June 2, 2011COLLEGE PAGE
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Kelsi Dunne threw six shutout innings and Kaila Hunt had an RBI single, lifting second-seeded Alabama to a 1-0 victory against California on Thursday in the opening game of the Women's College World Series.
Dunne (28-4) allowed only an infield single by Britt Vonk in the first inning before being replaced by Jackie Traina to start the seventh. Traina struck out two in a scoreless ninth inning and earned her third save of the season.
Dunne struck out 11 and walked only one to help the Crimson Tide (52-9), who had lost their opening game in each of their previous six appearances at the World Series.
"That's a big ol' monkey off our back," coach Patrick Murphy said. "It's a long time coming. It was a great win.
"In the World Series and postseason, you have to have great pitching and great defense, and you have to come up with a timely hit and today we got all three."
Alabama got its only run against Jolene Henderson (39-9) in the second, when Amanda Locke reached on an infield single to start the inning. She was replaced by pinch-runner Keima Davis, who stole second and third before coming in to score on Hunt's single to left field.
"This is a huge stage," said Hunt, a freshman. "All week, we had talked about not talking this game up. It's just another game that we are playing, just on a bigger stage. We talked about being fearless, not being afraid of anybody."
Alabama will play in the winner's bracket Friday night against the winner of the Baylor-Oklahoma State game.
Cal (44-12) will play the loser in an elimination game Saturday.
"I think our approach is going to change a little it because we are in the losers' bracket, but I think it will only make us better because we're going to be a stronger team when you have to win, when you have nothing else but to win," Henderson said. "It pushes you harder to want to get those hits, to want to keep going."