Despite First Inning Homer by McKinley, No. 3/4 Alabama Defeats Memphis, 7-1
May 21, 2011
Tuscaloosa, Ala. --- Kelsi Dunne struck out 12 as Alabama handed Memphis a 7-1 loss Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Softball Regional hosted in Tuscaloosa at Rhoads Stadium. Memphis will face the winner of the 3:30 p.m. game between Chattanooga and Jackson State at 6 p.m. this evening in an elimination game.
The Tigers (36-13) struck first in the bottom of the first inning with a home run with two outs by Maddie McKinley. The shot over the left field fence was the seventh home run of 2011 by McKinley as the Tigers led 1-0 through one inning.
Alabama (48-8), the second seeded team in the NCAA Championship and nationally ranked #3/4, answered Memphis' run with four of its own in the top of the second inning. With one out and Jazlyn Lunceford on second following a walk and an illegal pitch, Kaila Hunt belted a two-run homer over the wall right of centerfield, just the eighth home run allowed by starting pitcher Carly Hummel in more than 150 innings pitched this season.
Alabama kept the rally going as they loaded the bases with two singles and a walk with two outs. Whitney Larsen belted a shot to left field to drive both Kendall Dawson and Kayla Braud in. Hummel finally got Amanda Locke to fly out to left to end the inning.
With the exception of McKinley's home run, Alabama's Kelsi Dunne was hard to solve early, striking out eight of the first nine Tiger batters. She didn't allow another base runner until a Heather Mott walk in the third inning.
Alabama extended its lead with one run in the top of the fifth inning as Memphis brought in Lauren Carley to relieve Hummel, who allowed three runs off five hits through three innings. Jennifer Fenton led off the inning with a single and stole second on the next pitch. Larsen drove in Fenton on a shot out to center for the only run of the inning, extending the Crimson Tide's lead to 5-1.
Memphis tried to get something going in the bottom of the fifth, but stranded two runners in the inning. With one out, senior Alex Marshall walked and advanced to second on a single by Nikki Moreno, who came in as a pinch hitter for Keanah Prestridge. Marshall was then picked off at second after getting too big of a jump towards third. Mott drew her second walk of the game before Dunne struck out Lelani Bernadino to end the inning.
Alabama scored another two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Courtney Conley drew a walk and moved to second on a ground out. Kayla Braud singled to left to move Conley over to third.
Following a Fenton fly-out that wasn't deep enough to score the runner, Larsen drove a shot to left to score both Conley and Braud before Carley got pinch hitter Keima Davis to chase one outside to end the inning with Alabama up 7-1.
Larsen finished the day with five runs batted in, the most by an individual Tiger opponent since DePaul's Marla Matthews drove in five against Memphis back on February 11.
Hummel (21-7) suffered the loss for Memphis in the circle, allowing four runs on four hits with four strikeouts. The sophomore did become the all-time Memphis career leader in strikeouts in the game, surpassing Jenna Kubesch (2006-07). Hummel has 404 career K's in her two years.
Jessica Phillips led the Tigers, who had four hits in the game, with a 2-for-3 performance. McKinley and Moreno were the only other Tigers to record hits off Dunne. Jackie Traina pitched the final inning for Alabama and allowed one walk and no hits.
Dunne improved to 25-3 and allowed seven base runners in the game, including three walks.
The loss marks only the second time this season Memphis has fallen after scoring first. The Tigers are now 30-2 this year when scoring the first run in the game.
The Tigers will face the winner of the Jackson State-Chattanooga game (3:30 p.m.) at 6 p.m. at the Rhoads Softball Complex. If victorious, the Tigers will face Alabama tomorrow, at 1 p.m. in the regional championship bracket for the first of two possible games. Memphis would need to win the next three games to win the Regional.