Patrick Murphy has been at Alabama since the softball program was started in 1997. He has led the Crimson Tide to eight Women’s College World Series appearances. But this team, seeded second, has a viable shot at reaching the best-of-3 finals for the first time in school history.
The Crimson Tide took the first step Thursday night at Hall of Fame Stadium by posting a 5-3 win over SEC rival Tennessee.
“With six seniors that have been here three times, they know the field, they know the crowd, they know (the media attention),” Murphy said. “Hopefully this is it, but there are a lot of really good teams here.”
Cashing in on seven Tennessee walks and a hit by pitch, Alabama scored four runs before the Volunteers recorded an out. Cassie Reilly-Boccia’s bases loaded, three-run double ignited the first-inning rally. Traina drew a bases-loaded walk for a 4-0 lead.
Leadoff hitter Kayla Braud scored two runs and collected three of ’Bama’s five hits to lead the Crimson Tide (56-7) to a first-round win for the second consecutive year.
Alabama sophomore right-hander Jackie Traina (38-2) tied the school record for wins in a season by tossing a five-hitter.
California 5, LSU 3
California ace Jolene Henderson has lost only twice all season. Even when the junior right-hander is a little off, the Bears’ offense often comes to the rescue.
A good example was Cal’s WCWS opener Thursday afternoon as the No. 1-ranked Bears rallied for a win over LSU.
Henderson surrendered a 2-0 lead in the second, but the Bears rapped out seven hits to advance to the winners’ bracket finals Friday night against Oklahoma.
Cal (57-5) scored single runs in the third and fifth to tie it and scored three runs in the sixth to complete the comeback.
“We got behind, but this team fights until the end as you saw today,” said center fielder Frani Echavarria, who drove in three runs. “Everyone pulled together.”
Echavarria lined an RBI single in the third and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth to tie the game 2-2. Leadoff hitter Jamia Reid had two infield singles and scored two runs, including the go-ahead run in the sixth.
Arizona State 3, Oregon 1
Arizona State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first and held on to defeat Oregon on Thursday night.
Oregon lead-off hitter Samantha Pappas doubled to open the game and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. She forgot to tag third base before sprinting home and potentially scoring the first run of the ball game and was called out.
The Sun Devils will take on Alabama at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Alabama opened the WCWS with a 5-3 victory against SEC rival Tennessee. Arizona State (52-9) pitcher Dallas Escobedo gave up just five hits and struck out four in the game.
Oregon (44-17) surged in the top of the seventh, scoring its only run but failed to capitalize on its momentum.