May 30, 2012
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The number two national seeded Alabama softball team (55-7) will face off against Southeastern Conference foe and number seven national seed Tennessee (52-12) in the opening round of the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. The two teams will open up the tournament, with first pitch coming on Thursday, May 31, at 6 p.m. CT, on ESPN2. This is the second consecutive WCWS appearance for Alabama, and fourth in five years, while Tennessee is in Oklahoma City for the second time in three years.
LAST TIME OUT
The Alabama softball team hosted the NCAA Tuscaloosa Super Regional on Thursday and Friday against the University of Michigan, and won the best-of-three series in two games. On Thursday night, the Crimson Tide used a two-hit gem from Jackie Traina to knock off the Wolverines, 4-1, in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN2. Traina struck out 10 batters for the third consecutive NCAA Tournament game, and didn't allow a run until the sixth inning in guiding the Tide to victory. In Friday's game, Alabama fell behind early, 3-1, due to some costly errors, but were able to start coming back in the fifth inning thanks to Kaila Hunt's 20th home run on the year. Hunt's two-run shot tied the score, and allowed her to become just the second UA player to ever hit 20 home runs in a season. Junior Kayla Braud came through with a clutch hit of her own, with a one-out triple down the right field line that scored pinch-runner Danielle Richard from third, giving the Tide a 4-3 victory and the berth in Oklahoma City. For the two games, senior Jennifer Fenton batted .571 (4-for-7) with a double and two runs scored. Traina pitched two complete games, as she struck out 15 batters and gave up just four runs in the two games, giving her a 37-2 record heading into the WCWS, one behind Shelley Laird's school record of 38 wins in 2000.
WHO TO WATCH
Alabama has been led during the postseason by a mix of its experience and some power from underclassmen. Senior Jennifer Fenton has been on an absolute tear since the postseason began, as she leads the Tide with a .647 (11-for-17) batting average and has scored a team-high seven runs in the five NCAA postseason games. Fenton has hit three doubles and stole three bases as well. Sophomore shortstop Kaila Hunt has been a run producing machine, as she has driven in 23 runs in her past 11 games, with eight of those games coming in postseason tournament play. Hunt has hit .333 (5-for-15) with two home runs and 10 RBI in the five NCAA Tournament games, as well as two doubles and has scored four times.
The Lady Vols of Tennessee enter the Women's College World Series with a 52-12 record after winning two out-of three games in the NCAA Super Regionals over Georgia on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday afternoon, the Lady Vols knocked off the Bulldogs, 3-2, holding on after giving up two runs in the top of the sixth inning. In game two on Sunday afternoon, Tennessee could manage just two hits as they fell, 1-0, to force the `if necessary' game, also on Sunday afternoon. Tennessee scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning to prevail, 2-1, and advance to their fifth Women's College World Series. The Lady Vols are led by junior third baseman Raven Chavanne, who is batting .433 (78-for-180) with 32 stolen bases. Junior infielder Lauren Gibson leads the UT with 13 home runs, while sophomore Madison Shipman leads Tennessee with 63 runs batted in. In the circle, the Volunteers are led by sisters Ivy and Ellen Renfroe. Sophomore Ellen Renfroe is 27-4 on the year, with 276 strikeouts in 225 2/3 innings of work and a 1.18 ERA. Junior Ivy Renfroe has gone 25-8 with 194 strikeouts in 206 2/3 innings pitched and a 1.73 ERA. Tennessee is led by co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly, who have gone 566-174-2 in 12 seasons in Knoxville.
Tennessee: Alabama has faced off against Tennessee 47 times and holds a 31-16 advantage over the Lady Vols. Jackie Traina threw 195 pitches and hit a walk-off solo home run, as Alabama knocked off the UT, 3-2, in 11 innings on March 21. In the second game, Tennessee was able to hold Alabama to just three hits, including a Kaila Hunt two-run home run, to deal Alabama its first loss of the season, 5-2. Alabama and Tennessee went head-to-head at the 2005 WCWS, when Tennessee defeated Alabama, 4-0.
ALABAMA IN THE WOMEN'S COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
Alabama will be making its eighth trip (2000, '03, '05-'06, '08-'09, '11 & '12) to Oklahoma City for the Women's College World Series, the most of any team in the Southeastern Conference. The Crimson Tide sports an 8-14 record at the WCWS, reaching the semifinal round in its last three appearances (2008-09 & 2011). The Crimson Tide has 15 players on the roster that have been to the WCWS with eight finding significant playing time. As a freshman, pitcher Jackie Traina earned two saves in the first two wins of the WCWS last season. Junior Kayla Braud is batting a team-high .364 (4-for-11) in WCWS play. Senior Jennifer Fenton follows with a .333 (6-for-18) average. Five Tide players have tallied 10 or more at-bats in Oklahoma City. Senior Jazlyn Lunceford hit one of the greatest home runs in Alabama history as she smacked a pinch-hit grand slam in the fourth inning against Arizona State on May 30, 2009, to give the Tide a 6-2 win. That win came on the heels of a 14-0 drubbing of Arizona, handing the Wildcats their worst loss in WCWS history.
HOW THE TIDE STACKS UP AGAINST THE WCWS FIELD
Alabama has played six games against teams that made the 2012 Women's College World Series. UA is 4-2 against the three different teams, defeating Oregon, 5-1, (March 13), splitting with Tennessee (W, 3-2, L, 5-3; March 21) and winning a three game series against LSU (W, 6-0, L, 3-2, W, 6-0; April 6-8). Alabama has outscored the field, 24-11 but has only hit at a .184 clip with six home runs and 21 RBI. The pitching has been stellar with a team ERA of 1.22. Jackie Traina is 4-0 with a 0.21 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 33 innings. Jennifer Fenton hit .313 (5-for-16) with four runs, a double, home run, three RBI and three stolen bases.
ALABAMA VERSUS 2012 NCAA TOURNAMENT TEAMS
Alabama has faced off against 19 teams in the NCAA Tournament and has posted a 38-5 record, winning eight series against the Southeastern Conference schools that made the tournament (out of nine). Kaila Hunt is batting .333 (41-for-123) with 13 home runs and 52 runs batted in in 41 games against tournament-bound foes. Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton have combined to steal 52 bases against those teams. Jackie Traina is 29-2 with 258 strikeouts and a 1.72 ERA against NCAA Tournament teams. Alabama, as a team, has hit 58 home runs and driven in 251 runs against tournament-bound teams, while their pitchers have thrown 328 strikeouts and had a 1.95 ERA against the 19 teams. UA has outscored NCAA tournament opposition, 271-108.
ALABAMA IN NCAA TOURNAMENT PLAY
The Crimson Tide earned its 14th consecutive NCAA tournament bid in 2012. In just 16 years of existence, the Alabama softball program played in its 14th NCAA Regional and in its eighth Super Regional. The Tide has advanced to an NCAA Regional in every season under head coach Patrick Murphy. The Crimson Tide have a 59-28 record in NCAA tournament action (including regional (38-9), super regional (13-5) and World Series (8-14)) and have won 10 NCAA Regional titles (2000, `03, `05, `06, `07, `08, `09, `10, `11 & `12 ), including eight in a row and six Super Regional titles (2005, '06, '08, '09,'11, & `12). This was the eighth consecutive year Alabama has been selected to host an NCAA Regional.
SEC ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Alabama put four players onto the 2012 SEC Tournament All-Tournament team. Senior Jennifer Fenton, junior Kayla Braud, and sophomores Kaila Hunt and Jackie Traina were all named to the team, while Traina was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. Fenton, Hunt, and Braud combined to bat .470 (12-for-25) with five stolen bases, 10 runs scored and seven runs batted in. Traina went 2-0 in the tournament with a 2.00 ERA and had 13 strikeouts in 14 innings of work.
GOT THAT THREE-PEAT
With the series win over Florida on May 4-6, Alabama became just the second team in SEC history to ever win three consecutive SEC titles. LSU won four straight titles from 1999-2002 and five titles overall. Alabama has won four titles, including the past three.
SEC TOURNAMENT CHAMPS
The Alabama softball team hosted the Southeastern Conference Tournament and swept three games to become the first host team to win the tournament. It was Alabama's fifth tournament title and marked the second time that the Crimson Tide had won the regular season and tournament title in the same year. Alabama previously accomplished the feat in 2010. Alabama opened the tournament with a 5-2 win over Mississippi State in front of a national television audience on ESPN. It was the 13th consecutive SEC Tournament opening win for Alabama and the 27th straight time Alabama has beaten MSU. The Crimson Tide followed up with a 1-0 shutout win over Georgia in the semifinals, behind a complete game from sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina. UA then beat Florida soundly, 10-1, in five innings, to win the tournament title. Jennifer Fenton paced Alabama at the plate, hitting .625 (5-for-8) with four runs and four stolen bases. Kaila Hunt batted .500 (4-for-8) and drove in seven runs on the weekend. In the circle, Traina went 2-0 and gave up just two earned runs, while Amanda Locke got the win in the title game and had a perfect 0.00 ERA.
SEC WESTERN DIVISION CHAMPIONS
Alabama clinched its fifth straight SEC Western Division title going into the final weekend of the regular season. The title is also Alabama's eighth Western Division as well, pulling them into a tie for first with LSU, who has also won eight division titles. Alabama and LSU are the only two schools to ever win the Western Division since the SEC began play in 1997.
ALABAMA HAS SIX NFCA ALL-REGION SELECTIONS
The Alabama softball team tied a school record with six All-South Region first team accolades, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) announced. The six first team honors ties the 2009 team and was the most of any team in the country. Just five of the 129 teams that received an award this season had each of their six nominees selected to an all-region team. No. 2 Arizona State, No. 3 Alabama, No. 7 Louisiana-Lafayette, No 12 Oregon and No. 15 UCLA all placed six student-athletes on one of their respective region's two teams. Alabama was the only team this year to place all six of its nominees on its respective region's first team. Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia (1B), sophomore Kaila Hunt (SS), junior Kaila Braud (OF), senior Jennifer Fenton (OF), sophomore Jackie Traina (UTL/P) and senior Amanda Locke (UTL/DP) nabbed the honors for the Crimson Tide.
SOFTBALL GARNERS 14 ALL CONFERENCE HONORS
The Alabama softball team was recognized with 14 honors as the Southeastern Conference announced its annual softball awards, on May 9. Crimson Tide sophomore Jackie Traina was named the Pitcher of the Year while senior Jennifer Fenton was named the Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year. Patrick Murphy garnered Coach of the Year accolades. In addition to Traina and Fenton, sophomore Kaila Hunt was named to the SEC first team while seniors Cassie Reilly-Boccia, Jazlyn Lunceford, Kendall Dawson, and Amanda Locke and junior Kayla Braud were tabbed to the second team. Dawson, Reilly-Boccia and Lunceford also earned all-defensive team honors. Reilly-Boccia was also named to the SEC Community Service team.
ALABAMA HAS THREE NAMED ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICANS
Alabama junior outfielder Kayla Braud (Eugene, Ore.), junior infielder Jackey Branham (Troy, Mo.) and senior first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) were named to the Capital One Academic All-America® Softball Team, as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). Braud earned first team honors for the second straight season while Branham and Reilly-Boccia were named to the second team and garner the accolades for the first time in their careers. The three All-America honors tied the 2001 team for the most in a single year in program history.
TRAINA NAMED USA SOFTBALL TOP 10 FINALIST
Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina was named an Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America Top 10 Finalists for the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. The three finalists selected from this list will be announced May 23, while the winner of the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award will be revealed on May 29 prior to the start of the NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City.
ALABAMA REACHES 50 WINS AGAIN
With the victory over Florida in the SEC Tournament Championship Game, Alabama reached the 50-win mark for the 10th time in its history. UA has won 50 or more games in eight straight seasons which is the longest streak in SEC history. The 10, 50-win seasons are also the most in SEC history as LSU has nine 50 win seasons and posted a streak of seven consecutive 50-win years in the late 90s to early 2000s. The 55 wins in 2012 are the most since the 2008 campaign.
ALABAMA IN NEUTRAL SITE GAMES
Alabama has not played in many neutral site contests but is a perfect 6-0 in the six games played. The Crimson Tide is hitting .372 with 11 home runs and 44 RBI. UA has outscored its opponents on neutral site fields, 48-17. Kayla Braud leads the team with a .563 average (9-for-16) with 10 stolen bases. Jackie Traina is 4-0 with a 1.35 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched.
HOME RUN POWER
Alabama enters the Women's College World Series second in the country with 93 home runs. The Tide has been hitting the longball consistently as of late, going deep in 36 of the last 44 games. Overall the Tide has belted a home run in 48 of the 60 games and has hit two or more home runs in 31 games this season.
Alabama sophomore Kaila Hunt leads the conference with 20 home runs and senior Amanda Locke is right behind her with 17, the most by any two players on a team in Alabama history since 1998. The most home runs by any two players in Alabama's history were 40, set by All-American Kelly Kretschman (25) and Carrie Moreman (15). The 20 home runs by Hunt is the second most in a single season in school history.
Alabama senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia broke the career walks record as she now sports 177 career free passes. Kelly Kretschman held the UA record with 161 career walks. Despite being just a junior, Kayla Braud is also ascending up the charts. Braud has swiped 143 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 134 stolen bases. Senior Amanda Locke is powering her way into the home run record book as she ranks third all-time with 53 career home runs. Kretschman holds the record with 60 career roundtrippers. Kendall Dawson threw out her school record 40th runner against Florida, and now has 43 in her career. She was tied with Lacy Prejean, who had thrown out 39 over her career.
Alabama sophomore Kaila Hunt has been driving in runs at an alarming rate. Hunt reached 70 RBI this past weekend to become just the second player in school history to meet that milestone. She now sports 74 on the year to rank second all-time in a single season at Alabama. Only Charlotte Morgan (79, 2008 & 74, 2010) has totaled 70 or more in an Alabama uniform. Hunt has really turned it on as of late as she has tallied at least one RBI in 10 of the last 11 games and totaled 23 over that same 11-game span. Since April 14 the sophomore has recorded 34 RBI and driven in two or more 12 times. Hunt has tallied 24 multi-RBI games in 2012.
TRAINA RECORD SEASON
Alabama sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina became just the fourth pitcher in school history with 300 or more strikeouts, joining Kelsi Dunne, Shelley Laird and UA pitching coach Stephanie VanBrakle. Dunne holds the single season mark with 355. Traina also sports 37 wins, which are the second most in a single season in school history, just one back of the 38 set by Laird in 2000. Her 315 Ks rank fifth in the UA single season annals.
Since the NCAA Division I Tournament shifted to the current Super Regional format in 2005, the only two teams to advance to the newly created round each year have been the University of Alabama and the University of Arizona. The Crimson Tide and the Wildcats have now advanced to an NCAA record eight consecutive Super Regionals. Four teams have made it to seven Super Regionals falling short at one time, all of which have advanced this season (Arizona State, California, Michigan and Washington). The Tuscaloosa Super Regional featured the most combined appearances between participants with 15 between the Tide and the Wolverines, just ahead of the Berkeley and Tucson Super Regionals which both have a combined 14 appearances between participants.
CRIMSON TIDE PUNCHES ITS EIGHTH TICKET TO OKC
With the Super Regional Championship this weekend, Alabama punched its eighth ticket to Oklahoma City in the last 12 years. Since the turn of the millennium, Alabama has appeared in more Women's College World Series than any program outside the Pacific-12 Conference and with its trip this year, UA ties UCLA on that list with eight appearances since 2000, trailing only Arizona, who currently sits at 10.
Alabama enters the postseason with one of the most experienced squads in the country. The Crimson Tide boasts six seniors that have combined to find time in 1,223 games and start 994 times. Five of the six seniors have started more than 150 games in their careers and four of the seniors have eclipsed the 200-games played mark. Cassie Reilly-Boccia leads the senior class with 251 games played and 238 starts. The seniors also boast the best winning percentage over their careers than any other team in the country. The five sport an .846 (214-39) record which is north of the .840 mark put together by Florida and the .810 percentage by the Missouri seniors.
Alabama has raced out to a 55-7 record and has been doing it in impressive fashion. The Tide has outscored its opponents 433-157, including a 103-23 advantage in the first inning. UA is averaging 6.93 runs per game and 8.11 hits per contest. Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton are averaging just over a run and a hit per game, while Amanda Locke is driving in nearly a run per game, and Kaila Hunt is averaging more than one run batted in per game (1.28). In the circle, Jackie Traina is averaging nine strikeouts per contest.
REILLY-BOCCIA NAMED A LOWE'S FINALIST
Alabama first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia (Yorktown Heights, N.Y.) was one of 10 softball student-athletes that were selected as finalists for the 2012 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. The finalists were chosen by a media committee from the list of 30 candidates announced in February. Lowe's will announce the Senior CLASS Award® winner during the 2012 NCAA Women's College World Series.