After 29 years coaching women's collegiate golf, Alabama head coach Mic Potter and his Crimson Tide program are National Champions. Senior Brooke Pancake made a fantastic two-putt for par on the par-5 18th hole to secure Alabama's first national championship outside of football and women's gymnastics. Pancake's 60-foot birdie putt on the 18th hit the hole and went 4-foot past the hole. She then calmly knocked in the par putt to secure the one-shot win over Southern California. "When I was standing over (the putt), I kind of had the feeling of, 'This is my moment I've put four years into it, and I can't think of a better way to finish my senior year," Pancake said.
For much of the first three days, it looked as if there was no way the second-ranked Alabama women's golf team could lose the national championship. Late in the final round of the NCAA Championships on Friday, it looked as if there was no way the Crimson Tide could win. Then it looked like there was no way it could lose. In the end, senior All-American Brooke Pancake sank a 4-foot putt for par, giving the Tide a one-shot victory over third-ranked USC. And just like that, Alabama had its first national championship in a sport other than football or gymnastics.
"I had a lot of confidence (Brooke) was going to make it, so I don’t think I was real surprised, but definitely I was relieved," Potter said. "I don’t think it has quite sunk in yet, but it was a lot of fun. I have a lot of confidence in these girls, so I knew it was a definite possibility, but golf is a game where we could play as well as we could and still not win. To me it was all about keeping with the process and making sure we saved every shot we could today. "It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I’m sure tomorrow it will be a dream come true."
The Crimson Tide gave coach Mic Potter his first national title and first for a program in its seventh trip to the national tournament when senior Brooke Pancake rolled in a 4-footer for par on No. 18. It’s the third national title this year for Alabama, which also won in football and women’s gymnastics, and sixth for the Southeastern Conference. "Coach (Nick) Saban practices at our practice facility all the time," Potter said of the coach who has two national football titles at Alabama. "I feel more on his level."
Alabama's dream of picking up its first national championship was extended Friday when the Crimson Tide's hitters woke up at the most opportune time against Michigan lefthander Haylie Wagner. With centerfielder Jennifer Fenton on first and the Crimson Tide trailing 3-1 in the fifth, shortstop Kaila Hunt, who had one of two Alabama errors in Michigan's two-run second inning, sent Wagner's first pitch over the scoreboard in left-center field. The two-run home run was her 20th of the season and gave her 74 RBIs on the year, making her five short of Alabama single-season records in each category. "I know that I made mistakes, so I needed to step up for my team," said Hunt, who was quick to pat Murphy on the back when he choked up during the post-game press conference. "She gave me the pitch, and I just took advantage of it."
Alabama players, however, aren't done. Having already won the Southeastern Conference regular-season title and the SEC tournament championship, they want to add to the trophy case. "We have the talent and everybody's on the same page," Braud said. "When that happens, we have a really, really good chance of winning it. "And that's the thing: when you got to the World Series, it's whoever plays the best -- not the team that's best, but who's playing the best. It's up for grabs. We haven't peaked yet. I think we're on our way."
Traina (37-2) then settled in to finish off Michigan following a rocky start. Four of her five strikeouts came in the final three innings after giving up a solo homer in the first and two unearned runs in the second. "I came out and wasn’t throwing the best pitches I could throw," Traina said. "My team gets me fired up, and when I got out there on the mound, I put my foot down and said to myself this is not going to happen."
More post game video available at TideSports.com
2013 verbal commitments: 14
Spotlight: Quarterback Cooper Bateman of Salt Lake City is the No. 6 pocket-passer in the 2013 class, and he became very important for the Crimson Tide once Phillip Sims decided to transfer to Virginia this spring.
ESPN 150 members: 8 (ILB Reuben Foster of Auburn, Ala.; TE-H of O.J. Howard of Prattville, Ala.; RB Altee Tenpenny of North Little Rock, Ark.; QB-PP Cooper Bateman of Salt Lake City, Utah; RB Tyren Jones of Marietta, Ga.; DE Jonathan Allen of Ashburn, Va.; OG Andy Dodd of Lindale, Ga.; ATH ArDarius Stewart of Birmingham, Ala.)
LSU has traded the toughest schedule in college football a year ago for a much more manageable one in 2012. The Tigers tackled both Oregon and West Virginia away from home last season. Their toughest nonconference test this season is Washington at home. They don't play back-to-back road games all season. It's also a big advantage for LSU to have a bye the week before the Alabama game, especially with the Crimson Tide playing the week before against Mississippi State and then having to travel to Baton Rouge. LSU will get Alabama at night, too, and the Tigers take it to another level on Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
AJ McCarron, QB, Alabama: It’s safe to say that McCarron has already proved himself on a big stage. He was outstanding last season in the BCS title game win over LSU with his poise, decision-making and accuracy. The Crimson Tide did a nice job of not putting too much on McCarron’s shoulders during the season. That’s going to change some as he enters his junior season. Alabama will look to stretch the field more in 2012. McCarron has an NFL-caliber arm, and teams will gear their defenses more to stop him in 2012. We’ll see if he can pick up where he left off in New Orleans and sustain that level of play for the entire season.
The big questions in football scheduling starting in 2013: Who matches up with whom as permanent partners, how will other cross-division teams be rotated, and how far out will the SEC make this schedule? Templeton said the format appears to be the 6-1-1 model, meaning a team plays six divisional games, one permanent cross-division opponent and one rotating cross-division team. That's what's being used in 2012. Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia should be safe as rivals. Kentucky-Mississippi State, South Carolina-Arkansas and LSU-Florida are permanent games that could be switched. Presidents at South Carolina and Texas A&M previously said their schools will become permanent partners. That could leave Arkansas and Missouri to play annually. "I've been around this (SEC) group enough to know that when they get together for four days there's a lot of things that change from Tuesday to Friday," Templeton said, chuckling. "But I wouldn't look for a lot of change in the permanents if truly the 6-1-1 is what we end up with."
Kentucky coach Paul W. Bryant poses with two of his Wildcat players Harry (46) and Larry (21) Jones in late December 1950. The identical twins were both halfbacks on the No. 7 ranked Kentucky team that beat No. 1 Oklahoma 13-7 in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day 1951. During games, the twins wore the numbers 1A and 1B and would regularly set up together in the backfield.