Alabama tops Oregon, advances to title series
OKLAHOMA CITY — Jackie Traina threw a four-hitter to help Alabama beat Oregon 2-0 on Sunday and advance to the best-of-three Women's College World Series championship series against Southeastern Conference rival Florida.
Alabama took two out of three from the Gators during the regular season. They will meet again tonight.
"I think it's a very respectful rivalry," Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. "Everyone respects the heck out of them. I don't think it's a nasty rivalry."
Alabama scored twice in the bottom of the fifth inning, and that was all Traina needed. She struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.
"For Jackie to shut out that offense is incredible," Murphy said. "You've got to tip your hat to Jack and our defense."
Haylie McCleney homered in the bottom of the fifth inning to break a scoreless tie, but the second run wasn't as clear. Molly Fichtner connected for a single with two outs, and Kaila Hunt went for home. Hunt made a move in an attempt to score, and it was ruled that she avoided a tag on a throw that got there first.
"I had a pretty good view," Oregon coach Mike White said. "I know the ball quickly beat her by a long way. Got the tag on her. If it was 50-50, she should be out in my opinion. If the ball beats you, you should be out, I don't care how close it was. It's just a shame it couldn't have been a one-run game going into the last inning."
Hunt believed the right call was made.
"There was no hesitation, and the catcher started to come across the plate, so I just tried to go to the inside," she said. "It was kind of awkward, because I usually try to go to the outside part of the plate. So I don't know, I haven't seen the replay, but it felt pretty awkward."
Alabama took that 2-0 lead into the top of the seventh, and the Ducks had one last shot. Oregon's Kailee Cuico hit a single that brought the tying run to the plate with no outs. Janelle Lindvall put one over the left-field fence, but it barely sailed foul, and she struck out looking on the next pitch.
Koral Costa singled with two outs to keep the Ducks alive, but Traina struck out the final batter.
"Jackie, she is throwing awesome," Fichtner said. "She is hitting her spots, doing everything we need her to."