ONTO OKC! Alabama Softball headed to its 15th Women’s College World Series

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Alabama defeated Tennessee 4-1 Saturday to punch its ticket to its 15th Women’s College World Series. (UA Athletics)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For the 15th time in program history, Alabama softball will be heading to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City after defeating Tennessee, 4-1, Sunday in a winner-take-all game three in the Knoxville Super Regional round.

Alabama will open play at the Women’s College World Series Thursday, May 30 against No. 6 seed UCLA at 11 a.m. CT on ESPN.

The series win is Alabama’s (38-18) 13th in the Super Regional era but just its second on the road, having previously defeated Texas A&M in two games in College Station in 2005, the first year of the current postseason format. Third-ranked Tennessee (44-12) is the highest seed the Crimson Tide has defeated in Super Regionals and it marks the fourth time Alabama has rallied from a game one loss to take the series, previously doing so against Stanford (2011), Oklahoma (2015) and Northwestern (2023).

With two out in the top of the first, a Kenleigh Cahalan single followed by a pair of hit-by-pitches loaded the bases for Riley Valentine, who sent the second pitch of her at-bat over the fence in left for a grand slam to give the Tide the early 4-0 lead. Before the start of the bottom half of the inning, lightning in the area forced a nearly three-hour rain delay before play resumed. Upon resumption, Jocelyn Briski (10-5) and the Tide defense held the Lady Vol offense at bay, taking the 4-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh. The SEC regular season champions didn’t go down quietly, putting two in scoring position before a bunt single drove in a run to erase the shutout. Later with two on and one out, Kayla Beaver entered in relief and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. A popup in foul territory went for out number two before a groundout to Cahalan at short ended the game.

Briski threw 6.1 innings with just one run allowed on four hits to earn the win while Beaver secured the final two outs for her fifth save of the season. Cahalan was 3-for-3 batting at the cleanup spot, while Valentine’s four RBIs tied her season high, all coming off her second grand slam of the season.

From Head Coach Patrick Murphy

“The word for me the last few weeks has been ‘redemption’. We had our first losing season in SEC play in 28 years. I kept preaching to the team that the best was yet to come. We had to believe it and that belief started with me. One day at practice everybody said one thing they were going to do to help the team win down the stretch. Mine was to have a short-term memory. I tend to dwell so I committed to it that day. The team bought in too. Now we’re heading to our 15th Women’s College World Series. I said last year was my most gratifying year but I have to say it again this year. I could not be happier for our team, the University and our athletic department. A lot of Alabama Softball fans weren’t sure about this year but the true fans stuck with us.”

From Graduate Pitcher Kayla Beaver

“I can’t even describe this feeling right now. I can’t be prouder of everybody on this team. This moment was something I had dreamt of and I get to do it with my sisters. Going out there in the seventh, I knew the defense had my back and I just had to trust myself, Lance [McMahon], Murph and everyone. They had confidence in me so I had no reason not to have confidence in myself. I couldn’t do what I do without them.”

Highlights

  • Alabama will be making its 15th appearance at the Women’s College World Series, including three of the last four seasons
  • The Crimson Tide has won 13 out of 18 Super Regional rounds it has played in
  • This was just the second Super Regional road win for Alabama, previously doing so in 2005 at Texas A&M
  • No. 3 seed Tennessee is the highest seeded team the Tide has defeated in Super Regionals
  • It is the fourth time Alabama has bounced back from a game one loss to win the Super Regional series, doing so in 2011 vs. Stanford, 2015 vs. Oklahoma and 2023 vs. Northwestern
  • Riley Valentine’s first-inning grand slam was her second this season, previously doing so against Bradley on Feb. 24 in Birmingham at the Green & Gold Classic
  • Kenleigh Cahalan was 3-for-3, her fourth three-hit game of the season

Scoring Summary

  • T1 | Riley Valentine hit a grand slam down the left field line (4-0, 2 Out)
  • B7 | Tennessee erased the shutout with an RBI bunt single (4-1, 0 Out)

Up Next: Women’s College World Series (Oklahoma City)

  • Thursday, May 30 vs. UCLA – 11 a.m. CT – ESPN

For the latest information on the team, follow @AlabamaSB on X/Twitter, BamaSB on Instagram and Alabama Softball on Facebook. General athletic news can also be found at UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and AlabamaAthletics on Facebook.