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Cathi Aradi

Fifth Inning Outburst Backs Traina’s Solid Effort as Alabama Shuts Out Oregon at the WCWS, 2-0

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – On Sunday at the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla., NFCA All-Americans Jaclyn Traina and Haylie McCleney helped lead Alabama to its second WCWS Championship Series berth over the last three seasons via a 2-0 shutout of Oregon. 

With the victory Alabama will now face long time Southeastern Conference rival Florida in the first-ever All-SEC WCWS Championship Series match-up over June 2-4. 

Traina improved to 26-3 overall, scattering four hits and striking out eight during a complete-game effort, while Cheridan Hawkins (35-6) took the loss for Oregon after permitting a pair of earned runs on four hits with a walk and three K’s over 2.2 frames of relief. 

McCleney provided the biggest blow offensively for the Tide, blasting a solo HR to right during the decisive fifth frame. Alabama catcher Molly Fichtner went 1-for-3 while knocking in UA’s additional tally. For Oregon, NFCA All-American third baseman Courtney Ceo led the Ducks by going 2-for-3 at the dish.

Box ScoreAlabama QuotesOregon QuotesNotes

"First, congrats to Coach White and Oregon, they're a heck of a good team," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "This is similar to 2012 when we had to beat the Pac-12 champion today, Cal, and they were just as tough as Cal was that day; just a really, really good team. Again, for Jaclyn to shut out that offense, it's just incredible.

"So you’ve got to tip your hat to Jac and our defense. And then we got a couple key hits. Usually in the postseason, you have to have the great starting pitcher, you have to have the great defense. And then the third ingredient is you have to have the key RBIs, and we were 3 for 3."

Needing two wins to advance to the WCWS Championship Series, Oregon tried to get something going immediately in the top of the first as a Ceo bunt single and a failed fielder’s choice put two Ducks on with one out. Unfortunately for the Ducks, first baseman Kailee Cuico popped up and catcher Janelle Lindvall went down swinging against Traina to end the frame. 

The Crimson Tide offense found itself in business in the bottom of the first as a leadoff single by center fielder McCleney and a base knock through the middle by right fielder Jaydn Spencer stationed runners at the corners with one retired. Second baseman Kaila Hunt hit a sharp shot back to the circle that was corralled on the bounce by Oregon starter Karissa Hovinga. She turned towards third, catching McCleney in a rundown to take the starch out of the threat. Fichtner put a charge in a ball but it came up short of the track in left center as ‘Bama matched the Ducks in the first by leaving a duo stranded. 

Back-to-back singles from designated player Danielle Richard and Spencer christened a two-out Tide threat in the bottom of the third. A Kaila Hunt walk loaded the bases full of Crimson, but Fichtner flew out to center to leave the bases juiced. 

A one-out single by Traina in the bottom of the fourth ended Hovinga’s stint in the circle as NFCA All-American Hawkins entered the circle in relief. The move paid immediate dividends as the new hurler retired the first two batters she faced to conclude the inning. 

‘Bama’s McCleney finally broke the dead lock in the bottom of the fifth as she hammered a leadoff solo HR over the right field wall for a 1-0 lead. A two-out walk by Hunt was soon cashed in by Fichtner as her RBI single to center ended up escaping past a defender and rolling to the wall. Hunt had just enough time to race around the bases and touch her right foot in before the tag as the advantage expanded to a pair of tallies.

Looking for some valuable insurance in the bottom of the sixth, a Traina single up the middle and a perfect bunt from pinch hitter Ryan Iamurri put a pair on with no outs. There would be no more on the scoreboard, however, as a fielder’s choice cut down the lead runner at third, McCleney popped up to short and third baseman Peyton Grantham was caught stealing. 

With Oregon still trailing by two entering the last chance top of the seventh, Cuico granted the Ducks life by starting the frame with a leadoff single to right center. Lindvall entered the batter’s box next and absolutely crushed a 2-2 pitch down the left field line. The blast might have been the tying two-run home run, but was judged to have drifted just foul by the home plate umpire. The Duck catcher struck out looking on the very next pitch from Traina. Right fielder Alexa Peterson lifted a high fly to left that was tracked down in foul ground for the second out. Center fielder Koral Costa kept things going for UO with a base knock to left, meaning that pinch hitter Sammie Puentes stepped to the plate as the potential go-ahead run. The freshman went down swinging against the ‘Bama hurler, however, to finish off the shutout.