OKLAHOMA CITY - The number two seed Alabama softball team (56-7) had a big first inning that led to a 5-3 victory over Tennessee (52-13), in its opening round game of the Women's College World Series at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium on Thursday evening. With the win, the Crimson Tide moves into the winner's bracket for the second consecutive year.
Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina improved to 38-2 on the year, tying Shelley Laird for the most victories in a single season. Traina threw a complete game five-hitter, giving up the three runs while striking out eight batters. Ivy Renfroe took the loss for Tennessee, dropping to 25-9 on the season.
The Crimson Tide cranked out five hits, including three by junior Kayla Braud, who also scored two runs. Senior Jennifer Fenton reached base for the 14th consecutive game with a walk in the first inning and moved her hitting streak to 11 with a hit in her third at bat.
Alabama wasted no time with its offense, as the Tide put up four runs in the bottom of the first inning. Braud led off with an infield single and stole second before Fenton drew a walk. Sophomore Kaila Hunt was able to reach on an error to load the bases, and then Reilly-Boccia hit a three-run double to the center field wall, putting Alabama ahead, 3-0.
Alabama then loaded the bases and was able to increase the lead when Traina drew a walk, scoring Reilly-Boccia from third, making it 4-0.
After Tennessee cut the lead in half with a home run, Alabama added some insurance in the bottom of the fourth inning. Braud hit a one-out double to right-center, and came around to score on Fenton's RBI single up the middle, making it 5-2 in favor of Alabama. The hit increased Fenton's hitting streak that includes every game in postseason play for the Crimson Tide this season.
Tennessee added a run in the top of the seventh and had two runners on base with the lead-run at the plate, but Traina managed to strike out the final two batters to preserve the win.
Alabama will play the winner of Arizona State and Oregon in a winner's bracket contest scheduled for Friday, June 1, at 8:30 p.m. CT. The game will air on ESPN2.