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Softball: Cardinal and Crimson Tide contend for trip to College World Series

The Stanford softball team heads to Tuscaloosa, Ala., this weekend to clash with the Alabama Crimson Tide in a best-of-three series with a trip to the Women’s College World Series on the line.

After sweeping its way through the regional with victories over Pacific, Fresno State and Nebraska, Stanford (41-15) looks to punch its ticket to its first College World Series since 2004.

The Stanford softball team heads south this weekend to play the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA Super Regionals with a trip to the Women's College World Series on the line. (SIMON WARBY/The Stanford Daily)

The Cardinal will, once again, lean heavily on junior shortstop Ashley Hansen, who hit .400 this past weekend, scored three runs and drove in three RBI. She was named one of the three finalists for the Amateur Softball Association of America’s National Player of the Year award on Wednesday.

Hansen leads the nation in doubles per game (0.45), ranks second in batting average (.500) and eighth in on-base percentage (.562). Hansen leads the Pac-10 in batting average, on-base percentage, hits and doubles. She is the first Cardinal player ever to be named one of the three finalists for the award.

Stanford also got solid weekends in the regional from sophomore Jenna Rich, who had four of the team’s nine RBI, and sophomore pitcher Teagan Gerhart, who shut down the opposing offenses all weekend while posting a 0.67 ERA and going 3-0.

The No. 2 seed Crimson Tide (49-8) pounded its way through the Tuscaloosa Regional, dominating Jackson State, Memphis and Chattanooga with 8-0, 7-1 and 11-2 victories.

The win was the seventh straight regional victory for the Tide. The program has advanced to the College World Series four times in the last six years.

Senior Whitney Larsen leads Alabama offensively, as she batted .700 with four runs, a double, triple and nine RBI in the NCAA Regional. The Tide also impresses on the mound, as freshman pitcher Jackie Traina pitched a no-hitter against Jackson State in the first game of the regional, allowing just one runner to reach base on an infield error.

The Cardinal and Crimson Tide play the first game of a best-of-three series Thursday at 5 p.m. PST in Tuscaloosa.