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, a roadblock in ’Bama's first six WCWS appearances.
“Cassie's hit was huge, because if you're Tennessee, you have to dig out of a hole,” Braud said. “Nobody wants to do that. I thought that was great momentum to come out on fire like we did.”
Alabama sophomore right-hander Jackie Traina, 38-2, tied the school record for wins in a season by tossing a five-hitter.
Traina gave up a two-run homer to Melissa Davis in the second and escaped a seventh-inning jam with back-to-back strikeouts to end the game.
“Jackie is very resilient as a pitcher and you need that,” Murphy said. “You have to have a very short term memory. She has that as was witnessed in the seventh inning.”