'American Idol' to Crown Winner in Country Contest

By LYNN ELBER | May 25, 2011 | 10:43 AM EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Could the sympathy vote be a factor in the battle of the "American Idol" teenage country crooners?

The 16-year-old Lauren Alaina required medical treatment after she injured a vocal cord during rehearsals for Tuesday's performance show. She soldiered on with three tunes, drawing high praise from the Fox show's judges.

But it's up to viewers to choose between Alaina of Rossville, Ga., and Scotty McCreery of Garner, N.C. The results will be announced on Wednesday's two-hour finale, airing at 8 p.m. EDT.

Songbird Alaina of Rossville, Ga., most impressed the judging panel with "Like My Mother Does." Jennifer Lopez said it might have sealed her victory.

McCreery, a deep-voiced 17-year-old, scored with "Gone."

Backstage Tuesday, judge Randy Jackson was cautious about predicting an outcome, saying McCreery came in with a winning edge but Alaina sang "brilliantly."