TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The number two national seeded Alabama softball team (53-7) will host the University of Michigan in the Tuscaloosa Super Regional on Thursday and Friday at Rhoads Stadium. The best-of-three series kicks off on Thursday night, at 7 p.m. Game two will be Friday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. Game three, if necessary, will be on Friday night at 6 p.m. The winner of the series will advance to the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City. This is the fifth straight year that Alabama has hosted a Super Regional.
The Alabama softball team hosted the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional over the weekend and went 3-0 to win the first round of tournament play. On Friday evening, the Crimson Tide used an Amanda Locke three-hitter and the bats of Danae Hays and Jennifer Fenton to defeat UT Martin, 5-1. Fenton had three hits on the evening, while Hays hit her fifth home run of the year. Alabama advanced to the winner's bracket on Saturday to face off against South Alabama. The Crimson Tide knocked off the Jaguars, 5-2, to advance to the regional final on Sunday. Jackie Traina threw a complete game two-hitter and Kaila Hunt drove in three runs to pace the Tide. In the Sunday title game, also against South Alabama, Alabama used another Traina two-hitter to win 6-0 and advance to the Super Regional round. Cassie Reilly-Boccia led UA at the plate with three hits on the afternoon. Alabama gave up just eight hits on the weekend while striking out 27 batters in the three games.
Alabama has been led during the postseason by two of its senior leaders in Jennifer Fenton and Cassie Reilly-Boccia. In Alabama's six postseason games, all wins, Fenton leads the team with a .667 (12-for-18) batting average, with four runs batted in, nine runs scored, eight stolen bases and has slugged at a .778 clip. Fellow senior, Reilly-Boccia has batted .529 (9-for-17) and has driven in four runs. In the 41 games that Alabama has played NCAA Tournament participants, Reilly-Boccia leads the team with a .359 (37-for-103) batting average with five home runs and 29 runs batted in. Fenton is second on the team with a .336 (39-for-116) average with 38 runs scored and 24 stolen bases.
The Wolverines of Michigan enters the Super Regional with a 42-15 record after winning the Louisville Regional last weekend. Michigan opened up with a 3-2, walk-off victory over Kentucky, after freshman Sara Driesenga hit a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to win it. The Wolverines followed that up with another walk-off victory, this time over the host team and 15th seed Louisville Cardinals, 2-1, in eight innings. Michigan loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning, and sophomore Caitlin Blanchard was hit by a pitch to force the winning run across. Michigan won the regional by again defeating Louisville, this time, 4-0, to advance. Senior infielder Amy Chidester leads UM with a .351 (60-for-171) batting average with nine home runs and 45 runs batted in. Junior Ashley Lane has hit 11 home runs with 39 RBI on the year. Michigan is led in the circle by freshman pitcher Haylie Wagner, who has gone 32-5 on the year, including victories in all three regional games this past weekend. The 32 wins are a school record for a freshman. Wagner has posted a 1.46 ERA and has 153 strikeouts in 239 innings of work. The Wolverines are led by head coach Carol Hutchins, who has gone 1,251-422-4 in 28 seasons in charge.
Alabama has faced off against Michigan 11 times previously, with the Wolverines holding a 7-4 lead in the series. The two teams last played in the 2010 season, with Michigan winning two out of the three games played between the two non-conference opponents. Alabama won the first game, 10-6, behind Whitney Larsen's grand slam, in a game at the Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. The Crimson Tide dropped the next two games to Michigan in the Easton Challenge, held at Rhoads Stadium. Michigan won games two and three, 5-2, and 4-2, respectively.
Alabama has faced off against 18 teams in the NCAA Tournament and has posted a 36-5 record, winning eight series against the Southeastern Conference schools that made the tournament (out of nine). Kaila Hunt is batting .328 (39-for-119) with 12 home runs and 48 runs batted in in 39 games against tournament-bound foes. Kayla Braud and Jennifer Fenton have combined to steal 51 bases against those teams. Jackie Traina is 27-2 with 243 strikeouts and a 1.74 ERA against NCAA Tournament teams. Alabama, as a team, has hit 57 home runs and driven in 243 runs against tournament-bound teams, while their pitchers have thrown 313 strikeouts and had a 1.98 ERA against the 18 teams.