circle this season.  The Hokies finished the 2011 season 37-20, losing in the first round of the ACC Tournament. Virginia Tech is led by Scot Thomas, who is in his 17th season in Blacksburg. He has posted a 578-388 record.

The Oklahoma Sooners enter this weekend ranked No. 4 with an unblemished 5-0 record at the Sportco Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas, Nev. The Sooners gave up just three runs in five games, posting three shutouts. The Sooners also put up 40 runs on the weekend, hitting six home runs, including three by freshman Lauren Chamberlain, who also had eight runs batted in. Junior catcher Jessica Shults leads OU with a .611 (11-for-18) batting average. Junior pitcher Keilani Ricketts set the Oklahoma career strikeout record in the season’s second game, a 5-0 victory over UNLV, with her 814th. Ricketts finished the weekend with three victories and a 0.45 ERA and 36 strikeouts. The Sooners were a WCWS participant last season, finishing with a 43-19 record and seventh in the final polls. They return 12 lettermen and all four pitchers from last season. They are led by Coach Patty Gasso, who is in her 21st as a head coach, with the past 17 at OU. She has an 817-269-2 record as the leader of the Sooners, leading them to their only national title in 2000.

The 15th ranked Oklahoma State Cowgirls traveled to Houston this past weekend for the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic, finishing the tournament with a 4-1 record, with the lone blemish coming to No. 17 Houston. For the weekend, the Cowgirls outscored their opponents 17-4, with three of their four wins coming in shutouts. OSU hit just one home run this weekend, but it had six different starters knock in runs. The Cowgirls are led by junior utility player Tamara Brown, who hit .533 (8-for-15) with five runs batted in and three runs scored. Freshman catcher Taylor Woodall hit the home run for the Cowgirls. In the circle, OSU is paced by sophomore right-hander Simone Freeman, who went 2-0 on the weekend with a perfect 0.00 ERA and 24 strikeouts in her two complete games. Oklahoma State is led by Rich Wieligman, who in his sixth season as head coach has led the Cowgirls to three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and a berth in the 2011 WCWS. OSU went 40-22 last season, and Wieligman is 175-119 in his six years in Stillwater.

Georgia Tech: This will be the 16th meeting between the two schools, and the first since a 13-1 victory over the seventh ranked Yellow Jackets in five innings for the Tide in 2010. Amanda Locke went 2-for-2 with a three-run home run and three runs batted in, while pitcher Kelsi Dunne pitched a two-hitter. The Tide leads the series 12-3.

Virginia Tech: The Tide won the teams’ only previous meeting, 1-0 in eight innings back in 2000. Jennifer Reach had an RBI single to knock in Kim Rohret in the top of the eighth for the game’s only run.

Oklahoma: This will be the seventh meeting between the two schools, with Tide holding a 4-2 series lead. The teams haven’t played since February 2009, when the Tide knocked off No. 8 OU with a walk off double by Kelly Montalvo to give Alabama a 4-3 victory at the Cathedral Classic.

Oklahoma State: This will be the fourth time that Alabama has played the Cowgirls, with the Tide holding a perfect 3-0 lead in the series. The two teams haven’t faced off since 2007, when Alabama crushed OSU, 11-1, in five innings to win the Century-Tel Championship. Mandy Burford hit two home runs in the game for Alabama and knocked in five runs.

As a team, Alabama is leading the conference with a .394 (39-for-99) batting average. They are tied for first in home runs and doubles with eight and 10, respectively. Alabama has scored the second most runs in the league with 38. They are also second with 11 stolen bases. As a pitching staff, the Tide is third with a 1.22 ERA. They have given up the least amount of hits on the year with just 11, and have had to throw the fewest innings in the league (23).

Individually, senior Amanda Locke is second with a .636 (7-for-11) batting average, and Jacky Branham is fourth with a .556 (5-for-9) batting average. Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina is tied for first with a 0.00 ERA, and is second with three wins. She is second in the SEC with 30 strikeouts. Sophomore infielder Kaila Hunt is tied for first with three home runs. Senior Jennifer Fenton is a perfect 5-for-5 in stolen bases, good for second in the conference.

Alabama senior Amanda Locke (Mesquite, Texas) was named the Southeastern Conference Softball Player of the Week, the league office announced Monday. It is the second career selection for the Mesquite, Texas native. Locke supplied the punch in the lineup and led the team over the weekend at the Mardi Gras Invitational to a 4-0 start. Against four teams that each sported over 30 wins and two that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament a year ago, Locke batted a team-best .636 (7-for-11) while also leading the team with seven hits and seven RBI. She chipped in two runs, two home runs, a double and slugged 1.273. Locke recorded a hit in all four games and tallied multiple hits in two games. Locke drove in two or more runs in three of the four games. She opened the season with a 3-for-3 effort, including a home run and two RBI against Memphis. She then drove in two more against Lipscomb and hit her second home run and drove in three against South Alabama.

Alabama senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) was named one of 30 candidates for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as an NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence - community, classroom, character and competition. An acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®, the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award focuses on the total student-athlete and encourages students to use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as leaders in their communities.

Alabama enters the season with one of the most experienced squads in the country. The Crimson Tide boasts six seniors that have combined to find time in 936 games and start 727 times. Five of the six seniors have started more than 100 games in their careers. Cassie Reilly-Boccia leads the senior class with 193 games played and 182 starts.





Cassie Reilly-Boccia



Jennifer Fenton



Jazlyn Lunceford



Amanda Locke



Kendall Dawson



Olivia Gibson



Alabama will be tested all season long as it enters the 2012 season with a schedule that features nine teams that are ranked in the preseason polls and 20 teams that made the postseason in 2011, including three whom made trips to the Women’s College World Series. Alabama will need to start fast as its first 12 opponents all won more than 30 games a year ago.

Alabama junior outfielder Kayla Braud and sophomore utility player Jackie Traina have been selected for the “Watch List” for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award by Amateur Softball Association of America.

The Alabama softball team garnered four selections as the Southeastern Conference unveiled its fifth annual Preseason All-SEC team. Those selected to the team were seniors Cassie Reilly-Boccia and Amanda Locke, junior Kayla Braud and sophomore Jackie Traina.

The Alabama softball team is predicted to win the Southeastern Conference Western Division, as voted upon by the conference coaches, the league office announced. Florida was selected to win the conference with six first place votes while Tennessee was close behind with five first place votes.

Alabama will play one more game before it heads to Tuscaloosa for its home opener. Alabama will face UAB on Tuesday, Feb. 21, with first pitch slated for 6 p.m., in Birmingham. UA will then host the Easton Bama Bash, presented by Drash on the upcoming weekend.