Bama softball earns Easton Challenge Title with 9-2 win

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 2-ranked Alabama softball team earned the SEC/ACC Challenge title with a 9-2 win over Florida State, Sunday afternoon at Rhoads Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide enters Southeastern Conference play with a 24-1 record.

"This was a very good weekend against two teams that will be in the postseason," Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy said. "I am glad that North Carolina and Florida State decided to come here and it turned out to be a great weekend for the fans."

Junior Cassie Reilly-Boccia paced the Tide at the plate with a 2-for-3 effort, driving in a career-best five RBI en route to being named the tournament MVP. The five RBI output was her second in as many games.

Sophomore Kayla Braud also earned all-tournament honors as she added two more hits, scored a run, and tallied a RBI. Braud has now reached base in every contest in 2011 and has strung together a 44-game streak, dating back to the final 19 games in 2010.

Senior Whitney Larsen was also named to the all-tournament team as she scored a run and recorded a RBI. The senior batted .400 on the weekend, hit three home runs and drove in eight.

Freshman Jackie Traina improved to a perfect 10-0 as she allowed two runs on 10 hits and struck out five in the complete game effort. The rookie also went deep. On the weekend Traina was walked eight times and earned two wins in the circle.

Alabama opened the scoring in the first when Reilly-Boccia took a 3-2 pitch and placed it through the right side to score junior Jazlyn Lunceford and Traina.

After Florida State evened the score at 2-2, Reilly-Boccia once again gave Alabama the lead. This time the junior blasted a three-run homer into the Brickyard in right field to give the Tide a 5-2 advantage.

Alabama put four more on the board in the fourth. Sophomore Jackey Branham started off the rally with a double to left-center and then Braud followed suit with a double of her own down the left field line.

Lunceford then smacked a double to bring home Braud and then later scored all the way from second on a sac-fly by Larsen. Traina capped off the inning with her 11th home run of the season, hitting a drive just inside the foul pole down the right field line.

Alabama will open SEC play against rival Auburn in its first of two league midweek doubleheaders. The two teams will meet on Wednesday, March 16, with the first pitch of game one slated for 3 p.m. Both games of the twin-bill will air on CSS.

INFORMATION SOURCE: University of Alabama Athletics