Softball Set to Host Stanford in Super Regional Play

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Amanda Locke looks to power the Tide to Oklahoma City.
Amanda Locke looks to power the Tide to Oklahoma City.

May 25, 2011


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama softball team (49-8) will continue its quest for the Women’s College World Series by hosting the Stanford Cardinal (41-15) in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Super Regional. The winner of the best of three series will advance to the eight-team field in Oklahoma City next week. The first game of the series is set for Thursday, May 26, at 7 p.m. CDT, inside the friendly confines of Rhoads Stadium. The series opener will be nationally televised by ESPN with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza on the call.

The Crimson Tide played its first contest in Tuscaloosa since April 17 over the weekend and made quick work of its competition in the Tuscaloosa Regional. The Tide opened up what turned into one of the most dominant regional performances in this year’s tournament with an 8-0 run-rule victory over SWAC champion Jackson State. Freshman pitcher Jackie Traina picked up her first collegiate no-hitter in the contest and the only blemish on an otherwise perfect game was an infield error. Seniors Whitney Larsen and Kelsi Dunne took control of Saturday’s winner’s bracket game over Memphis. Larsen drove in five of the Crimson Tide’s seven runs and Dunne added 12 strikeouts to give Alabama the 7-1 victory. In the regional championship game Alabama showed its power both at the plate and in the circle. Dunne carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, while her teammates had already given her a seven-run lead. The Tide wrapped up its seventh straight regional championship with an 11-2 victory over Chattanooga.

Senior shortstop Whitney Larsen has gotten the Tide rolling at the plate and has been on fire in the batter’s box. Larsen is hitting at a .625 clip in postseason play (SEC Tournament and NCAA Regional), with a slugging percentage of 1.125 and an on-base percentage of .667. In her 16 postseason at bats the Vestavia Hills native has 10 hits, including three doubles, a triple and a home run, with 13 runs batted in. Larsen has yet to strike out in postseason play. Helping the senior’s cause, the Crimson Tide’s table setters in Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton both have postseason batting averages over .430 and on-base percentages at or over .500 with 11 stolen bases between the two.

The Cardinal are led at the plate by a trio of All-Pacific 10 Conference selections, typically their 1-2-3 hitters in Ashley Hansen, Sarah Hassman and Jenna Rich. Hansen led the star-studded PAC-10 in batting average (.500), slugging percentage (.815) and on-base percentage (.562). The junior from Chandler, Ariz., had a conference-best 25 doubles and 150 total bases, while adding in three triples and 45 RBI to her 2011 resume. Hassman had an impressive season as well, leading the PAC-10 in stolen bases with 34 in just 37 attempts. The junior from Cupertino, Calif., hit a .395 clip and sported a .498 on-base percentage. Rich, a sophomore from El Segundo, Calif., led Stanford in home runs with 10 and runs batted in with 49 this season. As a team the Cardinal is hitting .305 with 45 home runs and 263 RBI. They have outscored their opponents 290-129 this season. In the circle, Stanford sports a 1.83 ERA while holding opponents to a .211 average.

In the circle Stanford sports two solid pitchers, with sophomore Teagan Gerhart leading the way. Gerhart, the sister of Cardinal football great Toby Gerhart, enters the Tuscaloosa Super Regional with a 1.68 earned run average and a 25-11 record in 44 appearances. The Norco, Calif., native has 236 strikeouts in just over 241 innings pitched. Senior Ashley Chinn has provided solid innings for the Cardinal this season as well with a 2.02 ERA and a 16-4 record in 24 appearances. Gerhart and Chinn rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the PAC-10 this season in earned run average.

Alabama and Stanford have met five times on the diamond with the Crimson Tide holding a 3-2 advantage in the all-time series. The last time the two teams met was in the 2006 Tuscaloosa Super Regional, the first year Alabama hosted under the then-new super regional format. The Tide took the best of three series in two games (UA 4-1, 8-7 (8)). In both contests Alabama jumped out to an early lead with a 3-0 advantage after three innings in game one and scoring seven runs in the top of the first in game two. The Cardinal would come back to tie in game two and it would be Alabama great Jordan Praytor coming through with a two-out RBI single to center, scoring Mandy Burford in the top of the eighth to send the Crimson Tide to its fourth Women’s College World Series. The two teams met twice in 2004 at the Stanford Spring Classic, splitting the two games. The Cardinal won the first contest 4-1, while the Tide were victorious in the second meeting by a score of 2-1 in eight innings. The first meeting between the two softball powers came in just Alabama’s fourth year as a program, in the 2000 NFCA Leadoff Classic, a contest Stanford won 5-2.

The Crimson Tide earned its 13th consecutive NCAA tournament bid in 2011. In just 15 years of existence, the Alabama softball program played in its 13th NCAA Regional this past weekend. The Tide has advanced to an NCAA Regional in every season under head coach Patrick Murphy. The Crimson Tide have a 44-13 record in NCAA Regional action (including regional (35-9) and super regional (9-4)) and have won nine NCAA Regional titles (2000, `03, `05, `06, `07, '08, '09, `10 & ‘11), including seven in a row. It is the seventh consecutive year Alabama has been selected to host an NCAA Regional. The Tide is 28-3 in regional games played at Rhoads Stadium, including a winning streak of 16 games (not including super regional play).

Alabama will be making its seventh straight NCAA Super Regional appearance this weekend. The Crimson Tide sports a 9-4 record in those games and have won four super regional series (’05, ’06, ’08 & ’09). The super regional in Tuscaloosa will mark the fifth time Alabama has hosted the series. The Tide holds a 7-3 mark at home with the only series loss at Rhoads Stadium coming last season against Hawai'i. Alabama has super regional history with Stanford as the two paired up in the 2006 Tuscaloosa Super Regional, where the Tide earned the series win by the scores of 4-1 and 8-7 (8). Individually Kayla Braud is batting .500 (5-for-10) with three runs and two stolen bases in one super regional appearance. Jennifer Fenton follows with a .444 (4-for-9) mark in two trips with three runs and a RBI. Whitney Larsen sports a .294 (5-for-17) mark with five runs, a home run and six RBI while Amanda Locke has smacked two home runs and driven in eight runs. In the circle, Kelsi Dunne is 4-2 with a 1.58 ERA. She has struck out 44 in 31 innings and has tossed two no-hitters (Jacksonville State, May 22 & 23, 2009).

Alabama senior Whitney Larsen will not end her career without a fight as she has led the team during the postseason. In the five games this season (SEC Tournament and NCAA Regional) the senior is batting .625 (10-for-16) with six runs, three doubles, a triple, a home run and 13 RBI. She is slugging 1.125 and sports a .667 on-base percentage. In the NCAA Regional, the Vestavia Hills native batted .700 (7-for-10) with four runs, a double, triple and nine RBI.

On the season the Alabama pitching staff has tallied five no-hitters. Senior Kelsi Dunne has accounted for three of the tallies while freshman Jackie Traina has one to her credit. The duo has also combined for one as well. The five no-hitters in a single season equaled the most in school history as Dunne accounted for four of the five in 2009. Dunne tossed a no-hitter in her first appearance of the season, striking out 11 in seven innings against Jacksonville State (Feb. 12). She threw her second of the campaign against South Carolina (April 3), striking out 10 in seven innings. The duo combined for a no-hitter in a loss against LSU (April 10). Dunne then struck out nine in five innings at Mississippi (May 6) before Traina tossed her first career no-hitter this past weekend against Jackson State with a five-inning, nine strikeout performance. Dunne has nine career no-hitters to her credit.

The Alabama softball team earned its third Southeastern Conference regular season title by sweeping Mississippi in the final regular season series to finish with a 19-6 ledger in league play. The regular season title is the third in program history for Alabama as it finished first last season with a 23-4 record and in 2006 with a 25-4 conference mark.

Alabama senior Kelsi Dunne (Port Orange, Fla.) and sophomore Kayla Braud (Eugene, Ore.) were named Top 10 Finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, as announced by the organization. The award, which is considered the most prestigious honor in Division I women's collegiate softball, is designed to recognize outstanding athletic achievement by female collegiate softball players across the country.

The Alabama softball team garnered six Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I All-Region selections, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association announced Thursday. The Crimson Tide had five named to the first team and one to the second team in the South Region. Alabama seniors Kelsi Dunne (Port Orange, Fla.) and Whitney Larsen (Vestavia Hills, Ala.) earned first team honors and were joined by junior Amanda Locke (Mesquite, Texas), sophomore Kayla Braud (Eugene, Ore.) and freshman Jackie Traina (Naples, Fla.). Junior Jennifer Fenton (Kennesaw, Ga.) was named to the second team.

Alabama had five players earn all-conference honors, the league announced before the SEC tournament. Senior Kelsi Dunne was named the SEC Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season and was also named to the first-team and all-defensive team. Joining Dunne on the All-SEC first-team was senior Whitney Larsen, who also earned all-defensive team honors and sophomore Kayla Braud. Junior Amanda Locke earned second-team honors while newcomer Kaila Hunt was named to the all-freshman team.

The Crimson Tide has played 31 games against teams that made or are in the field of 64 in 2011. Against those teams Alabama is 23-8. The Tide is 13-0 at Rhoads Stadium against tournament teams. The Tide is hitting .267 with 39 home runs and 166 RBI in those games and has outscored its opponents 188-70. Alabama is pitching at a 1.71 clip while holding the opposition to just a .179 average. Kayla Braud leads the team with a .391 average and has added 43 hits, 30 runs, two home runs, 11 RBI and 25 stolen bases. Jackie Traina has provided the punch with 10 home runs and 27 RBI while Whitney Larsen bats .315 with four homers and 27 RBI. In the circle, Kelsi Dunne is 14-3 with a 1.42 ERA. She has struck out 171 in 118.2 innings.

Alabama has taken advantage of playing in front of its home crowd as it sports a perfect 23-0 record in 2011. The 23 straight wins is the second longest streak in the country as Texas A&M has won 27. At home, Alabama has outscored its opponents 203-50, hit at a .358 average, smacked 46 home runs and driven in 181 runs. In the circle, UA boasts a 2.00 ERA and has held opponents to a .186 batting average. Whitney Larsen leads the charge at home with a .433 average, adding seven home runs and 32 RBI. Kayla Braud follows with a .431 average, scoring 30 runs with two homers, nine RBI and 15 stolen bases. In the circle, Kelsi Dunne is 14-0 with a 1.33 ERA. She has struck out 129 in 78.2 innings and held opponents to a .147 batting average.

Alabama continues to stay hot at the plate during their 2011 campaign. The Crimson Tide is amongst the leaders in the Southeastern Conference in numerous statistical categories. Offensively, the Tide leads the circuit in stolen bases (144).The Tide comes in second in runs scored (419) and third in home runs (87) slugging percentage (.557), runs batted in (377) and on-base percentage (.427). In the circle, the Tide leads the circuit in ERA (1.36), opposing batting average (.166), strikeouts (503), hits allowed (217) and runs allowed (96). (As of May 23)

Numerous Alabama individuals currently pace the league in several categories. Kayla Braud leads the SEC in stolen bases (55) and runs scored (68). Braud ranks second in batting average (.437) and on-base percentage (.523) and third in hits (80). Jackie Traina comes in at sixth in slugging percentage (.707) and 11th in home runs (13). Whitney Larsen checks in at sixth in RBI (60). In the circle, Kelsi Dunne is first in batters struck out (292) and opposing batting average (.132). Dunne is second in ERA (1.14) and in wins (26). (As of May 23)

As a team Alabama ranks in the top 10 in the country in six categories. The Tide ranks second in stolen bases per game (2.53) and third in home runs per game (1.53). Alabama checks in ranked fourth in slugging percentage (.557), win-loss percentage (.860), scoring (7.35/gm) and in ERA (1.36). Individually Kayla Braud leads the nation with 55 stolen bases and is third in stolen bases per game (0.96). Braud also ranks fourth with 1.19 runs per game. Kelsi Dunne ranks second in hits allowed per seven innings (3.13), ninth in strikeouts per seven innings (10.4) and 10th in ERA (1.14). (As of May 22)