Tide punches ticket to Oklahoma City with sweep of Nebraska
TUSCALOOSA – After a marathon win in game one, Alabama was more efficient in game two, defeating Nebraska 2-1 in the second game of the weekend to earn the Super Regional win and punch the Crimson Tide’s ninth ticket to the Women’s College World Series.
“We knew that it was going to be a battle and it definitely was,” said coach Patrick Murphy. “I’m so proud of Jaclyn Traina because she gutted out so many performances over the year. She was much better than yesterday and I think everyone saw that.”
The Super Regional win is Alabama’s (50-11) ninth in program history and the third for this senior class that includes Traina (23-3), who threw the complete-game victory with just one run off three hits. A first-inning rally provided all the runs that Alabama would need, with Molly Fichtner and Marisa Runyon driving in the all-important runs while Haylie McCleney and Kaila Hunt each earned a pair of hits.
“I still had a lot of confidence in myself,” said Traina. “Days like yesterday happen and I just learn from it. We worked a lot on the off-speed in there today too and that kept them off-balance. We were just on the same page together and it worked out.”
Nebraska (44-18) could not get anything going against Triana on offense, putting just five baserunners on all game. Starter Tatum Edwards (24-13) went the distance in the circle and took the loss despite limiting Alabama to just two runs off seven hits.
Alabama scored first off a two-out rally in the top of the opening inning. Hunt got things started with a single up the middle and Jadyn Spencer reached on a booted ball from the shortstop to put runners at the corners. Fichtner drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single up the middle and Runyon tacked on another one with an RBI single down the first-base line, advancing to second on the throw to put two in scoring position with two away. A popup ended the rally with the Tide leading 2-0 early.
Nebraska was able to drive in one in the bottom of the second, as Austen Urness grounded out to third with a pair in scoring position as the only play went to first as the Huskers drew within one, down 2-1. A strikeout ended the inning with Alabama able to hold the potential tying run at third.
Alabama held steady for the remainder of the game, keeping Nebraska out of the run column though the Tide could not tack on any insurance in the top of the seventh, as the Huskers had one final chance in the bottom half trailing 2-1. The tying run never got off the plate, as Traina sat down the side in order to secure the one-run win and punch Alabama its ninth ticket to the Women’s College World Series.
Alabama will open play in Oklahoma City on Thursday, May 29. The Tide will face the winner of the Oklahoma vs. Tennessee Super Regional.