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Cathi Aradi

Huge First Lifts Alabama To WCWS Win Over Tennessee

Alabama's Jackie Traina. Courtesy of UA Athletic Media Relations.OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – A four-run first inning gave Alabama the cushion it needed to withstand a late rally from Tennessee, as the Crimson Tide topped the Lady Vols, 5-3 on Friday in the third game of the 2012 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

Kayla Braud kicked off the Tide’s monster first inning with a leadoff single to the shortstop. After Jennifer Fenton walked and Kaila Hunt reached on an error, Cassie Reilly-Boccia drove in all three base runners with a double to the wall in left center to giver her team an early 3-0 lead.

Tennessee (52-13) went on to walk the next two Alabama (56-7) batters and walked in the fourth run of the inning as well to extend the lead to 4-0

However, Tennessee did not lie down and quickly cut the lead in half in the top of the second with a two-run shot to left field from Melissa Davin. Despite the quick offense, the Lady Vols would keep up their momentum and did not get another hit until the sixth inning.

Alabama added another run in the fourth off of a RBI single from Jennifer Fenton to give the Tide a 5-2 lead that they would hold on to heading into seventh. In the seventh, Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina walked two consecutive batters allowing Raven Chavanne to drive in Davin off of a single and cut the lead to two. However, Traina was able to put the first part of the frame behind her and strike out the next two batters to give Alabama their second-consecutive WCWS-opening win.

After the game, Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy talked about what he though the catalyst for the win was.

“I thought the first inning was the key. I think all of us here would love to pitch with a 4-0 lead after the first inning and our batters did a great job, took advantage of some walks. And then Cassie Reilly-Boccia came through with a huge hit, bases-loaded double and cleared them. It was just a good way to start this year’s World Series for us.

Traina went the full seven frames for Alabama to pick up her 38th win of the season. She allowed just three runs off of five hits while walking just three and striking out eight. Taking the loss for Tennessee was Ivy Renfroe, who allowed three earned runs off of four hits over 2.2 innings of work. With the loss, she falls to 25-9 on the season.

On Friday, Alabama will continue its quest to become the fist SEC national champion when it meets the winner of Friday’s late game between Arizona State and Oregon at 8:30 p.m. CT. For Tennessee, it will have Friday off before returning to action on Saturday in an elimination game with the loser of the same contest at 1:30 p.m.