No. 1 Softball Remains at Home to Host the Easton Alabama Challenge



March 22, 2012

Games 28-31 | No. 1 Alabama (26-1) | Easton Alabama Challenge

Friday, March 23 | 6 p.m. | DePaul
Saturday, March 24 | 1:30 p.m. | DePaul
Saturday, March 24 | 4 p.m. | Longwood
Sunday, March 25 | 12:30 p.m. | Longwood

Location Tuscaloosa, Ala. | Rhoads Stadium (3,950)
Tickets General Admission | $5
Television Sunday | WVUA-TV | Chad Haynie
Radio Stream | WVUA 90.7 FM | Chad Haynie & Paden Lapwing
Live Stats GameTracker (Gm 1) | GameTracker (Gm 2) | GameTracker (Gm 3)
GameTracker (Gm 4)
Game Notes Alabama Notes Get Acrobat ReaderSEC Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Video Stream TideTV
Series Record 6-2 Against DePaul | 0-0 Against Longwood
Promotions Schedule | Amanda Locke Day

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The top-ranked Alabama softball team (26-1) looks to bounce back from its first loss of the season as it takes a break from conference play to host No. 25 DePaul (15-7) and Longwood (20-9) in the Easton Alabama Challenge this weekend at Rhoads Stadium. The Tide opens play against DePaul on Friday, March 23, at 6 p.m. UA continues play on Saturday with a second game against DePaul at 1:30 p.m., and follows that up with a game against Longwood at 4 p.m. Alabama finishes tournament play on Sunday against Longwood at 12:30 p.m.

Alabama put its perfect start on the line as it welcomed rival Tennessee to Rhoads Stadium Wednesday night for a conference doubleheader. Alabama won in dramatic fashion in the first game and dropped its first contest of the season in the nightcap. The Tide won an 11-inning, 3-2, thriller and then fell, 5-2, to move to 26-1 overall and 7-1 in Southeastern Conference play. In game one, sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina threw 195 pitches, striking out 15 Lady Vols in the process, and then crushed a two-out, walk-off solo home run to propel the Tide to its 26th consecutive victory to open the season. In the nightcap, Tennessee used a complete game effort from their sophomore ace Ellen Renfroe to hand the Tide their first loss of the year. After giving up a three-run home run in the second inning, UA tried to mount a comeback as Kaila Hunt hit a two-run homer to cut the lead to one. It was Hunt's team leading ninth homer of the year. Alabama could not keep the rally going, collecting a season-low three hits as they watched the Vols pull away in the later innings.

Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina has helped the Tide out in the circle and at the plate, especially in her past six games, with five coming against SEC foes. Traina batted .333 (5-for-15) with three home runs and eight runs batted in those six games, with four of the five hits going for extra bases. In addition to her hitting prowess, Traina has been even better on the mound. In the past six games, she has made five appearances and recorded the victory in each, striking out 41 batters in 32 innings of work. The pinnacle of her recent hitting and pitching may have come in the first game of the Tennessee doubleheader, when the sophomore threw almost 200 pitches in her 11 inning complete game, striking out 15 Lady Vols and hitting a walk off solo home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to earn her SEC-leading 16th victory, including her second victory over a ranked opponent in the past five games. Traina is a perfect 16-0 on the year and has posted a 1.03 ERA in the 2012 campaign.

The Blue Demons of DePaul enter the weekend with a 15-7 record after going 1-2 in a weather-shortened Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., this past weekend. The Blue Demons suffered a lopsided 18-1 loss in five innings to No. 7 Oklahoma in their first game, but bounced back to shutout Fresno State, 4-0, in their second game. DePaul suffered another loss to a top foe in their third game, as they were beaten, 9-1, by No. 3 Washington in five innings. Their last two games, against No. 19 Michigan and No. 13 Arizona, were canceled due to weather. The Blue Demons are closing out a season opening 29-game road trip this weekend, as they've yet to play a home game. Junior outfielder Samantha Dodd leads DePaul at the plate with a .441 (30-for-68) average. She has also hit a home run and knocked in nine runs. Sophomore pitcher/infielder Kirsten Verdun has hit .373 (25-for-67) and leads the team with four home runs and 18 runs batted in. Verdun leads the team in the circle as well, going 8-3 on the year with a 1.71 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 65 2/3 innings of work. DePaul finished last season ranked 24/25 in the polls with a 41-15 record. They are led by coach Eugene Lenti, who has posted a 1,117-534-2 in his 30 years as coach at DePaul.

Alabama and DePaul have faced off eight times, with the Tide leading the series 6-2. The two teams last faced off in 2010, when UA knocked off the Blue Demons 6-4, when Lauren Sewell came on with two outs and the bases loaded in the seventh inning and proceeded to shut the door on DePaul.

The Longwood Lancers enter this weekend with a 20-9 record and a three-game winning streak after sweeping a doubleheader against James Madison on Wednesday. The Lancers took the first game against JMU, 2-1, and followed it up with a 9-0 victory in five innings in the second game. Sophomore Leta Bressin leads the way at the plate with a .480 (24-for-50) and nine stolen bases. Junior third baseman Jordan Cox leads the Lancers with eight home runs and 25 runs batted in, while freshman catcher/first baseman Megan Baltzell has hit .372 (32-for-86) with six home runs and 22 runs batted in. Freshman Libby Morris leads the team leads the team with a 9-5 record and 45 strikeouts in the circle, while junior Ashley Cornell has a 5-1 record and a 2.33 ERA. Coach Kathy Riley is in her 15th season in charge of the Lancers, and she has posted a 454-239-1 record.

This is the first meeting between the two schools.

Alabama enters the Easton Alabama Challenge this weekend with a 248-65 overall regular season tournament record. The last loss for Alabama came from Louisiana-Lafayette in the Citrus Classic on March 4, 2011. The Tide sports a strong 102-16 overall home tournament record. Alabama has not lost at home in a tournament game since March 6, 2010, when it fell to No. 7 Michigan, 4-2. Since that loss Alabama has strung together a 19 game win streak for home tournaments.

Alabama senior outfielder Jennifer Fenton (Kennesaw, Ga.) and sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina (Naples, Fla.) garnered Southeastern Conference softball weekly honors, the league office announced Monday afternoon. Fenton was named the SEC Player of the Week while Traina was named the Pitcher of the Week. The honor is a career first for Fenton while Traina nabbed the accolade in the circle for the second time. This marks the first time since Dani Woods and Stephanie VanBrakle on March 27, 2006, that two Crimson Tide players have earned both honors in the same week

Alabama has raced out to a 26-1 start and has been doing it in impressive fashion. The Tide has outscored its opponents 216-59, including a 49-7 advantage in the first inning. UA is averaging 8.00 runs per game and 8.96 hits per contest. Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton are averaging over a run per game while Amanda Lock and Kaila Hunt are driving in a run per game. In the circle Jackie Traina is averaging 9.9 strikeouts per contest.

Alabama put together one of its most successful seasons in front of the home faithful in 2011, posting a 25-1 record at Rhoads Stadium, with the only loss coming in the first game of the Super Regional against Stanford. UA has won 25 or more games at Rhoads Stadium, 11 times and 30 or more six times. The Tide finished 31-1 in 2009 and put together its most wins in 2007 with a 39-3 record. Overall Alabama has posted a 354-53 record at Rhoads Stadium and a 409-73 record in Tuscaloosa. So far this season Alabama is 14-1 at the friendly confines.

Alabama has historically gotten off to fast starts and the 2012 campaign is no different as the Tide enters the weekend with a 26-1 record. UA has started the season better than 5-0, eight times and has gotten off to at least a 10-0 start, eight times. The Tide has eclipsed the 20-win plateau three times, setting a school record with a 27-0 start in 2001. UA started 25-0 in 2007. Last year the Tide raced out to a 17-0 start. The 26 straight wins to begin the season is the second best start in school history.

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 1052 games and start 831 times. Five of the six seniors have started more than 100 games in their careers and three of the seniors have eclipsed the 200-games played mark. Cassie Reilly-Boccia leads the senior class with 216 games played and 204 starts.

Alabama senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia is rapidly climbing up the career record charts. Reilly-Boccia currently ranks second all-time in walk with 151. Kelly Kretschman holds the UA record with 161 free passes. Despite being just a junior, Kayla Braud is also ascending up the charts. Braud has swiped 123 career bases to rank third all time. Brittany Rogers holds the mark with 198 stolen bases. Senior Jennifer Fenton checks in at fourth all-time with 106 stolen bases. Senior Amanda Locke is powering her way into the home run record book as she ranks fourth all-time with 43 career home runs. Kretschman holds the record with 60 career roundtrippers. Kendall Dawson is one caught theft away from holding the Alabama record for most caught stealing by. She is tied with Lacy Prejean with 39 over her career.

As a team, Alabama leads the conference with a .342 (242-for-707) batting average. The Tide also leads the conference in runs (216), home runs (42), and stolen bases (62). They are second in hits (242). UA also claims the top spot in slugging percentage (.604), on base percentage (.457) and RBI (196).

Kayla Braud is fourth in the conference with a .425 (31-for-73) batting average. Braud leads the SEC with 20 stolen bases. Senior Jennifer Fenton is fifth in hits with 27. Sophomore Kaila Hunt is tied for first in home runs (9) and is tied for second in runs batted in (29). Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina leads the league with a perfect 16-0 record. She is fifth in ERA (1.03) and second in strikeouts (135).

The Crimson Tide will travel to Auburn on Tuesday, March 27th for a doubleheader against the Tigers. First pitch is at 4 p.m. The second game of the twin-bill will air on ESPNU.