FAYETTEVILLE, ARIt’s been 10 years in the making for the Alabama softball team but they finally achieved their goal of an SEC Championship, sweeping a doubleheader with the Arkansas Lady Razorbacks 7-2 and 7-0.
Crimson Tide softball has made great strides in its brief 10-year history. The program has been to three College World Series and won three SEC Tournament Championships but for the first time in school history, the program can add an SEC regular season championship to its resume.
“It’s a great achievement in the 10th anniversary year, especially since we had close to 30 people back for a reunion a couple weeks ago. The championship means a lot to them as well and they’re going to share in every bit of this,” said head coach Patrick Murphy.
The fourth-ranked Tide (47-8, 24-4) spotted the Lady Razorbacks (26-33, 10-18) a 2-0 lead in the first inning of Game 1 but then responded with seven unanswered runs.
Trailing 2-0, Alabama evened it at 2-2 in the top of the third inning, mounting yet another two-out rally as they have all season. Mandy Burford led off with a walk and advanced to third on a one-out single off the bat of Jordan Praytor who took second on the throw to third in an attempt to get Burford. After a Staci Ramsey foul out, Dani Woods lined a single back up the middle scoring both runners and tying the game at 2-2.
Alabama claimed the lead in the top of the fourth inning on a three-run home run by Burford, her third of the season. Kelley Montalvo led off the inning being hit by a pitch and was sacrificed to second by Dominique Accetturo. Ashley Holcombe singled through the left side followed by Burford’s heroics. The Tide wasn’t finished however as Brittany Rogers was hit by a pitch and took second on a two-out single by Ramsey. Woods singled to left field scoring Rogers and Alabama had a 6-2 lead.
Accetturo gave Bama a little more cushion when she hit her fourth home run of the season, and second in as many games, a solo shot over the centerfield fence pushing the Tide lead to the final 7-2 margin.
VanBrakle (25-4) collected the win allowing two runs on five hits in seven innings while striking out nine batters.
Woods and Holcombe paced the Tide offense in the first game. Woods finished the day 2-4 with three RBI while Holcombe was also 2-4.
“It was a little rough in the first inning but Dani Woods got us started with the big hit and Mandy Burford had a big at-bat with the three-run home run,” said Murphy. “I was proud of the way the team battled back.”
The Crimson Tide didn’t waste any time in the nightcap, batting around in the top of the first, recording a 24-minute inning at-bat, en route to a 6-0 Alabama lead. Bama sent 12 batters to the plate, scoring six of them. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double by Woods and a two-run single from Katie Johnson.
Alabama added an additional run in the top of the second on a two-out, run-scoring double by Ashley Holcombe that bounced off the top of the padding, missing a home run by inches. Woods scored on the play extending Alabama’s lead to 7-0.
Alabama starter Chrissy Owens (18-4) threw five perfect innings, striking out five batters en route to the win. Blair Potter pitched the final two innings in relief helping to preserve the shutout.
“We were hoping we’d come out and set the tone early in the first inning of the second game and the team did exactly what we wanted them to,” said Murphy.
Alabama will go for the series sweep on Saturday with a single game scheduled for 1:00 p.m. CT. It will be the final regular season game for both teams. Fans can follow all the action at www.rolltide.com where live stats and audio will be available. In the Tuscaloosa area, fans can tune into WVUA 90.7 FM where Nic Hoch will call all the balls and strikes.
--Arkansas scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning marking the most runs they’ve scored in a game against Alabama since dropping a 4-2 game against the Tide on March 6, 2004.
--Mandy Burford’s home run was her first since she hit a solo home run against South Carolina on March 11.
--Brittany Rogers’ two HBPs tied the school record for being hit by a pitch in a game. It tied 15 other batters.
--Alabama’s nine hits were the most since they recorded 10 against the Auburn Tigers on April 25.
--Accetturo moved to seventh on UA’s all-time games started list with her 256th.
--Accetturo moved to 10th on UA’s all-time total bases list with her 302nd.
--Katie Johnson recorded her first hit since single at Ole Miss on April 9.
--Johnson posted her career high sixth RBI of the season.
--Staci Ramsey recorded her 500th career assist.
--Alabama won its first ever SEC regular season championship.