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    SEC Softball Today: March 10

    Alabama 9, Kentucky 1
    Auburn 13, Drexel 0
    Auburn 3, Evansville 1
    South Carolina 7, Arkansas 2
    Florida 5, Tennessee 2
    Georgia 2, Mississippi State 0
    Ole Miss 5, Colorado State 2
    Stanford 8, Ole Miss 4
    LSU 1, Troy 0
    LSU 16, Mississippi Valley State 0

    No. 1 Alabama Softball Downs Kentucky, 9-1

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – The number one ranked Alabama softball team used a big first inning to secure its first Southeastern Conference series victory of the season with a 9-1 run-rule win, Saturday over Kentucky at the UK Softball Complex. With the victory the Crimson Tide improve to 20-0 on the season.

    Alabama exploded for eight runs in the first inning, banging out eight hits in the frame. Junior Courtney Conley supplied the big hit with a three-run home run to extend her hitting streak to seven games.

    Senior Amanda Locke had a pair of RBI while Jennifer Fenton, Cassie Reilly-Boccia and Jazlyn Lunceford also knocked in runs in the inning.

    Alabama added its ninth and final run of the contest when junior Kayla Braud was able to score on a throwing error by the pitcher that rolled along the fencing down the right field line.

    Freshman Leslie Jury earned her first career SEC victory. The rookie allowed one run on four hits and struck out three to improve to 7-0 on the season.

    Senior catcher Kendall Dawson and Lunceford paced the Tide at the plate with two hits each. Fenton reached base four times while Braud scored twice.

    The hot start marks the third time in program history that the Tide has begun a season 20-0. UA raced out to a school record 27-0 record in 2001 and a 25-0 start in 2007.

    Alabama and Kentucky will wrap up the series on Sunday with first pitch scheduled for Noon CT.

    No. 20/19 Auburn Softball Improves To 20-3; Defeating Drexel And Evansville

    Auburn, Ala.  –  The No. 20/19 Auburn softball team improved to 20-3 with a pair of wins Saturday at the War Eagle Classic. The Tigers defeated Drexel 13-0 in five innings and Evansville 3-1. Auburn concludes play in the tournament Sunday with a 2 p.m. game against Presbyterian.
    “We came out strong in the first game, obviously, scoring nine runs in the first inning,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “Elizabeth Eisterhold continued to deliver the big hit with runners on base today. She has really come through for us this weekend. We had to fight through the second game. Angel (Bunner) did a good job making an early lead hold up.”
    Against Evansville, Elizabeth Eisterhold drove in two of Auburn’s three runs and pitcher Angel Bunner held off a seventh-inning rally as the Tigers won 3-1.
    Bunner earned the complete-game win, improving to 8-0. Bunner allowed one run, earned, on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts.
    Kendall Kautz started and took the loss to fall to 1-1. Kautz allowed three runs, all earned, on two hits with two walks and one strikeout.
    Lauren Guzman doubled to open the bottom of the first and moved to third a fielder’s choice that did not register an out by Brooke Lathan. Elizabeth Eisterhold plated Guzman and moved Lathan to third on a ground out to short that give Auburn a 1-0 lead. After reaching on a hit by pitch, Caitlin Jordan broke for second on a steal attempt.  Jordan was thrown out but Lathan scored easily, breaking for home on the throw to second, to give Auburn a 2-0 lead.
    Eisterhold continued her RBI binge with a two-out, solo home run to left in the bottom of the third inning. It was Eisterhold’s sixth home run of the season, 28th of her career and her ninth RBI of the weekend.
    The Tigers would be held scoreless after Eisterhold’s home run, stranding runners in the fourth and sixth innings.
    Evansville mounted a rally in the top of the seventh inning. Niki Rahming doubled to open the inning and scored on Kayla Fortner’s double off the wall in right to make it a 3-1 game. Bunner recovered, however, to register three consecutive outs to strand Fortner at second and end the game.
    Against Drexel, the Tigers scored eight runs before the Dragons recorded an out in a nine-run first inning and cruised to a 13-0 win in five innings.

    Pitcher Jenee Loree earned the complete-game win to improve to 6-1. Loree allowed one hit with no walks and five strikeouts.
    Auburn wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, pushing across nine runs the plate in the top of the first. Lauren Guzman (single), Brooke Lathan (single) and Elizabeth Eisterhold (walk) reached to open the game and load the bases. Caitlin Jordan was hit by a pitch to force Guzman home for the first Auburn run. Amber Harrison followed with a bloop single to left that plated Lathan to make it a 2-0 game.
    A four-pitch walk to Baylee Stephens forced Eisterhold home and pushed the lead to 3-0. Another walk, this time to McKenzie Kilpatrick, forced home the fourth run of the inning and chased Allen from the game. Caitlin Schultze followed with an infield single that was fielded in the pitcher’s circle by second baseman Sylvia Llamas who had no play at home as Harrison scored. Llamas then turned to throw to first but hit relief pitcher Jessica O’Hara in the head, allowing Stephens to score for a 6-0 Tigers’ lead.
    With two on and no outs, Branndi Melero crushed a double off the wall in right to score Kilpatrick and Schultze for an 8-0 lead. After a ground out, Lathan reached on an infield single which kept Melero at third. Eisterhold, however, followed with a ground out to short that plated Melero for the final run of the inning, giving Auburn a 9-0 lead.
    Eisterhold gave the Tigers a 10-0 lead in the top of the third with a two-out single, scoring Lathan (double). Jordan followed with a towering home run to left to push the Tigers’ lead to 12-0.
    Eisterhold delivered again, this time with a leadoff home run to center to open the fifth inning. The dinger was Eisterhold’s fifth of the season, 27th of her career and gave Auburn the final 13-0 margin of victory.

    Gamecocks Bounce Back with 7-2 Game Two Win over Arkansas
    COLUMBIA, S.C. – A relentless offensive attack that included hits from eight of the Gamecocks’ nine starting batters led South Carolina (17-7, 1-1 SEC) to a 7-2 victory over Arkansas (17-5, 1-3 SEC) in front of 503 fans at Beckham Field on Saturday afternoon.

    Sophomore Chelsea Hawkins led the Gamecock attack with a 3-for-4 day, scoring twice. Sophomore Dana Hathorn went 2-for-4 with a two-run double, while junior Samie Garcia added a two-RBI double as well. Seniors Kaitlin Westfall and Kaela Jackson also doubled, with Westfall and senior Evan Childs each driving in a run.

    “I was pleased with the way we attacked today,” said Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith. “Everybody hit well throughout the lineup, and we were constantly putting pressure on their defense. Getting on the board early helped with our confidence at the plate.”

    The Gamecocks started quickly in the first, as senior Lauren Lackey scored on Childs’ hit to left after she reached on an infield hit and moved to second when the throw got away at first. Hawkins followed with the first of her three singles, setting up Hathorn’s two-run double to the right-field gap. The Gamecocks added runs in the next two frames, with Westfall plating senior pinch runner Jackie Slawson on the second Razorback error of the game in the second. Hathorn scored on Jackson’s double in the third after the Arkansas centerfielder bobbled the ball at the wall.

    South Carolina had a chance to end things in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs. Garcia drove the first pitch of the at bat to deep right, allowing two runs to score. With the potential eighth run at third, Arkansas pitcher Ciara Clampitt got a fly out to end the frame.

    The Razorbacks scored in both the sixth and seventh on solo homers by Devon Wallace and Amanda Geile but were kept at bay otherwise despite getting runners aboard in every inning.

    Gamecock freshman Katelynn Howser (7-1) pitched in and out of trouble all day, scattering eight hits and seven walks in the complete-game win. She struck out six. Kimmy Beasley (5-1) took the loss for the Razorbacks, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 2.1 innings.

    “I was really pleased with the way Katelynn Howser pitched today,” commented Smith. “She did a nice job changing speeds, keeping a big-hitting Arkansas lineup off balance.”

    Arkansas’s Chloe Oprzedek had two doubles on the day, while Geile went 2-for-3 with the homer. The Razorbacks stranded 14 runners in the contest, compared to nine for the Gamecocks.

    The series finale begins at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday at Beckham Field.

    No. 3/4 Florida Softball Evens Series at No. 9 Tennessee, 5-2, Saturday

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After falling short against No. 9 Tennessee in the series opener Friday evening, the No. 3/4 softball squad rebounded Saturday with a 5-2 victory over the Lady Vols in Knoxville with an 11-hit performance in front of a sold-out crowd of 1,713 at Lee Stadium Saturday. Florida's 22nd victory of the 2012 season evened the series at one-apiece, as the two squads will take to the field for the series finale Sunday at noon.

    The Gators (22-2, 3-1 SEC) returned Saturday with sophomore Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) in the circle, while the Lady Vols (15-4, 1-1 SEC) opted to go with junior hurler Ivy Renfroe. Rogers worked the first 5.0, giving up seven hits, but allowing just two Tennessee runs, while retiring one Lady Vol by strikeout. Rogers picked up the victory to improve to 12-1 on the season, while freshman righty Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) earned her first save of the season after 2.0 innings of hitless, scoreless relief with two strikeouts.

    Not only did Haeger work for the Gators in the circle, but the 2011 USA Softball Women's Junior National Team member went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Orange and Blue on offense. Haeger tallied a two-out RBI single through the right side for UF's final run of the contest in the fourth inning.

    Florida leaders sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) and senior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) also rallied for multi-hit performances, Coyle with a 2-for-3 effort and Moultrie with a 2-for-4 day at the plate. Junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and freshmen Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) and Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) got in on the action as well with one hit apiece.

    Renfroe moved to 4-4 on the season with the loss as the UT hurler went the distance, giving up UF's 11 hits and five runs, while walking four and retiring two by strikeout. Madison Shipman and Kat Dotson each had two hits to lead Tennessee offensively.

    The Gators out-hit the Lady Vols, 11-7, and scattered runs in the first, second and fourth innings, with one run each in the first and fourth and three in a key second frame for the Gators.

    With two down in the first, Coyle sent a bomb to left field, her sixth long ball of the season to give Florida a 1-0 jump early. Haeger sent a two-out hard-hit single up the middle to keep the bats going, but a groundout ended the scoring for the Orange and Blue.

    Tennessee struck back in the second after Raven Chavanne led off with a single up the middle, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt and advanced to third on a Rogers wild pitch. With two outs on the board, Madison Shipman drove in Chavanne on a RBI single to left field, while Kat Dotson followed with a RBI double to deep left center that brought Shipman across home for the 2-1 Tennessee lead.

    Florida came out swinging in the second, stringing together a three-run, five-hit inning, as Gammel and K. Fagan led off with consecutive base hits to get things started. A freshman Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) groundout advanced the duo to third and second, respectively, bringing up classmate Medina, who struck with a RBI single up the middle that scored Gammel and turned the Gator lineup over.

    A S. Fagan fielder's choice put two outs on the board as sister K. Fagan was eliminated at home, but Moultrie loaded the bags after speeding to first on an infield single to short. A dangerous Coyle struck for her second hit of the day, this time to left field to bring two Gators home for the 4-2 Florida advantage after the top half of the second.

    Rogers, feeling the momentum in favor of the Orange and Blue, retired the Vols in order in the bottom half of the frame, tallying her only strikeout of the day to retire the side.

    After a scoreless third for both teams, Florida struck once more in the top of the fourth on Haeger's RBI base hit. S. Fagan connected for a perfect slap single to Shipman at short and sped to first to get things started at the top of the lineup. Moultrie struck out, but Renfroe walked Coyle this time around, setting up Haeger's hit. S. Fagan scored from second, while Coyle made it to third on the play. Coyle was eliminated on a stolen base attempt for the final out of the inning, but not before the Gators pushed another run across to extend the lead, 5-2.

    After a fairly quiet fifth inning, the home team started a rally in the bottom of the seventh after two straight base hits from Shipman and Dotson to lead off the stanza for the Vols, spurring the change in the circle for the Gators from Rogers to Haeger.

    With a 1-1 count already on UT's batter, Haeger walked Burchell before a fielder's choice eliminated Shipman at home for the first out. Haeger then fanned Cheyanne Tarango and pinch hitter Melissa Davin with bases loaded to get out of the jam.

    Haeger had a leadoff hit in the seventh for UF, but a sac bunt, pop up and ground out ended the inning, while the first-year returned in the circle to force three straight groundouts for the Lady Vols in the bottom of the seventh, securing UF's series-evening victory.

    No. 7 Georgia Blanks Mississippi State 2-0

    STARKVILLE, Miss. — What started out as a pitching duel turned into a 2-0 victory for the No. 7 University of Georgia softball team, as the Bulldogs (20-3, 1-1) took game two of the three-game series at Mississippi State (15-8, 1-3) on Saturday.

    Senior Erin Arevalo (7-1) earned the victory after going a complete game with nine strikeouts. MSU’s Stephanie Becker (8-3) took the loss after giving up both runs on five hits in 4.2 innings and retiring two batters before Kylie Vry came in as relief for 2.1 innings and gave up two hits while striking out three.

    Junior Christine Olney led the team offensively with two hits followed by freshmen Niaja Griffin and Gracie Goulder with the only double and home run of the game, respectively. Both teams earned seven hits in the game, but it was the Red and Black that made the most of its opportunities in the fourth and fifth innings.

    Griffin’s hit down the left field line opened the fourth inning for Georgia. Senior Ashley Razey came up two batters later to get a RBI single to center to make it 1-0. The next inning Goulder came to bat and popped her hit just in fair territory and over the fence to seal the 2-0 win.

    Georgia faces MSU in the final game on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET in Starkville.

    Rebels Split A Pair At Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic   

    PALO ALTO, Calif. - Senior Kendall Bruning allowed just four hits and two runs in seven innings of work and third baseman Cali Overbeck smashed a two-run home run, as Ole Miss downed Colorado State 5-2 on day two of the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic on Saturday. In the second game of the day, Ole Miss smashed two home runs off Cardinal All-American pitcher Teagan Gerhart, but it wasn't enough as the Rebels dropped a back-and-forth contest 8-4 to No. 10 Stanford.

    Ole Miss (12-8) will close out the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic and its trip to the west coast tomorrow at 11 a.m. against James Madison.

    Game One

    Pitcher Kendall Bruning scattered four hits in seven innings and senior Cali Overbeck homered to help Ole Miss down Colorado State 5-2 in game one at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic.

    Ole Miss jumped on top in the top of the third after Overbeck reached on a muffed throw by Ram first basemen Aylsa Greckel to lead off the inning and then moved to second after Corrine Doornberg laid down a bunt single. Junior Brittany Broome then laced a single up the middle to load the bases with no outs for RT Cantillo, who also singled up the middle to plate Overbeck and Doornberg and give Ole Miss a 2-0 lead. Shortstop Allison Brown added an RBI groundout later in the frame that brought Broome home and put the Rebels up 3-0.

    Overbeck added a two-run home run to left in the fourth that scored Dallas Hardin and put Ole Miss up 5-0. It was Overbeck `s first homer of the season and the 13th long ball of her career. She finished the game with one hit, two RBI and two runs scored. Cantillo added two hits and two RBI, while Broome had two hits in four at-bats and scored once.

    Colorado State scored one run in the bottom of the fifth on passed ball by Rebel catcher Marina Parra and another run in the seventh on a wild pitch, but that would be all the runs that the Rams would muster against Bruning (10-2), who gave up just four hits in 7.0 innings of work. She also struck out five in the complete-game win.

    Game Two

    First baseman Londen Ladner and shortstop Allison Brown both homered off Stanford All-American pitcher Teagen Gerhart, but the Rebels dropped a back-and-forth game 8-4 to the 10th-ranked Cardinal.

    Stanford took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a two-out, two-run single to center by right fielder Corey Hanewich. California native Allison Brown responded right back for the Rebels in the top of the second with a two-run home run to left center that brought pinch runner Dallas Hardin home and tied the game at two. It marked Brown's second homer of the season and she finished the game with a hit, a run scored and two RBI.

    Stanford answered back in the bottom of the second after second baseman Hanna Winter knocked an RBI double to left center that gave the Cardinal the lead once again.

    Rebel third baseman Cali Overbeck started off the top of the third with an infield single and Corrine Doornberg and Brittany Broome both reached on bunt singles to load the bases with no outs. Overbeck was then throw out at home on an RT Cantillo fielder's choice for the first out of the frame before Ladner lifted a sac fly to left that plated Doornberg and tied the game once again.

    Winter added an RBI single through the right side of the infield in the bottom of the fourth that scored Tegan Schmidt, who had reached on a fielding error by Overbeck to start the frame, and gave Stanford a 4-3 lead. Stanford added four more runs in the fifth highlighted by a two-run home run to left center by designated player Jenna Rich that extended the Cardinal lead to 8-3.

    Ladner cracked a solo home run in the sixth inning that brought Ole Miss to with 8-4 of Stanford. It was Ladner's team-best fifth homer of the season and the second long ball she had hit off Gerhart in as many days. Ladner went 2-for-2 in the game with a single, a homer and a run scored.

    Erinn Jayjohn (1-5) suffered the complete-game loss after giving up eight runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings. She struck out one and walked three.

    LSU Softball Sweeps Purple & Gold Challenge

    BATON ROUGE – With two outs and two runners in scoring position during the bottom of the seventh inning, pinch hitter Ashleigh Kuhn smoked the game-winning single to left field to allow the LSU softball team to notch a 1-0 walkoff victory over Troy Saturday at Tiger Park.

    LSU (15-7) also rolled to a 16-0 five-inning win over Mississippi Valley State during the nightcap. The Tigers have won 12 of their last 15 games dating back to Feb. 19.

    “I thought today was exactly how we should have come out,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We came out and did everything we needed to do.  Luckily, we got a timely hit from Ashleigh Kuhn in the first game. Overall, we had some really strong performances from our players today.”

    Dylan Supak sparked the Tigers with a leadoff single to open the seventh inning. Pinch runner Alex Boulet was called out at second base on a bang-bang play after a Kailey McCasland bunt attempt.

    Two batters later, Morgan Russell cranked a double down the left field which enabled McCasland to scamper into third base to set the stage for Kuhn. On the 0-1 offering, Kuhn laced the walkoff single into left field.

    “I finally got one right, made a good decision. But all the credit goes to Ashleigh,” Torina said. “She’s been swinging so well in practice. I’m always confident in her, and I’m always confident in her in that type of situation. She, in my mind, is the first one off the bench in a pinch-hitting role if she’s not already in the lineup.”

    “I’m really glad I got an opportunity to do that, and I really like being in those types of situations,” Kuhn said. “It really didn’t feel like pressure, it just felt like I was excited to get up there.”

    Rachele Fico fired her fourth one-hitter of the season and equaled a season’s best 10 strikeouts against one walk. In the process, the junior right-hander improved to 7-3 on the season and became the eighth hurler in program history to amass over 400 career strikeouts.

    “We had a pretty healthy mix of pitch calling,” Fico said. “Coach Torina was changing planes and working both sides of the plate. We really kept them off balance today. We’re always trying to work ahead in counts. Whenever we get ahead, it gives us a lot of room to play with different pitches to try and get the batter to either swing-and-miss or to freeze them up. Today, we were successful with that.”

    After Troy put two runners on the base paths in the first inning, Fico retired 20 of the final 21 batters she faced. The lone hiccup was a one-out single during the fifth inning. Fico quickly erased the threat with back-to-back Ks to preserve the shutout.

    “When she’s on, she’s really on,” Torina said. “There wasn’t a moment when anyone had doubt in that game. We were just dominant the entire time, and I feel like she’s really throwing well. I’m excited to be going into SEC play with her feeling as well as she is.”

    Game 2 – LSU 16, Mississippi Valley State 0 [5 Innings]

    LSU’s offense exploded for 11 of its 16 runs in the first inning. It marked the most runs for the Tiger during an inning since posting a 12-run second inning against Texas Southern on Feb. 26, 2006.

    For the game, the Tigers collected a season-high 16 runs on a season-best 13 hits. Ashleigh Kuhn turned in a 2-for-4 effort with a career-high four RBIs, while Ashley Langoni compiled a 2-for-3 performance, scored twice and added three RBIs. Heidi Pizer and Dylan Supak also picked up a pair of RBIs.

    A.J. Andrews, Ashley Applegate, Rikki Alcaraz, Lauren Houston and Tammy Vermeulen joined Langoni by crossing the plate two times apiece.

    Applegate opened the game and ripped a double down the left field line. Allison Falcon drew a walk aided by an illegal pitch which placed runners on the corners. Langoni knocked the first of her two RBIs singles during the frame through the left side for the game’s first run.

    Supak and Tammy Wray followed with singles up the middle sandwiched between a Mississippi Valley State error during a rundown to make it 4-0.

    Houston was hit-by-a-pitch to load the bases. Making her first career start at designated player, Vermeulen tacked on a RBI on a fielder’s choice before Andrews and Applegate followed with walks to refill the bases and push the LSU edge to 6-0.

    Falcon kept the frame going and reached base via a Mississippi Valley State fielding error, while Langoni platted two more runs on a single to centerfield to extend the LSU advantage to 9-0. Kuhn ripped another two-run single to complete the 11-run frame. 

    LSU pushed across five more runs in the second inning as Kuhn, Pizer and Supak all struck for RBI singles for the final margin of 16-0.

    Brittany Mack notched five strikeouts against one walk during her three stanzas of work. She improved to 6-4 on the season, while Meghan Patterson worked two spotless innings of relief and retired four of the six batters she faced via the strikeout.

    LSU embarks on SEC action with a Wednesday doubleheader versus Auburn. It marks the program’s annual “Gold Game” along with Student Point Night.

    First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Tiger Park, and the game will be broadcasted live on 104.5 FM in Baton Rouge. Patrick Wright and Kent Lowe will call the action.