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WCWS BAMA beats #1 Oregon

SReg_GM1_FEAT3Alabama (53-11) remained undefeated in the Women’s College World Series this weekend, beating Oklahoma, Kentucky, and taking down the number one seed, Oregon. The Tide has now earned the right to advance to an all-SEC Finals against the Florida Gators.

Thursday opened the WCWS for Alabama, going against the Oklahoma Sooners (50-12). After being down early, two home runs by Peyton Grantham and Jayden Spencer lifted the Tide over the Sooners and won with a 6-2 victory. The homers by Grantham and Spencer made it Alabama’s fourth multi-home-run game of the NCAA Tournament, with two of Grantham’s three hits clearing the fence.

Jaclyn Traina remained brilliant, only allowing 1 run off 1 hit and striking out nine batters. When victory was three outs away and ahead 6-2 in the top of the seventh, Traina struck out two and a high-fly ball would win the opening game for the Tide. The only other run scored against the Tide was unearned.

Head Coach Pat Murphy said, “I was worried after the early Oklahoma home run. I thought the crowd would really get into it. After that though, it was all Jaclyn Traina. I thought she did a really good job against a very good hitting team. They’re dangerous. They take their cuts and every time they swing, you hold your breath.”

Friday night would come to a more dramatic ending as Alabama would struggle to stifle a late 7th inning rally against Kentucky. All Alabama would need was two runs in 2-0 victory, coming from a two run homer by Lafaele. Alabama would fail to get any hits for the remainder of the game, but Traina kept a no-hitter until the bottom of the 6th inning.

In the bottom of the seventh, Kentucky loaded the bases with no outs. It looked as if Kentucky would at least tie the game or win it, but Traina bounced back with a strikeout for the first out. Danae Hays was in perfect position to field a grounder in the next at-bat, as she made the throw over the Kaila Hunt covering second who then slung the ball over to Lafaele at first to complete the 6-4-3 double play to end the game and give Alabama the 2-0 victory.

“It was an awesome game tonight,” said Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy. “I thought it was a made-for-TV sporting event with the way it played out at the end. These were two really good teams with really good pitchers. I couldn’t be more pleased to stay in the winner’s bracket.”

Sunday’s game pitted the top two seeds against one another as #2 seed Alabama played #1 seed Oregon. It was second-seeded Alabama that came out on top Sunday, winning its ninth Women’s College World Series game with a 2-0 shutout over Oregon to advance to the WCWS championship series for the second time in three years.

Two runs and timely hits would again be all the Tide needed to win. Traina (26-3) was phenomenal, shutting down the Oregon (56-9-1) offense, only allowing eight hits and striking out eight. She has now struck out 23 batters over 21.0 innings pitched in the Women’s College World Series, allowing just one earned run off nine hits.

Haylie McCleney went 2-4 out of the leadoff spot, popping her 10th home run of the season to break the scoreless tie in the bottom of the 5th inning to make the score 1-0. The home run was her first in exactly one month, last hitting one on May 1 at Missouri. With two outs in the inning and Hunt at first base, Fichtner dropped a single just in front of the sliding Oregon center fielder that bounced past her. The hop allowed Hunt to score all the way from first, sliding under the tag attempt at home to make it a 2-0 ballgame. A strikeout ended the half-inning but the Tide was now in front by two, and the crowd was electrified.

The score would remain 2-0 into the 7th and the Tide was three outs away from a ticket to the championship. Jaclyn Train gave up a single and put two runners on second and first. Freshman Sammie Puentes came in to pinch hit for the Ducks as the potential winning run, but she ultimately struck out as Traina threw her eighth strikeout of the day to give Alabama the 2-0 victory to advance to their second WCWS championship series in three years.

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