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    SEC Softball Today: March 16

    softBALL RESULTS
    Auburn 2, Georgia 0
    Alabama 12, Ole Miss 2
    Florida 9, South Carolina 1
    Tennessee 8, Arkansas 0
    N.C. State 6, Kentucky 3
    UAB 6, Kentucky 5
    LSU 10, Mississippi State 7

    No. 20 Auburn Softball Tops No. 7 Georgia 2-0 In Series Opener

    Athens, Ga.  –  Jenee Loree tossed a one-hit shutout as the 20th-ranked Auburn softball team defeated No. 7 Georgia 2-0 Friday night in the opening game of a three-game series.
                   
    Auburn improved to 23-4 overall and 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference. Georgia dropped 21-5 overall and 2-2 in SEC play. The Tigers and Bulldogs play game two of the series at 1:30 p.m. CT Saturday.
                   
    “I am really proud of the way Jenee pitched tonight,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “Georgia is a good offensive team and to hold them to one hit is just an excellent performance by Jenee. Offensively, we were able to get it done but we are going to have to be more consistent at the plate.”
                   
    Loree improved to 8-1 with the complete-game win. Loree walked three, struck out five and retired the last nine consecutive batters of the game.
                   
    Erin Arevalo took the complete-game loss, falling to 8-2. Arevalo allowed two runs, both unearned, on three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
                   
    Auburn scored the only runs of the game, pushing two runs across in the top of the first inning. Lauren Guzman was hit by the first pitch of the game and moved to second on a sac bunt. A ground-out moved Guzman to third. Caitlin Jordan drove a ball up the middle that second baseman Ashley Pauly misplayed for an error, allowing Guzman to score for a 1-0 lead. Amber Harrison followed with a single to center that plated Jordan and pushed the Auburn lead to 2-0.
                   
    The Tigers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the second inning, but Arevalo forced a ground ball double play off the bat of Brooke Lathan to end the inning without a run scoring.
                   
    After the second inning, Arevalo got on a roll and retired 10 consecutive Auburn batters until a one-out walk in the sixth inning broke the string.
                   
    For the Tigers, Loree was in control from the start of the game. Loree allowed one hit and two walks in the first two innings, but settled into a groove. Loree retired the side in order in the third and fourth innings, but gave up a leadoff walk in the fifth to break the string, but that would be the last Georgia batter to reach base.
                   
    In the bottom of the seventh, Loree fanned Ashley Razey on a swinging strike three for the first out of the inning. On a 1-0 pitch, Loree forced Kristyn Sandberg to line out to Guzman at shortstop for the second out. The game ended when Griffin lined out to Loree on the first pitch of the at-bat.



    No. 1 Alabama Softball Too Much Early for Ole Miss

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The top-ranked Alabama softball team scored 12 runs in the first two innings to down Ole Miss, 12-2, Friday night at Rhoads Stadium. With the victory the Crimson Tide improve to 23-0 overall and 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

    Alabama opened the game with three runs in the first and then put nine on the board in the second to continue its winning ways against Mississippi. UA has now won 21 straight against the Rebels and improve to 49-2 all-time.

    The Tide outhit the Rebels (13-10, 2-1 SEC), 11-3, and was led at the plate by senior Jennifer Fenton, who went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBI. Fellow senior Jazlyn Lunceford also collected two hits and scored two runs, adding an RBI.

    Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina moved her unblemished record to 14-0, earning the three inning win. Traina struck out three and allowed one run on one hit in a 51-pitching outing.

    UA opened the game with three runs in the first. Traina helped her own cause by smacking an RBI double in the gap in right-center to score Fenton and senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia. Traina later came around to score on a wild pitch.

    Alabama opened the floodgates in the second by plating nine runs. Fenton got things going with a two-run single through the left side and then Reilly-Boccia singled up the middle to score Fenton from second.

    Sophomore Kaila Hunt provided the big hit in the frame with a three-run home run. The homer was her team-leading eighth on the season. Senior Kendall Dawson then drilled a home run over the wall in center to continue the onslaught.

    The Tide was not done as back-to-back triples by Lunceford and freshman Jadyn Spencer capped off the scoring. Nine of the 12 runs were scored with two outs.

    Game two of the series will be held Saturday night and will air on ESPNU. Mark Neely and Michele Smith will call the action from Rhoads Stadium with first pitch slated for 5 p.m.



    Gator Softball Takes Five-Inning Series Opener Over South Carolina, 9-1

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 4 Florida softball team added its 12th run-rule victory of the campaign Friday with a 9-1, five-inning win over conference foe South Carolina at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in the first contest of the three-game weekend set. The Orange and Blue improve to 24-2 on the season, 5-1 in 2012 league play, while the Gamecocks moved to 19-10 (2-4 SEC) on the year with the loss.

    Florida continued its efficient offensive production with nine runs on nine hits, while drawing nine walks between USC’s two hurlers, starter Katelynn Howser (4) and relief pitcher Kierstyn White (5) – neither of whom fanned a Gator batter through the five-inning match-up.

    Seven different Gators recorded hits, led by three freshmen, designated player Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.), second baseman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) and Friday’s first baseman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.). Castro and Medina were both perfect at the plate this evening, Castro with a three-run blast in the second for UF’s first three runs of the game, Medina with a 2-for-2 performance and two runs scored, while Haeger put together a 2-for-3 showing with three RBI on the evening.

    The Gators strung together a six-run second inning, while scoring one in the third and two in the fifth to complete the contest. USC’s lone run came in the top of the fourth frame on a Kaela Jackson RBI double to right-center to bring home Dana Hathorn, who connected for a one-out base hit.

    Sophomore Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) worked her 11th complete game of the season to improve to 13-1. The Gators’ ace gave up just four hits and one run, while ringing up two Gamecocks and walking two others. Starter Howser took the loss for USC, moving to 8-2 on the season after giving up Florida’s first six runs, walking four and giving up five Gator hits. White came on for the final 2.1, allowing four more UF hits and three runs to complete the contest.

    After committing two uncharacteristic errors in the first inning, the Gators settled and brought the bats in the second for six runs on five hits for the early 6-0 lead.

    Sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) got the Gator started right with a leadoff base hit, while junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) drew one of her three walks on the night for two runners on when Castro came up to the plate. After smashing a three-run bomb Wednesday that didn’t count in UF’s ‘No Game’ with Chattanooga, Castro rebounded for her first official career round-tripper, a three-run shot to left center that gave UF a 3-0 lead to work with. After Medina and freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) registered hits, senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) drew a two-out walk to load the bases, bringing up Haeger, who roped her team-leading seventh double of the season to deep left center to clear the bags and take Florida ahead, 6-0.

    The Orange and Blue tacked another run on in the third to go up, 7-0, while the Gamecocks answered with their lone score in the in the fourth. Florida's final two runs on the night came in the fifth and final inning as four straight Gators reached base with White in the circle. Sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) sent a RBI single through the right side for UF’s ninth run of the tilt, while Moultrie connected for just her first double of the year to score S. Fagan, who reached on an error by the USC first baseman that counted as the ninth and final run needed to enforce the eight-run rule with a 9-1 series win.

    For the Gators, the series-opening victory counted as their 24th consecutive in the history of the series with the Gamecocks. UF and USC will do it again Saturday in the second game of the set, with first pitch at 1 p.m. Florida will be aiming for its eight straight series sweep.

    Saturday’s contest will air live on Sun Sports with Larry Vettel and Megan Bush, while Mike Gillespie will call the action on the radio at WYGC-104.9, 105 The Game, locally and online. For in-game updates, follow the Gators on Twitter @GatorZoneSBall.



    No. 9 Tennessee Takes Series Opener from Arkansas, 8-0

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On Friday night at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark., two RBI’s from both sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman and senior utility player Shelby Burchell helped back a two-hit shutout from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe as the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (18-5, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) nabbed the series opener from the Arkansas Razorbacks (17-8, 1-5 SEC), 8-0 (5 inn.)
     
    Shipman was 1-for-2 at the plate with her team-best sixth double of the season, two runs scored and a pair of RBI’s, while Burchell was a perfect 1-for-1 during a pinch-hit appearance with a two-bagger and two RBI’s.  Junior first baseman Melissa Brown (2-for-3, RBI) and junior third baseman Raven Chavanne (2-for-4, run, RBI) each posted two of the UT offense’s seven total hits.  

    In the circle Ellen Renfroe improved to 13-1 overall, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out eight Razorbacks over 5.0 innings of effort.

    “I thought Ellen started off a little slow tonight, but she really picked it up as the game went along,” Lady Vol Assistant/Pitching Coach Marty McDaniel said.  “You know she made a couple of mistakes, and Arkansas really hit the ball well, but she definitely threw some nice pitches back-to-back tonight.  Obviously, Arkansas will come out tomorrow really fired up.  The SEC is so tough that you always have to take things one game at a time.  Tomorrow’s a different day, and you’ve got to have short term memory about what happened tonight.  They’ll be a different team tomorrow, and so will we.”

    Tennessee’s offense wasted zero time getting started in the top of the first, getting ignited via the speed game.  Chavanne started things off with one of her patented bunt singles and then swiped her team-leading eighth base of the season.  Junior right fielder Kat Dotson joined her teammate on the base paths via a walk against Arkansas starter Ciara Clampett.  The speed duo moved up 60 feet each on a bouncer to first from junior second baseman Lauren Gibson, setting the stage for a long sacrifice fly off the bat of Shipman as Chavanne crossed from third for a 1-0 advantage.

    From the circle for the Big Orange, Renfroe exerted her dominance immediately with back-to-back strikeouts of third baseman Chloe Oprzedek and shortstop Clarisa Navarro.  Despite issuing a two-out walk to left fielder Devon Wallace, the 6-0 right-hander rebounded immediately to strikeout the side by K’ing right fielder Sierra Bronkey.

    After the Lady Vols left a duo in scoring position during the top of the second, Arkansas managed a base runner in the bottom of the second via a UT infield throwing error.  With UA designated player Ashley Martindale at second following the miscue, Renfroe responded by striking out catcher Jayme Gee and inducing a fly ball to left from first baseman Megan Pearson to leave the occupant in scoring position.

    The advantage expanded to 3-0 during the top of the third as a one-out walk by Gibson was cashed in on a lined RBI double to the wall off the bat of Shipman.  With the Valencia, Calif., native within 60 feet of pay dirt after an unsuccessful play at the plate, freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango hit a bouncer to short that was fielded by Arkansas’ Navarro.  Her throw home appeared as if would have been in time to get the Big Orange runner, but was airmailed over the catcher and to the backstop as Shipman slid in with UT’s third tally.

    The Razorbacks registered their initial hit of the contest with two down in the bottom of the third as Navarro drove a double over junior Whitney Hammond’s head in center and off the wall.  As is often the case, Renfroe didn’t let the hit phase her, catching Wallace swinging for her fifth strikeout of the night.

    A lead-off single from Gibson in the top of the fifth christened what proved to be the decisive Big Orange scoring outburst.  Shipman followed with a high fly ball to right that was dropped for an error, putting runners at second and third.  With one retired Brown laced a shot through the infield for an RBI as Tennessee improved its lead to 4-0.  Burchell soon stepped into the batter’s box in a pinch-hit opportunity and blasted a two-RBI double to the wall as the advantage expanded to six tallies.  Re-entered into the contest to run, Andrews soon pulled off a swipe of home and then Chavanne added an RBI base knock, setting the final offensive count at 8-0.

    On a deep drive to left from UA’s Pearson beginning the bottom of the fifth, Lady Vol senior defensive substitute Holly Baker made a terrific “web gem” catch near the wall to prevent extra bases.  Following a one-out walk by Reese and a steal of second, Renfroe finished the run-rule contest off in style with back-to-back K’s of Oprzedek and Navarro as Tennessee took the series opener.

    The #9 Tennessee softball squad returns to action in its series against Arkansas at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark., on Sat., March 17, at 1 p.m. CT.  The time for Sunday’s series finale has been altered because of UT travel issues with first pitch now slated for Noon CT.



    UK Drops Both in Opening Day of UK Invite

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – The University of Kentucky softball team (10-14) fell to North Carolina State and the University of Alabama-Birmingham on Friday in the opening day of the 2012 UK Softball Invitational. In both games, the UK offense jumped out to quick starts, but couldn’t hold the lead in the final innings to secure the wins. NC State earned a 6-3 decision and UAB posted a 6-5 win in 10 innings of action.

    In the opening game of the day for the Wildcats, UK jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning on a three-run home run by sophomore Ginny Carroll to deep left field scoring Kara Howard and Lauren Cumbess on the play. UK would hold that lead behind solid pitching from Cumbess who worked six innings allowing six hits and two runs while striking out five batters.

    NC State scored all six of its runs in the top of the seventh inning. The Wildcats recorded two errors in the frame prolonging the inning for the Wolfpack. NC State tallied five of its nine hits in the game in the final stanza. Wolfpack pitcher Emily Weiman picked up her eighth win on the season to improve to 8-9 on the season. Weiman went the distance allowing three runs on eight hits.

    In the second game Kentucky fell in 10 innings to UAB. The Blazers overcame a five-run deficit to beat the Wildcats in extra frames 6-5.

    UK jumped out to a 2-0 advantage in the opening stanza. Senior Rachel Riley singled through the left side and freshman Griffin Joiner found a hole in left field. The runners would round home when Carroll skied a ball to deep left field that the Blazer’s mishandled allowing two runs to score.

    Kentucky then plated three more runs in the home half of the second to stretch the lead to 5-0. Sophomore Aubrey Lamar laced a one-out single through the left side. Following the second out of the inning, junior Kara Dill earned an infield single. Cumbess delivered a two-run double into left-center to plate both runs and lift the home team to the 5-0 advantage.

    UAB began a comeback effort with two runs in both the third and fourth innings. The Blazers forced extra frames with a tally in the visitor’s side of the seventh and overcame the deficit for the victory with a solo homer in the top of the 10th.

    In the other two games, UMKC dropped both decisions to both UAB and NC State. NC State and UAB are both undefeated and will play for the top seed tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. ET. UK will take on UKMC at 1:00 p.m. ET.



    Eight-Run Third Inning Vaults LSU Softball Past Mississippi State

    BATON ROUGE, La. – Dylan Supak provided a 2-for-4 performance, and the go-ahead two-run single during an eight-run third inning as the LSU softball turned the tables to pick up a 10-7 victory over Mississippi State Friday to open a three-game SEC weekend series at Tiger Park.

    LSU (17-8, 2-1 SEC) extended its winning streak to 18 games over Mississippi State (17-10, 3-5 SEC) dating back to the 2005 season.

    “It was nice to see us continue to score and keep putting the pressure on [after the third inning],” head coach Beth Torina said. “I thought Jacee Blades really stepped up for us tonight filling in at centerfield. Heidi Pizer earned that start tonight [at first base]. She’s been doing a lot of things really well in practice – she’s been working really hard. So I thought she deserved that opportunity tonight, and she proved me right. All of her work definitely paid off.”

    Rachele Fico grinded out six-plus innings of work and surrendered just two earned runs on eight hits. She notched four strikeouts against four walks and improved to 8-4 on the season.

    Kylie Vry was touched up for seven runs on seven hits in her two-plus frames of action and fell to 5-4.

    “It’s funny how things work out,” Torina said. “We just talked about how Rachele had great stuff on Wednesday against Auburn and doesn’t get the win. Tonight, she maybe didn’t have her best stuff but still found a way to win. And I think that’s the sign of a good pitcher – even when you don’t have your best stuff, you still find a way to win.”

    Down 4-1 in the third inning, the Tigers sent 12 batters to the dish and were ignited by Heidi Pizer, Ashley Applegate and Jacee Blades consecutive singles to fill the bases. A Vry illegal pitch made it 4-2 before an Ashley Langoni walk reloaded the bases.

    Allison Falcon ripped a RBI single to left field to pull LSU back to within 4-3 before Dylan Supak deposited a 1-0 offering for a two-run single to vault the Tigers to a 5-4 edge.

    The Bulldogs turned to Lindsey Dunlap out of the bull pen. She proceeded to plunk Kailey McCasland, Tammy Wray and Morgan Russell in succession to allow LSU to grab a 7-4 advantage.

    Two batters later, MSU second baseman Heidi Shape committed a two-base error to cap the frame and extend the Tigers lead to 9-4.

    “Coach [Torina] always says we need to have an answer for them,” Supak said. “If the other team comes out and has a good inning, then we’ll come out and have a better inning. And I feel like tonight we definitely had that answer that Coach [Torina] is talking about. Hitting is contagious. When you see a couple of people get on before you, you have that much more confidence when you get in the [batter’s] box.”

    LSU added another run during the fifth inning and went ahead 10-4 on a Langoni bases loaded free pass.

    The Bulldogs received RBI singles from Jessica Offutt and Kaili Smith in the sixth inning to slice the LSU advantage down to 10-6. MSU tacked on another run during the seventh inning and had the tying run on deck.

    Brittany Mack entered the game in relief and recorded consecutive strikeouts to secure the 10-7 victory. For Mack, it was her third career save. The two Ks also allowed the senior right-hander to surpass Cody Trahan for fifth place on the program’s all-time strikeout list.   

    “Before I went out there, I went to [Rachele] Fico and told her that this one was going to be for her,” Mack said. “She worked her butt off all game long, and she definitely deserved this win. I was going to make sure she got it.”

    Mississippi State struck for a quartet of unearned runs aided by three LSU errors during the first two innings to race out to a 4-1 spread. The Tigers scored their run in the home half of first inning as Applegate connected for a leadoff single, went to second base on a passed ball, moved to third base on a Blades ground out and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.

    “Come out with a little bit better defense,” Supak said. “We’d like to come out with an errorless ball game. I think that would be a really good goal to come out with. We just need to keep swinging like we have and keep pitching the way we are because our pitchers are doing something right.”

    Game two of the series is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. with live video, live audio and live stats inside the Geaux Zone on LSUsports.net. The game also will be carried live Country Legends 104.9 FM in the Baton Rouge area with Patrick Wright and Kent Low set to call the action.

    Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter.
     
    LSU will honor 18 former Alumnae leading into Saturday's middle game. The first 1,000 fans will receive a LSU drawstring bag and green K cards.

    As part of Brittany Mack's "Geaux Play" initiative, LSU softball is encouraging fans to share the gift of sports with special needs children. Fans can donate new or gently used sports equipment during the remaining LSU softball home games at Tiger Park. For more information, visit LSUsports.net/geauxplay.

    All items collected will be given directly to the Miracle League Association and six local schools that Mack will visit during the season. At LSU's series finale versus Ole Miss on April 22, Mack will invite all the children to the game as her special VIP guests for "Geaux Play" day at Tiger Park.

    The Tiger Park Ticket Booth will open 90 minutes prior to first pitch each day. Fans can purchase tickets on-site starting at $5 for adult general admission and $3 for youth ages 3-12. Tickets also are available online at www.LSUtix.net.

    Season ticket holders will have their tickets scanned upon entrance to Tiger Park. The LSU Athletics Ticket Office urges season ticket holders to be cautious when separating their bar-coded tickets. The barcode must be attached to the ticket when arriving at the gate. If the barcode detaches, season ticket holders must stop by the LSU Athletics Ticket Office on the first floor of the Athletics/Administration Building for a reprint of their tickets.