Sunday, February 19, 2006
BOCA RATON, FL—Stephanie VanBrakle was nearly perfect in the pitching circle, throwing a no-hitter as the sixth-ranked Crimson Tide (9-1) blanked the Missouri St. Bears 6-0 in the championship game of the Dunkin’ Donuts Invitational.
VanBrakle (5-0) was on her game striking out the first 13 batters she faced through 4.1 innings. Her streak ended at 13 in the bottom of the fifth when she hit the second batter she faced in the inning. VanBrakle finished the game tying the school record with 18 strikeouts while also allowing no hits. It was the third no hitter of her career, the eighth in school history and the second this season.
“I didn’t know if she had it in her this early in the season to pitch three days in a row so effectively,” said head coach Patrick Murphy. “I guess she answered that question.”
After managing only five base runners in Alabama’s loss to Missouri State earlier in the tournament, the Tide put runners on second and third base in each of the first three innings but was unable to plate a run in either frame.
The Crimson Tide offense finally broke through in the top of the fourth beginning with Miami native, Kelley Montalvo, who hit her first collegiate home run, a lead-off shot over the center field fence. Ashley Holcombe reached on an error and was pinch run for by Michelle Menningmann who came around to score on a triple by Mandy Burford putting the Tide up 2-0. Jordan Praytor came up later in the inning and hit a chopper to the right side scoring Burford extending the Alabama lead to 3-0.
Allison Moore made it a 6-0 affair when she hit a three-run, pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning. It was her second homer of the season.
Montalvo and Moore provided the big hits for Alabama, but Holcombe finished the day going 2-4 with a run scored and Dominique Accetturo closed out the day with a 2-2 effort including a triple, single, a walk and a sacrifice.
“We left a lot on base early on and it took big hits from the freshmen to get us going, but after Monty’s home run everybody seemed to relax,” said Murphy.
The Tide bounced back nicely after suffering its first loss of the season to the same Missouri State team the day before.
“This is a very good team,” said Murphy. “I hope they win a bunch of games and I think they’ll contend for the title in the Missouri Valley Conference.”
Alabama hits the road for its first mid-week game of the season on Wednesday when the team heads to Hattiesburg, Mississippi for a single game against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.
Vs. Missouri State
--The Alabama pitching staff recorded at least two strikeouts in the first inning of every game in the Dunkin’ Donuts Invitational.
--VanBrakle’s 13-straight strikeout performance was a school record.
--Allison Moore’s pinch-hit home run in the sixth inning was the first pinch-hit home run for a Bama player since Mandy Burford hit a pinch-hit home run against Kentucky on March 21, 2004.
--VanBrakle’s 18 strikeouts were the most by a Bama pitcher in a seven inning game.
--The no-hitter was the eight in school history and the third in VanBrakle’s career.