Alabama plated four runs and forced a Tennessee pitching change before the Lady Volunteers recorded an out Thursday night at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.
By then, the lead was too much for Tennessee to overcome.
Two-seed Alabama (56-7) held on for a 5-3 victory in the opening round of the double-elimination Women’s College World Series.
“The Alabama team deserves credit,” UT co-head coach Ralph Weekly said. “They came out on fire and attacking the ball. But I’m still proud of our kids. I think that we fought the whole game, and I think after the first inning, it could have been a lot worse except that our kids fought and fought and hung in there. You know, this is the World Series. People have asked me about all kinds of different excuses. There are no excuses. That was a softball game. We played hard, they played hard, and they came out on top.”
No. 7 seed Tennessee (52-13) falls to the losers’ bracket where it’ll play Oregon in an elimination game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. EST.
It’s the Lady Vols fifth WCWS appearance in eight years, and first since 2010.
Tennessee starting pitcher Ivy Renfroe gave up four runs (three earned) on two hits and two walks before being replaced by her younger sister, Ellen Renfroe, with no outs in the bottom of the first inning. Ellen Renfroe got the Lady Vols out of the frame, allowing no further damage after the Crimson Tide left the bases loaded.
Ellen Renfroe pitched 3.1 innings in relief, allowing a run on two hits with three walks.
Ivy Renfroe re-entered the game after Alabama scored a run in the fourth inning.
Tennessee left fielder Melissa Davin cut the Crimson Tide lead in half with a two-run home run in the top of the second inning. It was her eighth long ball of the season.
The Lady Vols added another run in the seventh inning when All-American third baseman Raven Chavanne singled-in Davin, but Alabama pitcher Jackie Traina struck out the next two Lady Vols batters to end the game.
Traina threw a complete game, scattering five hits and giving up three walks.
“That was a dominating performance by Jackie Traina,” Weekly said. “She did a fantastic job.”
With the win, Traina improves to 38-2 on the season, while Ivy Renfroe, who pitched 2.2 innings, drops to 25-9 on the year.
Tennessee and Alabama split a double-header in Tuscaloosa on March 21.
The Lady Vols reached the WCWS after beating Georgia in the Knoxville Super Regional last weekend and winning five straight games in the Knoxville Regional two weekends ago after Tennessee lost its opening game of the NCAA Tournament.