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    SEC Softball Today: March 9

    softBALL RESULTS
    Auburn 3, Louisiana Tech 0
    Auburn 3, George Washington 0
    Ole Miss 6, Cal Poly 4
    Stanford 13, Ole Miss 5
    Tennessee 1, Florida 0
    Alabama 3, Kentucky 1
    Arkansas 5, South Carolina 4
    Mississippi State 5, Georgia 3
    LSU 2, Mississippi Valley State 0
    LSU 6, Troy 3

    No. 20/19 Auburn Softball Wins Twice In First Day of War Eagle Classic

    Auburn, Ala.  –  Auburn pitchers Angel Bunner and Lauren Schmalz each threw complete-game shutouts and Elizabeth Eisterhold drove in four of the team’s six runs as the No. 20/19 Tigers beat Louisiana Tech and George Washington by identical 3-0 scores in the first day of the War Eagle Classic.  
                   
    Auburn improved to 18-3 with the wins and will next play Drexel at 10 a.m. and Evansville at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
                   
    “I am really proud of the job our pitchers did today,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “We weren’t great offensively. We never really strung together anything, but we did just enough to get the wins.”
                   
    In two games Friday, Auburn pitchers did not allow a run, did not issue a walk, allowed just four hits and struck out 13 batters.
                   
    In the second game of the day, Caitlin Schultze drove in two runs while Schmalz allowed just three hits in a 3-0 win over George Washington.                

    Schmalz improved to 6-2, allowing one hit in the third inning, one in the sixth inning and one in the bottom of the seventh, in a complete-game effort. Schmalz fanned nine and did not issue a walk.
                   
    Schultze gave the Tiger a 2-0 lead with a two-out, two-run single in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, Elizabeth Eisterhold singled and then moved to third on a double to the wall in center by Amber Harrison. After a two-out walk to McKenzie Kilpatrick, Schultze took a 1-2 pitch through the left side to score Eisterhold and Harrison to give the Tigers the lead.
                   
    Eisterhold picked up her fourth RBI of the day with an RBI single that scored Brooke Lathan in the top of the fifth inning. Lathan reached on a one-out single and quickly moved into scoring position when she stole second base. With two outs, Eisterhold laced a single to left-center to score Lathan and push the Auburn lead to 3-0.
                   
    Schmalz would make the lead hold over the final two innings as the Tigers remained unbeaten at home this season, improving to 10-0.
                   
    Against Louisiana Tech, Elizabeth Eisterhold drove in three runs and pitcher Angel Bunner tossed her fourth shutout of the season as the Tigers won 3-0.
                   
    Bunner improved to 7-0 with the win. Bunner went the distance, giving up just one hit and one walk and striking out four. 
                   
    Michelle Jones (6-5) started and took the loss, going four and one-third innings. Jones allowed three runs, all earned, on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
                   
    Eisterhold gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead with a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of third. With one out, Lauren Guzman drew a walk and was followed by Brooke Lathan who singled sharply up the middle. A ground out by Caitlin Jordan moved the runners to third and second, setting up Eisterhold’s run-scoring double to left-center.
                   
    Eisterhold drove in her third run of the game with a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth. Guzman led off with a single and moved to second when Jordan drew a one-out walk. Eisterhold then laced a hard-hit single down the line in left to score Guzman and give the Tigers a 3-0 lead.
                   
    The Tigers would not score another run in the game, but Bunner would retire the final eight straight Louisiana Tech hitters to complete the 3-0 victory.



    Nimmo's Pinch-Hit Glam Slam Lifts Rebels Over Cal Poly

    PALO ALTO, Calif. – Trailing 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Ole Miss scored six runs, highlighted by a pinch-hit grand slam from sophomore Natalie Nimmo, to posted a come-from-behind 6-4 victory over Cal Poly at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic on Friday. Despite jumping out to a 3-0 lead against No. 10 Stanford, the Rebels dropped game two 13-5 to the host Cardinal.

    Ole Miss will face Colorado State tomorrow at 11 a.m. on day two of the Stanford Louisville Classic before taking on the host Cardinal again at 3:30 p.m.

    Game One

    Pinch-hitter Natalie Nimmo’s grand slam highlighted a six-run sixth inning in the Rebels’ come-from-behind 6-4 victory over Cal Poly.

    Leadoff hitter Corrine Doornberg started the comeback frame with a walk and stole second before moving to third on a Brittany Broome sac bunt. Doornberg then scored on a single up the middle by center fielder RT Cantillo and Londen Ladner followed with single that gave Ole Miss runners on the corners. Shortstop Allison Brown doubled off the wall in right to plate Cantillo and Jayla Hubbard, who entered to pinch run for Ladner, moved to third to put two runners in scoring position. Designated player Erinn Jayjohn then walked to load the bases and set up Nimmo’s game-winning blast.

    It was Nimmo’s first home run of the season and her first career pinch-hit homer. She finished the game with a career-high four RBI. Doornberg added a hit and a walk in two at-bats and scored once.

    “What a great win for us,” said Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees. “We didn’t play well at the start of the game, but we hung in there and gave ourselves a chance to win. I told Natalie to look for her pitch early in the count and she did and was able to knock it out of the park.”

    The Mustangs took  a 3-0 lead in the third when first baseman Madi Voglesang knocked an RBI double to center that plated Kim Westlund, who had walked the at-bat before, and later scored on a two-run single to center from designated player Shea Williams.

    In the bottom of the third, Rebel third baseman Cali Overbeck reached on a single up the middle with one down and moved to second on a bunt single by second baseman Doornberg. However, Ole Miss stranded both runners after a Broome fly out and a Cantillo ground out ended the threat.

    Cal Poly added another run in the fourth after Nora Sobczak singled to start the inning and later moved to second after Westlund reached on a fielding error by Rebel shortstop Allison Brown. Shortstop Ashley Romano then singled to up the middle with two down to drive in Sobczak for the unearned run.

    Senior Kendall Bruning (9-2) earned the complete-game win after allowing four runs, three earned, on eight hits with three strikeouts in 7.0 innings of work.

    Game Two

    The Ole Miss bats came out swinging in the first inning and the Rebels jumped out to 3-0 lead over No. 10 Stanford, but could not hold on as the Rebels fell 13-5 to the host Cardinal in game two of the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic on Friday.

    In the top of the first, second baseman Corrine Doornberg reached on an infield single to start the game and advanced to second on a wild pitch by Cardinal starting pitcher Nyree White. Brittany Broome then walked and advanced to second on a wild-pitch ball four by White to give Ole Miss runners at second and third. Center fielder RT Cantillo smashed a double to the wall in left center to plate both runners and give the Rebels a 2-0 lead. After first baseman Loden Ladner singled through the right side of the infield on the first pitch from Cardinal All-American Teagen Gerhart, freshman shortstop Allison Brown single to center to score Cantillo for Ole Miss’ third run of the inning.

    Stanford cut into the Rebel lead in the bottom of the first after left fielder Leah White singled and later moved to third on a double by designated player Jenna Rich before scoring on a wild pitch from Ole Miss starting pitcher Kelly Chandler. The Cardinal added another run later in the frame after Rich scored from third on an illegal pitch by Chandler. Stanford added another run in the second on an RBI single from White that tied the game at three. Stanford loaded the bases with two outs in the frame, but Ole Miss reliever Erinn Jayjohn got Rich to line out to short to strand all three runners.

    The Cardinal took a 7-3 lead with four runs in the fourth, highlighted by a pair of RBI singles from shortstop Ashley Hansen and left fielder Cory Hanewhich, a bases-loaded walk of Rich and an RBI fielder’s choice from first baseman Tegan Schmidt.

    Ole Miss responded right back in the top of the fifth with a two-run home run deep of over the wall in left center from Ladner that plated Cantillo, who had doubled the at-bat before. It was Ladner’s team-best fourth home run of the season. Ladner went 2-for-3 in the game with two RBI and a run scored, while Cantillo added two hits, two RBI and two runs scored.

    The Cardinal pushed across six more runs in the fifth aided by a two-run single from Hansen and a two-run double from catcher Maya Burns.

    Erinn Jayjohn took the loss after giving up four runs, all earned, on four hits in 2.1 innings. Chandler started for Ole Miss and gave up three earned runs on four hits in 1.2 innings and freshman Lauren Lindsey pitched the final 0.2 innings. She allowed six runs, all earned, on six hits.



    Ellen Renfroe Strikes Out 15 as No. 9 Tennessee Outlasts No. 3 Florida, 1-0

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In front of a sold-out crowd of 1,613 Orange-clad fans on a chilly Friday night at the Lee Softball Stadium, the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (15-3, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) rode a three-hit, season-high 15-strikeout effort from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe in posting a 1-0 victory over #3 Florida (21-2, 2-1 SEC) during the opener of a three-game league series.

    In topping the Gators on Friday night for UT’s ninth consecutive victory, Renfroe (7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 15 K’s) registered her fifth career win over a team ranked either #1, #2 or #3 in the polls and her second such triumph of the 2012 campaign after already shutting out #1 and defending national champion Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz., back on Feb. 11.  The Jackson, Tenn., native also reached the 10-strikeout plateau for the sixth time this season, topping her previous high of 14 K’s done back in a 1-0 victory over Texas Tech on Feb. 10.

    At the plate senior left fielder Shelby Burchell (1-for-3, run) started the decisive rally by leading off the bottom of the seventh with a base knock.  With the Columbia, Tenn., product occupying third with two down, a ball off the bat of UT freshman pinch hitter Hannah Akamine bounced just over the glove of UF pitcher Hannah Rogers before being dropped on a throw from second baseman Katie Medina to first as Burchell raced home with the winning run.

    “I thought both teams fought,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said.  “What you saw tonight was a great pitching achievement by both Ellen Renfroe and UF’s Hannah Rogers, and they were fantastic.  I thought Rogers was throwing really well, and I thought Ellen pitched really well.  When you get in a game like that where the pitchers are red hot, they’re going to shut down the offenses on both teams. I was just proud we came out on top. Florida is a great team that will make adjustments before tomorrow and Sunday.”

    Renfroe opened the top of the opening frame by retiring third baseman Sami Fagan via strikeout and center fielder Michelle Moultrie on a bouncer that junior Melissa Brown handled routinely at first.  That’s when things took a quick Gator turn as designated player Lauren Haeger battled out of a 1-2 hole to reach by a walk.  A fielding error on the Big Orange infield and a single to deep short from Cheyenne Coyle loaded the bases full of Gators with two down.  Renfroe responded by inducing a routine ground ball to third from first baseman Ensley Gammel.  Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne corralled the sphere and made the strong throw to first as Florida left three base runners stranded.

    Chavanne christened Tennessee’s half of the first by drawing a lead-off walk.  With the Thousand Oaks, Calif., native cut down at second on a fielder’s choice off the bat of senior catcher Ashley Andrews, a throwing error on the routine toss back to Rogers in the circle allowed UT’s catcher to scamper into second safely with one down.  A grounder from junior second baseman Lauren Gibson moved the runner to third, but a failed try on a bunt attempt resulted in Andrews getting cut down via a caught stealing to end an eventful frame with no damage done on the scoreboard for either team.

    Tennessee’s sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman wrapped up a quick one-two-three top of the second for the Gators by ranging well to her right behind the third base bag to make a terrific running, back-handed catch of a pop-up from UF left fielder Jess Damico.

    The two pitchers exerted their dominance soon afterwards in settling the contest down.  Rogers struck out the Lady Vol side during the bottom of the second, while Renfroe answered back with her own three consecutive K string in the top of the third.

    The Big Orange got its initial hit of the match-up with one retired in the bottom of the third on a high chopping base knock off the bat of Tarango.  With two outs Chavanne managed a walk and then Andrews managed what amounted to a swinging bunt, loading the bases for Gibson.  Unfortunately, the Pasadena, Md., product’s short pop-up was corralled on the run by shortstop Cheyenne Coyle as UT joined the Gators in leaving the bags packed during the match-up.

    Renfroe continued her dominance from the circle in the top of the fifth, striking out the side for the second time in the game by punching out right fielder Kasey Fagan, second baseman Katie Medina and Damico.

    Tarango kicked off UT’s half of the 5th with a promising double to left, but was soon stranded on the base paths. A bunt attempt by junior Whitney Hammond was popped foul and caught by UF third baseman Sami Fagan for the first out. Chavanne followed with a popup and Andrews grounded out as the runner was stranded in scoring position.

    Fagan got something going for the Gators during the top of the sixth by dropping a perfectly placed bunt to first. Unfazed, Renfroe struck out the side for the third time in the contest, registering K’s against #2-4 hitters Moultrie, Haeger and Horton.

    Gammel became the potential go-ahead run in the top of the seventh by lacing a single through the left side of the infield.  Renfroe responded to the base runner by catching Kasey Fagan and Bailey Castro swinging to end the inning and surpass her season-high with 15 K’s. 

    Leading off the bottom of the seventh, Burchell quickly got on base after shooting a single through the infield. Junior first baseman Melissa Brown laid down a sacrifice bunt in front of the mound, and then Tarango grounded out to the pitcher, improving Burchell to third and setting up some late inning heroics.

    Pinch hitting for Hammond, Akamine stepped to the plate.  Down quickly in the count 0-2, the Escondido, Calif., native nubbed a slow roller just over Rogers’ glove that was fielded by the second baseman but dropped by Gammel on the toss to first to give UT the victory.



    Back-to-Back Homers Lifts Tide in Extras


    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Back-to-back ninth inning home runs lifted the No. 1 ranked Alabama softball team to a 3-1 victory over Kentucky in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina

    went the entire nine innings Friday night at the UK Softball Complex.

    Freshman Danae Hays ripped a two-out solo home run in the ninth and junior Courtney Conley followed suit with a homer of her own to help keep Alabama unbeaten and improve to 19-0.

    Traina allowed just one run on two hits and struck out 14 in the nine inning winning effort. The sophomore improves to a perfect 11-0 on the season.

    Alabama banged out 10 hits and was led by Conley who improved her season average to .667 after going 3-for-4 on the night. Junior Kayla Braud also collected three hits while senior Jazlyn Luncford added two hits and a stolen base.

    After Kentucky took a quick 1-0 lead on a solo home run in the first the Tide got going in the fourth inning. Sophomore Kaila Hunt drilled her first career triple to right-center and then Lunceford hit a flare to right to score Hunt and even the score.

    The extra inning victory was the first for Alabama since it downed Kentucky, 2-1, in the SEC Tournament in Knoxville, Tenn., in 2009.

    Alabama will return to the diamond for game two of the series as the two teams will meet at the UK Softball Complex at Noon CT.



    Razorbacks win first conference game
                   
    Columbia, S.C. - The Arkansas softball team won its first conference game of the season defeating South Carolina 5-4 in eight innings, improving its overall record to 17-4 and 1-2 in the SEC.
                   
    In their first road conference game of the 2012 season the Razorbacks had nine hits with four of them being homeruns. The four homeruns hit by Devon Wallace, Clarisa Navarro, Chloe Oprzedek and Andrea Sullivan, ties the single game record for homeruns as a team, last time being in 2010 against Kentucky.
                   
    “I was very proud of the girls tonight,” said Head Coach Mike Larabee.
                   
    Arkansas got on the board first in the top of the third when Wallace blasted the first of the four homeruns on the night, over the left center field wall to give the Razorbacks a 1-0 lead.
                   
    South Carolina responded in the bottom of the fourth bringing in one run and tying the game at one.
                   
    The second homerun of the game came in the top of the fifth from Navarro when she cleared the centerfield wall, giving the Razorbacks the 2-1 lead.
                   
    The Gamecocks once again answered tying the game after a single, a sacrifice bunt and another single advanced a runner home. South Carolina took the lead in the bottom of the sixth after a runner was walked and brought in off of a double.
                   
    Oprzedek recorded her fourth homerun on the season in the top of the seventh, bringing home Wallace as well as giving Arkansas the 4-3 lead.
                   
    The Gamecocks would not go away and answered again in the bottom of the seventh bringing one runner in, tying the game at four and forcing extra innings.
                   
    In the top of the seventh, Sullivan recorded her first homerun and hit as a Razorback when she blasted the ball over the center field wall giving Arkansas the 5-4 lead.
                   
    “Andrea is a really special hitter,” said Larabee
                   
    The Gamecocks could not respond in the bottom of the eighth, giving the Razorbacks the 5-4 victory.
                   
    Kimmy Beasley got the start in the circle throwing a solid 6.1 innings while recording 3 strikeouts.  Chelsea Cohen came in to the game in the bottom of the seventh and threw 1.2 innings collecting the win and improving her overall season record to 10-4.
                   
    “I thought Chelsea was in command tonight,” said Larabee.  “She came in and closed the game like a veteran.”
                   
    The Razorbacks are back in action in the second game of the three game series with South Carolina tomorrow at 1 p.m.
               
    Live stats and a live blog will be available at ArkansasRazorbacks.com.



    MSU Softball Earns Historic Victory With Win Against No. 7 Georgia

    Starkville, Miss. – Defeating its highest-ranked opponent ever at home, the Mississippi State softball team sent shockwaves throughout the Southeastern Conference with a 5-3 win over No. 7 Georgia Friday night. The win under the lights at the MSU Softball Stadium improved the Maroon and White to 15-7 overall (1-2 SEC), while the visiting Bulldogs fell to 19-3 on the year (0-1 SEC).

    Junior left-handed pitcher Stephanie Becker was stellar for MSU for the second time in three days, improving to a team-best 8-2 on the season with the win. The southpaw offset three runs (zero earned) on five hits and two walks with a career-high 10 strikeouts, going the distance for a team-high sixth time this year.

    Playing against her native state, sophomore second baseman Heidi Shape tallied two hits, two runs, an RBI and a walk against the Red and Black. Reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week Jessica Cooley also crossed the dish twice, finishing 1-for-3 with a walk. In the eight and nine spots, senior right fielder Brittany Gates and sophomore center fielder Jessica Offutt each went 1-for-3 with a run driven in. At the top of the order, senior catcher Ka’ili Smith tied her career high in walks with three free passes, while senior designated player Brittany Bell reached base safely for the 22nd time in as many games this season (1-for-2).

    Becker made quick work of the visitors from Athens, giving up no hits and striking out two batters in each of the first four innings. The home Bulldogs jumped on the board first with a two-run fourth, which started with a single by Cooley up the middle. After Cooley stole her second base of the season, Shape knocked her in with an RBI single past the pitcher. Shape advanced to second on an error by the UGA shortstop and then sprinted to third after tagging on a flyout by redshirt sophomore Erin Nesbit. Shape crossed the dish after a perfectly-laid bunt single by Offutt to the third baseman.

    Georgia responded with two runs of its own in the fifth, but State answered with three runs on three hits and two errors in the bottom half of the frame. Bell sent a shot to right field for her second-career triple to lead things off. After a popout, Cooley walked to put runners on the corners with one out. Shape came up with a chance to drive in another and did just that. The sophomore slugger dropped a 1-2 offering in left, plating Bell. Cooley would score the second run of the inning when Georgia’s left fielder made an error attempting to cleanly field Shape’s ball. Once she fielded it, she collected another error on the throw home, as the ball ricocheted off the catcher’s mitt and allowed Shape to progress to third. With Shape on third, Gates pinched it to right to give MSU a 5-3 lead it would never relinquish.

    The battle of the Bulldogs continues Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Dawg Diamond.



    LSU Softball Takes Two from Mississippi Valley State and Troy

    BATON ROUGE – Meghan Patterson piped in nine strikeouts and fired a three-hit shutout as the LSU softball team opened the Purple & Gold Challenge with a 2-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State Friday at Tiger Park.

    The Tigers (13-7) also notched a 6-3 win over Troy during the nightcap.

    “Meghan did a nice job, and I didn’t think she had her best stuff today,” head coach Beth Torina said. “That’s a sign of a good pitcher is winning on a day when you don’t have your best stuff. That makes you very quality on the mound. I think she did a very good job today. She kept us in it the whole way, and there was never a doubt in my mind.”

    Patterson allowed only two runners into scoring position as she retired 14 of the last 17 batters she faced to improve 2-0 on the season.

    “Warming up, I even told Coach [Torina] that the spin wasn’t looking great on some of my pitches,” Torina said. “She just called the right pitches, knew what was working and what the batters were swinging at. They were chasing so she knew that the rise ball would be perfect. I was kind of worried at first, but I pulled through.”

    LSU picked up a pair of timely hits to score its runs during the fourth and fifth innings. Ashley Langoni and Dylan Supak drew walks in-front of a Kailey McCasland two-out, RBI single for the game’s first run in the fourth. During the next frame, Allison Falcon provided another two-out, RBI single to make it 2-0.

    Game 2 – LSU 6, Troy 3

    LSU received a stellar pitching performance from Brittany Mack, who racked up 10 strikeouts against two walks to move to 5-4 for the season. She sprayed nine hits and was touched up for three runs, one earned.
     
    The Tigers raced out to a 2-0 advantage behind some two-out lightning. Ashley Langoni and Juliana Santos connected a walk and a single to place runners on the corners. Santos stole second base and a throwing error by Troy catcher Kacie McAllister allowed Langoni to scoot home for the opening run. On a 1-1 offering, Supak cranked a RBI single to plate Santos and push the LSU edge to 2-0.

    After Troy sliced the Tigers lead down to 2-1 in the fifth inning, the Tigers responded with a quartet of runs during the home half of the frame.  A.J. Andrews chopped a leadoff single up the middle and stole second base. Two batters later, Allison Falcon belted her first career home run to right field to give LSU a 4-1 advantage.

    “Coach [Howard] Dobson talked to us in between games and said something along the lines that you can’t let the pitcher get you out twice in a row on the same pitch,” Falcon said. “With the home run, I had seen that outside pitch before, and I was expecting it. I just did what needed to be done.”

    Langoni and Santos followed with a single and walk to reset the table. Both came around to score on an error by Troy left fielder Sarah Harris to vault the Tigers ahead by a 6-1 margin.

    Troy platted a pair of runs on LSU errors during the seventh inning, but Mack shut the door to secure the 6-3 win. The five errors by the Tigers for the game matched a program single game record. 
     
    “We definitely need to clean up the defense,” Torina said. “Of course, we need two more strong pitching performances. I also would still like to see the offense come out aggressive. It is nice to see them come out scoring in the first inning. I really like when they have that mentality, and they attack right from the beginning. I would like to see that for two more games tomorrow.”

    LSU returns to action Saturday versus Troy and Mississippi Valley State. First pitch against the Trojans is slated for 1:30 p.m.