TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - For the second year in a row, the Alabama softball team used a sixth inning RBI triple to score the winning run and punch its ticket to Oklahoma City and the Women's College World Series. Alabama defeated Michigan, 4-3, to be the first team to earn a berth into the field of eight.
Junior Kayla Braud laced a one-out triple down the right field line that scored pinch-runner Danielle Richard from third base to give the Crimson Tide its first lead of the game at 4-3.
Alabama, who advances to its second consecutive WCWS and third in four years, improves to 55-7 overall. Michigan ends their season at 42-17. The 55 wins this season is Alabama's most since 2008.
"I am so proud of my team," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "I'm so proud of everyone on this team, one through 20."
Sophomore Jackie Traina earned the win for Alabama, improving to 37-2 on the year after throwing a complete game, giving up three runs, two earned, while striking out five. Haylie Wagner took the loss for Michigan, falling to 32-7 after giving up four runs on seven hits and striking out four.
Alabama had seven hits on the day, led by two from senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia. Kaila Hunt added two RBI, giving her 74 on the season, tied for second in the Alabama single-season annals with Charlotte Morgan.
After falling behind on a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning, Alabama struck back in the second inning to even the score. Senior Jazlyn Lunceford led off the inning with a single up the middle and was able to advance to second on a Reilly-Boccia bunt. After both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt, Lunceford was able to score on a senior Kendall Dawson's sacrifice fly to shallow right field, tying the game at 1-1.
Michigan would tack on two runs in the bottom of the second inning, both with two outs, after Alabama committed two errors. Alabama would trail until the top of the fifth inning, when they began its comeback. Senior
Jennifer Fenton hit a one-out infield single, and sophomore Kaila Hunt hit her 20th home run of the season, a blast that landed over the scoreboard, to tie the game at 3-3 and set the stage for Braud's heroics.
The game was the final home game for six Alabama seniors. Olivia Gibson, Jazlyn Lunceford, Cassie Reilly-Boccia, Amanda Locke, Jennifer Fenton, and Kendall Dawson have combined to go 214-39 in their careers, good for the highest winning percentage of a senior class in the country.
"The six seniors have been incredible for their four years," Murphy said. "I couldn't ask for anybody better on my team and to represent the University of Alabama."