TUSCALOOSA REGIONAL

RESULTS

At Rhoads Stadium

Friday

Game 1, Wisconsin 9, Oregon State 3 (8 innings)

Game 2, Alabama 8, Middle Tennessee State 0 (6 innings)

Saturday

Game 3, Alabama 9, Wisconsin 1 (5 innings)

Game 4, Oregon State 4, Middle Tennessee State 0

Game 5, Oregon State 5, Wisconsin 1

Sunday

Game 6, Alabama 6, Oregon State 0

 

DAY THREE RECAP

The final day of the Tuscaloosa Regional went like the final day of softball regionals hosted by the Alabama Crimson Tide have gone for the last 14 years, with Alabama winning.

The Crimson Tide won its 37th consecutive game in NCAA Tournament regional play to claim its 14th regional title in a row. Alabama defeated Oregon State to advance to super regional play next weekend.

The Game

Score: Alabama 6, Oregon State 0

What happened: After a three-hour delay induced by a lightning strike just before the game’s originally scheduled start, Alabama came out hot when play finally began. Elissa Brown drew a leadoff walk in the first inning and moved to second on Demi Turner’s single. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third base and Bailey Hemphill doubled in two runs.

Brown and Turner singled in runs in the fifth inning and Merris Schroder hit a two-run home run in the sixth.

The star: Alexis Osorio, the Crimson Tide’s senior ace, carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up a single, the only hit she allowed on the day.

Player of the Day

Osorio struck out nine batters with just two walks. She walked a batter in the second and retired 11 in a row before she retired another. She was in command from the start and was ahead in the count consistently.

Play of the Day

After Oregon State drew a leadoff walk to start the bottom of the fifth inning, Alabama catcher Reagan Dykes threw the runner out on a steal attempt.

Quotes of the Day

“I feel like everything now is kind of coming together and working for us.”

– Alabama first baseman Bailey Hemphill

“The first inning was textbook: the two (at the top of the order on), sacrifice, boom – double by Bailey to score them both.”

– Alabama coach Patrick Murphy

“I’m excited for them to have this kind of experience, to come here and play in this kind of atmosphere, this kind of pressure. Obviously playing in the conference we play in, that’s pressure, but this is a different type of pressure.”

– Oregon State coach Laura Berg

 

 

 

DAY TWO RECAP


By Tommy Deas, Executive Sports Editor

The second day of the Tuscaloosa Regional was even longer than expected Saturday, thanks in large part to a weather delay of more than three hours that started in the second inning of the first of three games on the schedule.

By the time it had all played out at Rhoads Stadium, Alabama had extended its streak of consecutive regional victories to 36 games to advance to Sunday’s championship round and Oregon State had played its way through to the final.

After a lot of high-level softball, two teams remain. One will advance to the super regional round of the NCAA Tournament. By virtue of staying in the winner’s bracket, Alabama will make its 14th straight super regional trip unless it loses twice to the Beavers.

The Games

Score: Alabama 9, Wisconsin 1 (5 innings)

What happened: Neither team scored until after the long weather delay, and Alabama took command with a three-run outburst in the third inning highlighted by Bailey Hemphill’s two-run home run. The Crimson Tide broke it open with six runs in the fifth, with catcher Reagan Dykes blasting a three-run homer.

Senior ace Alexis Osorio (14-9) allowed her first earned run in regional play in her career but otherwise shut down the Badgers in a commanding performance.

The star: Osorio allowed one run on one hit with seven strikeouts, and importantly issued just one walk. Alabama coach Patrick Murphy revealed after the game that a forearm injury has limited her in practice for some time, and she was recently cleared by the school’s medical staff to throw all her pitches on a daily basis. If this is the Osorio that Alabama has going forward, the Crimson Tide is a threat to go far in the postseason.

Records: Alabama 35-18, Wisconsin 29-22

Score: Oregon State 4, Middle Tennessee 0

What happened: The Beavers got a run in the first inning and another in the third, and finally chased Middle Tennessee State starter Cori Jennings (21-11) in the seventh with a two-run outburst for insurance.

Meehra Nelson (16-10) held the Blue Raiders to two hits with one walk and three strikeouts to make the runs hold up as Oregon State survived an elimination game.

The star: Outfielder Shelby Weeks went 3-for-3 and scored three runs, while also putting down a sacrifice bunt. Her production in the No. 2 spot in the batting order was a key for Oregon State.

Records: Oregon State 29-27, Middle Tennessee 39-22

 

Score: Oregon State 5, Wisconsin 1

What happened: The Beavers had a 1-0 lead before Wisconsin allowed three runs in the third inning, with two of them coming on a three-error meltdown on one play.

Hope Brandner hit a solo home run to give Oregon State its early lead and Camryn Ybarra added a solo shot in the fifth for insurance. Wisconsin rallied for a run in the bottom of the seventh.

The star: Right-handed pitcher Mariah Mazon (11-18) held Wisconsin to three hits in a complete-game win. She struck out eight batters with four walks to eliminate the Badgers.

Records: Oregon State 30-27, Wisconsin 29-22

 

Game of the Day

There wasn’t a super-competitive contest, but credit Middle Tennessee State left-hander Cori Jennings for giving the Blue Raiders a chance against Oregon State’s Pac-12 talent. Although MTSU was shut out and only had one hit in the first six innings, Jennings scattered hits and only gave up two runs in the first six innings. The Beavers finally got to her in the seventh and final inning.

Player of the Day

Alabama catcher Reagan Dykes hit a three-run home run, turned a double play to end one inning and threw out a base-stealer to end another. She was a force on offense and defense.

Play of the Day

It was a lowlight, not a highlight, but an incredible turn of bad execution and decisions gave Oregon State two runs in the top of the second inning of its elimination semifinal against Wisconsin on a play that produced three errors.


McKenna Arriola put down a routine sacrifice bunt with a runner on first and no outs. Wisconsin catcher Melanie Cross threw too far inside the baseline and the ball bounded into right field for the first error. A throw by the right fielder to try to get the lead runner was off line, allowing that run to score as the throw home after the ball was retrieved was too late.

But the play wasn’t over yet. Cross made another errant throw to third base to try to get Arriola, allowing her to come all the way home to increase the Beavers’ lead to 3-0.

Biggest surprise

Oregon State fell apart at the end of its opening game on Friday to lose to Wisconsin, but the Badgers collected themselves after losing by six runs to win back-to-back games to make it to the regional championship round.

While Oregon State did arrive as the regional’s second seed, shaking off a bad finish to play with such confidence was eye-opening.

Quotes of the Day

“People know that Middle Tennessee State softball exists and that they’re really good.”

– Outfielder Precious Birdsong on what the Blue Raiders accomplished in making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002

“Big-time players come through in the clutch.”

– Alabama coach Patrick Murphy

DAY ONE RECAP

By Tommy Deas, Executive Sports Editor

The opening day of the Tuscaloosa Regional at Rhoads Stadium was a long one, thanks to extra innings in the first game followed immediately by a lightning delay that pushed the start of Alabama’s opener back more than an hour after its scheduled time. It started with an upset in the first game and ended near midnight with a run-rule victory for the host Crimson Tide.
The Games
Score: Wisconsin 9, Oregon State 3 (8 innings)

What happened: The Badgers spotted Oregon State, the second-seeded team in the regional, an early 3-0 lead but didn’t lose their composure. They came back to tie it in the top of the seventh inning and poured on six runs in the eighth to complete the upset.

Third baseman Taylor Johnson doubled in three runs in the final inning to break the game open. Outfielder Jordan Little’s two-run home run in the fifth inning was key and the Badgers loaded the bases to get across the tying run in the seventh. Kelsey Jenkins went 2-for-4 with the tying RBI. Reliever Kaitlyn Menz (12-13) held the Beavers scoreless on three hits in five innings of work for the win.
McKenna Arriola doubled and tripled for Oregon State and Alysha Everette went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs.
Wisconsin advanced to play in the winner’s bracket Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The star: Little came into the NCAA Tournament with a .100 batting average. She hit a towering shot that bounced off the top of the scoreboard in left field to get Wisconsin back into the game.
Records: Wisconsin 29-21, Oregon State 28-27
Score: Alabama 8, Middle Tennessee State 0 (6 innings)
What happened: Alabama scored two runs in the first inning, added five in the fifth and ended it with a walk-off home run off the bat of senior third baseman Peyton Grantham.
Bailey Hemphill went 2 for 3 with a double and three RBIs. The top four batters in the lineup went 6 for 10.
Courtney Gettins (14-4) gave up a double to the first batter she faced but allowed only four more hits with four strikeouts and two walks.
The star: Hemphill had the big bat, but leadoff hitter Elissa Brown went 1-for-2, reached when she was hit by a pitch, stole two bases and scored two runs.
Records: Alabama 34-18, Middle Tennessee 39-21
Game of the Day
Wisconsin defeated Oregon State with an emphatic finish, loading the bases and pushing across a game-tying run in the seventh to force extra innings, then loading them again in the eighth to erupt for six runs for the win.
Player of the Day
Oregon State first baseman Alysha Everett went 3 for 3 with a home run and a walk, driving in three runs in a losing effort.
Play of the Day

Wisconsin shortstop Brooke Wyderski saved the game for the Badgers in the bottom of the seventh inning when she ranged to her right, leaped and reached her glove high in the air to snag the ball to rob Oregon State of a game-winning hit.

Biggest surprise

Wisconsin didn’t have a hit after three innings and its starting pitcher didn’t make it to the fourth, but the Badgers surged back to load the bases and tie up its game with Oregon in the seventh inning. They carried that momentum into the eighth and didn’t stop until they had scored six runs to put the game away.

Quotes of the Day
“Just a great crowd. I’m really pleased that everyone stayed, because it was good energy,”
– Alabama coach Patrick Murphy on the 1,862 fans who stayed until almost midnight
“I don’t know if it was the moment of being in the region finally sank in, whatever, a little bit of pressure, but we surely didn’t get timely hits.”
– Middle Tennessee State coach Jeff Breeden
REGIONAL PREVIEWS

Alabama riding momentum into postseason

By Tommy Deas, Executive Sports Editor

Alabama softball feels the heat going into the Tuscaloosa Regional.

That heat is self-generated.

The Crimson Tide has won six of its last nine games, with each of those contests against nationally-ranked teams, going into the postseason. UA closed its season strong to earn the No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and wants to carry that level of play into its quest to reach the Women’s College World Series.

“I didn’t want to peak in February,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “You don’t want to peak in March, because then we wouldn’t be sitting here. They did exactly what I wanted them to do.”

Alabama took some lumps in SEC play: losing two out of three to Auburn, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia, winning two out of three against Ole Miss and Kentucky and closing out the regular season with a three-game sweep of Texas A&M to start its momentum going into the postseason.

“That was our message all season, peak at the right time and get hot at the end,” freshman outfielder Kaylee Tow said. “So all the things we went through were leading us to here.”

Said sophomore outfielder Elissa Brown, “We started off a little bit struggling, but we’re on the rise and we’re really excited for the rest of the season. We’re ready to see where this postseason leads us.”

It will be all hands on deck for Alabama in the regional, Murphy said.

“Every pitcher will be ready from now on, every game,” he said. “Everybody on the bench will have a clue on whether they might be a pinch runner or a pinch hitter or a defensive replacement.”

Alabama is hosting a regional for the 14th straight season. Tow, a freshman, will be experiencing it for the first time. The upperclassmen prepare the youngsters for what to expect.

“Basically they were just telling us to just soak up every moment that we’re going to have,” Tow said. “You only get four NCAA Tournaments (in your career) if you’re lucky.”

Blue Raiders living a dream

By Tommy Deas, Executive Sports Editor

Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy has watched Middle Tennessee State’s rise under Jeff Breeden.

The Blue Raiders, picked to finish 11th in Conference USA, won the league tournament to garner an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. MTSU will face Alabama on Friday in an opening-round game in the Tuscaloosa Regional.

“It was really neat to see them, because when Jeff started there I think they won seven games and now this year he’s at 39,” Murphy said. “I think it was the first time they’d even been to the conference tournament, and to win it is pretty cool for them.”

Breeden is in his sixth year with the Blue Raiders. He was a successful high school coach who ranks in the top 20 nationally in career wins and claimed a state title at Murfreesboro Riverdale High School.

Before he took the job, he split coaching duties between softball and football at the high school level.

“I was a local high school coach for 23 years at a couple different places in Middle Tennessee,” Breeden said. “This job came open and it was intriguing to me. I always wanted to see what I could do at the collegiate level, and Middle was always a place I wanted to go.”

Middle Tennessee State is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002.

“It’s still a surreal feeling, something that you once-upon-a-time dreamed of,” said outfielder Precious Birdsong. “Now it’s an actual reality.”

Oregon State ready for battle

By Cameron Greenwood 

Calling the Oregon State Beavers battle-tested would be an understatement. On the road to making their third straight appearance in an NCAA regional, the Beavers faced ranked opponents 31 times.

Oregon State was 26-26 going into its last weekend of play and needed two wins to qualify for a chance at the postseason. The Beavers grabbed two victories over Utah with some clutch hitting, securing their eligibility for a NCAA regional berth.

Oregon State (28-26) takes on Wisconsin on Friday at 6 p.m. for the first game of the Tuscaloosa Regional.

Oregon State head coach Laura Berg believes her team is ready for the challenge of playing in front of the Tuscaloosa home crowd.

“It’s something we put them in front of. We went to LSU for a tournament this year so it’s something they’ve been in front of,” Berg said. “It’s something as an athlete that you want to play in front of a large crowd, that’s why you play athletics.”

The Beavers lost several close matchups this season but have victories over top-seeded Oregon and eighth-seeded Arizona State. Berg believes her team needs to clean up its errors after making 79 on the season.

“We’ve got to play catch,” Berg said. “We can’t give them extra outs and we haven’t been doing a very good job of taking care of the ball so we just need to go out and play catch.”

Badgers like life on the road

By Cameron Greenwood 

The Wisconsin Badgers spent selection Sunday in chilly Madison, Wisconsin, sweating it out as they hoped to make it to an NCAA tournament regional.

The Badgers made it for the second straight season and were selected to play the Oregon State Beavers in the Tuscaloosa Regional.

Both Wisconsin and senior Kelsey Jenkins are riding hot streaks into the regional. The Badgers have won 12 of their last 17 games, scoring 86 runs in their victories.

Jenkins bat has batted .706 to close the regular season in her last 17 at-bats. Jenkins’ success is not just a recent phenomenon she lead the Big Ten in batting average (.420) and on-base percentage (.578).

“Kelsey’s been tremendous,” Wisconsin coach Yvette Healy said. “She’s meant a lot to the program. To have a player like her who came in as just a great left-handed hitter and a great defensive kid, she has just grown tremendously: To see her go from a nice player to one of the elite players in our conference, she’s a great leader.”

The Badgers are no strangers to playing on the road, playing just 12 home games all year.

“You know you’re going to be a road dog most of the season and I think that us coming to Alabama to play on the road again is maybe a little different climate than we are used to, but we are used to playing on the road and that mentality just comes more natural to us compared to some other teams,” Jenkins said.

Wisconsin (28-21) plays Oregon State (28-26) on Friday at 6 p.m. in the first game of the Tuscaloosa Regional.

Tuscaloosa Regional Team Breakdowns

By Cameron Greenwood

Alabama

Location: Tuscaloosa

Enrollment: 38,563

Nickname: Crimson Tide

Record: 33-18

Ranking: No. 13

Bid: At large

National seed: No. 12

Tuscaloosa Regional seed: No. 1

Head coach: Patrick Murphy

Team batting average: .276

Home runs: 47

RBIs: 226

Steals: 54

Earned run average: 2.49

Strikeouts: 309

Walks: 203

Top hitters: Elissa Brown (.345, 0 HR, 13 RBI), Gabby Callaway (.313, 4 HR, 31 RBI), Bailey Hemphill (.333, 12 HR, 41 RBI), Kaylee Tow (.350, 11 HR, 31 RBI)

Top pitchers: Courtney Gettins (13-4, 2.50 ERA, 62 SO, 54 BB), Alexis Osorio (13-9, 2.22 ERA, 203 SO, 112 BB), Madison Preston (7-5, 3.04 ERA, 44 SO, 37 BB)

 

Middle Tennessee State

Location: Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Enrollment: 21,792

Nickname: Blue Raiders

Record: 39-20

Ranking: Unranked

Bid: Automatic (Conference USA tournament champions)

National seed: Unseeded

Tuscaloosa Regional seed: No. 4

Head coach: Jeff Breeden

Team batting average: .304

Home runs: 35

RBIs: 234

Steals: 93

Earned run average: 2.895

Strikeouts: 219

Walks: 123

Top Hitters: Precious Birdsong (.382, 2 HR, 21 RBI), Summer Burgess (.367, 0 HR, 17 RBI), Lexi Cushing (.335, 14 HR, 48 RBI), Morgan Harris (.345, 4 HR, 39 RBI)

Top Pitchers: Amber Baldwin (10-8, 3.06 ERA, 46 SO, 34 BB), Cori Jennings (21-9, 2.23 ERA, 107 SO, 57 BB)

 

Oregon State

Location: Corvallis, Oregon

Enrollment: 30,896

Nickname: Beavers

Record: 28-26

Ranking: Unranked

Bid: At large

National seed: Unseeded

Tuscaloosa Regional seed: No. 2

Head coach: Laura Berg

Team batting average: .264

Home runs: 31

RBIs: 182

Steals: 46

Earned run average: 2.87

Strikeouts: 272

Walks: 148

Top Hitters: Hope Brandner (.300, 11 HR, 34 RBI), Alysha Everett (.304, 4 HR, 20 RBI), Jessica Garcia (.293, 0 HR, 17 RBI), Shelby Weeks (.285, 2 HR, 15 RBI)

Top pitchers: Mariah Mazon (11-16, 2.92 ERA, 132 SO, 56 BB), Meehra Nelson (15-10, 2.50 ERA, 113 SO, 49 BB)

 

Wisconsin

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Enrollment: 43,820

Nickname: Badgers

Record: 28-21

Ranking: Unranked

Bid: At large

National seed: Unseeded

Tuscaloosa Regional seed: No. 3

Head coach: Yvette Healy

Team batting average: .265

Home runs: 31

RBIs: 208

Steals: 75

Earned run average: 3.79

Strikeouts: 215

Walks: 108

Top Hitters: Melanie Cross (.268, 4 HR, 28 RBI), Kelsey Jenkins (.415, 3 HR, 32 RBI), Taylor Johnson (.299, 8 HR, 28 RBI), Brooke Wyderski (.358, 6 HR, 42 RBI)

Top pitchers: Haley Hestekin (17-6, 2.45 ERA, 92 SO, 38 BB), Kaitlyn Menz (11-13, 4.23 ERA, 106 SO, 53 BB)

 

 

 

 

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