*From Alabama Media Relations*
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The top seeded Alabama softball team used two big innings to defeat eighth seeded Mississippi State, 5-2, in its opening round game at the Southeastern Conference tournament on Thursday night in front of 2,691 fans at Rhoads Stadium. Alabama advances to play Georgia in the semifinals on Friday.
"I thought it was an entertaining game," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "Great crowd, great atmosphere, great energy from them. I thought we had a lot of opportunities early that we didn't take advantage of. It was a good game overall. Jackie (Traina) pitched pretty well. (Kayla) Braud obviously made a great play in the first inning that gave us the momentum and I thought we used that throughout the whole game."
Alabama improves to 48-7 on the year, while Mississippi State falls to 33-22 overall. The win was the 27th consecutive victory for the Crimson Tide over the Bulldogs and the 13th consecutive tournament-opening victory as it improved to 30-19 overall in the event.
Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina improved to 32-2 on the year, good for tops in the country in victories. Traina gave up two runs on five hits and struck out eight in her seven innings of work. Kylie Vry took the loss for MSU, dropping to 9-8 on the year.
Alabama cranked out eight hits on the night, including three by senior Jennifer Fenton. Fenton also stole three bases to bring her total to a SEC-high 38 on the year. Sophomore Kaila Hunt drove in three runs on the evening.
Alabama got rolling in the bottom of the third inning. Junior Kayla Braud reached on an error and was able to advance to second. Fenton was able to lay down a perfect bunt to move Braud to third and Fenton beat the throw. Senior Amanda Locke hit an infield single to score Braud and put UA up 1-0. Hunt then hit a two-run single up the middle to increase the lead to 3-0. Alabama was able to load the bases with no outs but could not increase its lead.
In the fourth inning, Braud led off with a perfectly placed bunt and advanced to third on a Fenton single. Braud was able to score on a Hunt sacrifice fly, her 60th RBI on the year. Hunt became just the sixth Alabama player to ever reach 60 RBI in a season. Senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia hit a bloop single over the first baseman's head to score Fenton and make it 5-0 Alabama.
After MSU scored twice in the top of the sixth inning, Traina retired the last five Bulldog batters to shut the door on the Bulldogs.
Alabama will face off against the Georgia Bulldogs in the semifinal round at 4:30 p.m. The game will air on ESPNU with Beth Mowins, Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith calling the action.