SOFTBALL: No. 1 Bama opens season with sweep

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa | The top-ranked University of Alabama softball team earned two wins on the opening day of the UNI-Dome Classic on Friday, downing Illinois 7-2 in the opener and sinking host Northern Iowa, 8-1.
Crimson Tide freshman Haylie McCleney made quite a collegiate debut, reaching base six times in two games, going 4-for-6 with three runs, an RBI and two stolen bases.
In the first game, s six-run third inning proved to be the difference, with senior Keima Davis supplying the brunt of the damage with a grand slam in the win against Illinois.
The big inning started with an RBI double down the rightfield line by Courtney Conley that plated pinch-runner Kallie Case.
Junior Jordan Patterson then drew a bases loaded walk before Davis drilled a line-drive shot that snuck just inside the left field foul pole to clear the bases.
After making a diving grab in shallow center that she turned into a double play, freshman Haylie McCleney scored the first run of the season on a comebacker to the pitcher off the bat of junior Kaila Hunt in the first inning.
Sophomore pitcher Leslie Jury went the distance, allowing two runs - one earned on four hits while striking out six and walking three.
Conley led the offensive attack for the Tide with a 2-for-3 effort. McCleney reached base three times in four at-bats, with a single, stolen base and two walks.
In the second game, junior ace Jackie Traina struck out 12 and allowed one run on three hits in the 8-1 win against Northern Iowa in her season debut.
McCleney continued her hot play, going 3-for-4 with two runs, a stolen base and RBI. Hunt also went 3-for-4, scoring three times and driving in two.