*Courtesy Alabama Media Relations*
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama will be one of just 16 Division-I programs playing softball next weekend, as the Crimson Tide defeated South Alabama, 3-0, in Sunday's Tuscaloosa Regional Championship to advance to the program's NCAA-record 10th straight Super Regional.
Alabama (48-11) is the only program in the country to advance to the Super Regional round every season since the round's inception in 2005. This season will be the seventh time Alabama has hosted a Super Regional and the sixth time in the last seven years.
A Tide offense that tallied a combined 20 runs in the weekend's first two games was quieted by talented pitching by South Alabama (42-14), though the three runs off five hits proved enough to win as Jaclyn Traina (22-3) and the defense played a great game to shutout the Jaguars. Traina fanned 11 batters, her first double-digit strikeout game since February, and only allowed two hits and three walks. Haylie McCleney's lone hit of the day was a second-inning triple, extending her hitting streak to 16-games which is tied for a career high. Jadyn Spencer went 1-3 out of the four hole, totaling nine hits on the weekend with a pair of home runs with five RBI.
South Alabama starter Farish Beard (22-7) was chased after 4.0 innings, allowing two earned runs and one unearned off four hits. Hannah Campbell pitched 3.0 relief innings with just one hit allowed but the offense could not mount a comeback behind her.
In the top of the second with one away, Triana lined out to the South Alabama shortstop but the play was called back for an illegal pitch as Traina was given second life at the plate, eventually drawing a walk. Peyton Grantham followed that with a single and, after a popup went for out number two, McCleney took advantage of the lengthened inning by roping a hard-hit triple into center field that bounced to the wall, scoring two to give Alabama the 2-0 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Danielle Richard led off the inning with a bunt single and advanced to second on an errant throw. That ended Beard's outing in the circle as Campbell entered to pitch for the Jaguars. Richard would advance to third on a groundout and Kaila Hunt would drive her in on a hard-hit single through the left side to make the score 3-0.
The three runs would be all Alabama would score through seven innings, as the Tide headed into the bottom of the seventh looking to secure its 10th-straight Super Regional appearance. A strikeout and groundout quickly put two outs on the board but Amanda Minahan battled through a long at-bat to draw a walk and keep the Jaguars alive. Minahan was left stranded however as Traina struck out the final batter to send Alabama to the Super Regional round.
Alabama will host a Super Regional next weekend as they will face Nebraska, who defeated Missouri twice Sunday, 11-4 and 8-1, to win the Columbia Regional. Game times and dates will be announced early in the week, with the two-day Super Regional either starting on Thursday, May 22 or Friday, May 23.