The Alabama Crimson Tide softball team, following their magnificent run to their first national title a year ago, will miss the NCAA Women’s College World Series for just the second time in the last six years as they fell to the Tennessee Lady Volunteers in an 0-2 series loss in the NCAA Knoxville Super Regional. With the season ending, the Crimson Tide close with a 45-15 overall record and a .750 winning percentage, the lowest winning percentage by a Crimson Tide team since 2004. Tennessee will move on the the WCWS and will face the champion of the Gainsville Super Regional.
In game one of the series on Friday, the game went much like the regular season matchup between the Crimson Tide and the Lady Vols. Alabama had many chances to earn runs in the game, but ended up not capitalizing on opportunities. Alabama did end up scoring two runs: one in the second and another in the fourth. But Tennessee would edge out with three runs of their own and would take the game 3-2. Senior pitcher Jackie Traina was handed the loss with one earned run on four hits and struck out five.
Game two, which was played Saturday, was an elimination game for Alabama. Alabama got off to a great start, scoring three runs and blanking the Vols in the first two innings. But things quickly unraveled as the Lady Vols came back slowly but surely, scoring fie runs over the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings to take the victory and the WCWS berth in a 5-3 final decision. Tennessee’s Ivy Renfroe got the win while sister Ellen Renfroe was credited with the save.
With a lot of new faces in the batting lineup, it was kind of over the top to expect a second consecutive national championship from this team, even with the return of ace Jackie Traina. Traina struggled much of the season on her own, but she wasn’t the only cause of Alabama’s woes. Many opportunities were squandered that could have meant more wins throughout the season. But this season shouldn’t be looked on as a disappointment. There were many moments proving this team can be clutch when it needs to be.
Alabama will have a very experienced and very deep team next season. Alabama will lose three seniors to graduation: Kayla Braud, Courtney Conley and Jackey Branham. While some huge bats will be lost, Freshmen Andrea Hawkins and Haylie McCleney will both be back next season. In the pitching staff, Jackie Traina will finish out her career next year and sophomore Leslie Jury will also return for her junior year. There are a lot of positive things to look forward to this team in the 2014 season. Hopefully, that will be a season where the opportunities will be taken advantage of in key games.
Follow Chris on Twitter.