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    SEC Sunday Softball Update

    SOFTBALL RESULTS
    UAB 20, Kentucky 7
    Tennessee 2, Arkansas 0
    Georgia 4, Auburn 2
    Florida 7, South Carolina 3 
    Alabama 12, Ole Miss 1
    LSU 4, Mississippi State 0

    Wildcats Hit Three Homers in Loss to UAB

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Three Kentucky softball players went yard in a five-inning loss to UAB in the final game of the UK Invitational on Sunday afternoon. Seniors Erika Silence, Rachel Riley and sophomore Krystal Smith all blasted a homer for the Blue and White.

    UK will travel to Western Kentucky for a mid-week battle on Wed., March 21 with a 7 p.m. ET first pitch.

    In the top of the first, UK charted three runs to take the early lead. Junior Kara Dill led off the game with a four-pitch walk, which was followed by senior Brittany Cervantes reaching on an error on a sac bunt attempt. The runners quickly advanced to second and third on a double steal. Dill was brought home to score the Wildcats first run on a sacrifice fly to left from the bat of sophomore Ginny Carroll. Sophomore Lauren Cumbess plated two-RBI with a single up the middle to bring home Cervantes and freshman Griffin Joiner.

    In the bottom of the first, the Blazers totaled four runs in the frame on four hits to take a 4-3 advantage. 

    To lead off the top of the second frame, Smith belted her second home run of the year to left center, and crossed the plate for the fifth time this season to tie the game back up at 4-4. Cervantes blistered a ball to left field for a stand-up double with two outs in the inning and came around to score on a deep home run by Riley to give the Wildcats the 6-4 lead in a back-and-forth battle.

    The Blazers responded with four more runs in the home half of the second to recapture a lead it would never relinquish.

    Silence smacked a solo shot to lead off the top of the fifth for the game’s final tally.

    With the loss Kentucky falls to 12-15 on the season and UAB improves to 16-10 on the young season. UAB hit five home runs en route to a 20-7 win in five innings of play.

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    #9 TENNESSEE SOFTBALL REBOUNDS FROM LOSS TO TAKE SERIES AT ARKANSAS, 2-0

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – On Sunday afternoon at Bogle Park in Fayetteville, Ark., the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad (19-6, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) got a solo HR from junior second baseman Lauren Gibson, a RBI triple from junior right fielder Kat Dotson and another three-hit shutout from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe in topping Arkansas (18-9, 2-6 SEC), 2-0.

    Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne (2-for-3) and senior catcher Ashley Andrews (2-for-3, run) each recorded two of Tennessee’s eight total hits in the match-up.  Gibson’s HR was her team-leading eighth of the campaign, while Dotson was 1-for-4 with the RBI triple.  Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman was 1-for-2 with two intentional walks while freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango was 1-for-3.

    Renfroe walked two and struck out eight during her 13th complete game effort and 11th solo shutout of the campaign.  The 6-0 right hander also improved her season mark to 14-1 overall and 3-1 in SEC action.

    Tennessee managed a pair of base runners in the top of the first but left a pair stranded on the bags.  Chavanne started off the frame by beating out an infield single and quickly swiped second to reach scoring position.  With one retired the Arkansas coaching staff made the decision to intentionally walk Shipman, and the move paid off as an infield pop-up and a fly ball concluded the threat with no damage.

    The Razorbacks got off to a promising start of their own in the bottom of the first as third baseman Chloe Oprzedek laced a shot down into the right field corner for a one-out triple.  Shortstop Clarisa Navarro bounced a ball to the left of Chavanne at third, but UT’s Thousand Oaks, Calif., native managed to corral the sphere on the way by.  She pivoted quickly and fired a strike to the plate as catcher Andrews applied the tag to keep UA off the board.  Renfroe ended the once promising Arkansas threat by catching designated player Sierra Bronkey looking at strike three.

    Singles from both Tarango and Andrews granted the Big Orange another scoring opportunity in the top of the second, but again the big hit just wouldn’t materialize.  Chavanne blasted a promising shot deep into the outfield, but it was caught near the warning track as the Lady Vols’ left stranded count expanded to four over the opening two frames.  

    Renfroe settled things down from the circle in the bottom of the third.  The Jackson, Tenn., product posted back-to-back strikeouts of center fielder Tori Mort and left fielder Devon Wallace before getting a slow roller to second to end the quick half-inning.

    The Big Orange finally got on the board in the top of the fourth as Gibson blasted her eighth HR of the campaign via a solo shot out of Bogle Park for a 1-0 lead.

    Beginning the top of the fifth, a dropped throw at first base allowed UT’s Andrews to reach safely.  A perfect bunt off Chavanne’s bat placed a pair of speedsters on the base paths with still no one retired.  Unfortunately, back-to-back strikeouts and a pop-up back to Arkansas starting pitcher Chelsea Cohen in the circle left the duo where they stood.

    A one-out walk by UA catcher Jayme Gee in the bottom of the fifth ended a string of nine consecutive Razorbacks retired by Renfroe.  The free pass didn’t matter, however, as the Lady Vol pitcher eventually struck out the side, recording K’s of first baseman Megan Pearson, second baseman Maddie Reese and Mort to up her total to seven over the initial five frames.

    Arkansas left fielder Devon Wallace christened the bottom of the sixth with a promising blooper into right center.  Newly entered into the match-up for her defensive prowess, sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis raced over from her defensive position and slid to make a terrific “web gem” basket catch, keeping the Razorback lead-off hitter from reaching.  From there Renfroe induced consecutive ground balls from Oprzedek and Navarro to maintain UT’s tenuous one-run advantage heading into the final inning.

    The Big Orange got some valuable insurance on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh, and it all started with a lead-off base knock from Andrews.  A passed ball on Arkansas’ catcher Gee and a sac bunt by Chavanne moved Andrews within 60 feet of pay dirt.  The Tumwater, Wash., native was soon cashed in on a RBI triple off the bat of Dotson as Tennessee improved its lead to 2-0.

    Bronkey kept UA hopes alive in the bottom of the seventh by blooping a lead-off single just in front of Baker in left field.  Once Geile followed with a base knock just under Renfroe’s glove and through the middle of the infield, the Razorbacks had the potential winning run at the plate with still none retired.  Pearson lifted a shot into right center field that was tracked down on the run by junior Whitney Hammond for the first out.  Gee grounded to Shipman at short and then Renfroe completed the contest in style by posting her eight strikeout as Tennessee took the series, two-games-to-one.  

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    No. 8 Georgia Grabs 4-2 Win Against No. 18 Auburn

    ATHENS, Ga.—The No. 8 University of Georgia softball team (23-5, 4-2) took the rubber match against No. 18 Auburn (23-6, 2-3) on Sunday, as the Bulldogs grabbed a 4-2 win at Jack Turner Stadium.

    Senior Erin Arevalo (9-2) notched the win, as she gave up three hits while striking out six in a complete game. Auburn’s Angel Bunner (9-2) took the loss after she came in for relief to give up one hit in 0.2 innings of work. Lauren Schmalz started the game for the Tigers to give up one hit while Jenee Loree gave up the four runs in 3.1 innings, but only one would be earned.

    Senior Kristyn Sandberg went 2-for-2 on the day while senior Ashley Pauly and freshman Paige Wilson each tallied one double for their hit.

    Auburn put up the game’s first runs in the top of the sixth courtesy of a two-run bomb by Caitlin Jordan. The first baseman brought in Brandi Melero who reached first on a single to right and moved to second on an Elizabeth Eisterhold sacrifice bunt.

    The Bulldogs immediately answered in the bottom half of the inning to make it a 4-2 ballgame. After Pauly’s double to left center, Sandberg took a shot to left field to give Georgia its first run of the game. With pinch runner Tiesha Reed on third after a passed ball and Macie Couey coming in at first after an Ashley Razey walk, Brittney Hubbard’s at-bat resulted in an Auburn error, allowing Reed to tie the game at 2. Wilson then stepped up for a two-out two-run double to left center to clinch the victory.

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    No. 1 Softball Sweeps Mississippi with 12-1 Win

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The top-ranked Alabama softball team used a leadoff home run from junior Kayla Braud to spark its offense early and cruise to a 12-1 victory in five innings over Mississippi at Rhoads Stadium Sunday afternoon. With the victory, the Crimson Tide improves to a perfect 25-0 overall and 6-0 in Southeastern Conference play.

    The 25-0 start equals the second best start in school history as the Crimson Tide rattled off 25 wins to start the season in 2007.

    Alabama has now scored eight or more runs 16 times this season and plated 10 or more eight times. UA earned its 23rd straight win over Mississippi and has put double-digits on the board five straight times against the division foe.

    Sophomore Jackie Traina moved her unblemished record to 15-0 on the season. The right-hander allowed one run on two hits and struck out six without issuing a walk. Traina retired the last 13 batters of the contest, not allowing a hit after the first inning. 

    Braud paced the Tide at the plate with two hits and two RBI. Traina helped her own cause by driving in two runs and scoring once. Jennifer Fenton reached base twice and stole two bases to move her thefts to a perfect 16-for-16 this season.

    After giving up a run in the first the Tide instantly powered its way to a 3-1 lead. Braud hit the first home run for Alabama to start a game since Kelley Montalvo went deep against Louisiana Tech on March 27, 2007. The home run was her first of the season.

    Fenton then increased the lead after drawing a walk, stealing a base and scoring on a passed ball. Locke then blasted a solo shot over the wall in right-center, moving her season total to seven home runs.

    UA added to its lead with two more runs in the second inning. After Conley reached on a single to left-center, she came all the way around to score on a failed pickoff play at first. Fenton then scored again, stealing her second base of the game and moving to third on an error before senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia knocked her home.

    Alabama put the game away with two runs in the third and five more in the fourth. Freshman Danae Hays had a RBI single up the middle in the third and Braud singled off the pitcher for another run in the frame.

    Traina drove in two in the fourth and was followed by an RBI single by freshman Jadyn Spencer and a groundout RBI by junior Lauren Sewell. Junior Keima Davis then scorched a double into the wall in right to plate sophomore Jordan Patterson.

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    Gator Softball Sweeps South Carolina, 7-3, Sunday 

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Seven Gators collaborated for 10 hits Sunday, as the No. 4 Florida softball team completed its eighth straight series sweep over South Carolina with a 7-3 finale at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. A total of 1,218 Gator fans came out to witness UF’s 26th straight victory over the Gamecocks (19-12, 2-6 SEC).

    In this weekend’s 19-inning series, Florida allowed just four runs, while scoring 17, and were led by freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.), who batted .556 with five hits, two doubles, a homer and six RBI through the three-game set.

    The Orange and Blue improved to 26-2 overall, 7-1 in league play with Sunday’s win as Haeger and Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) both had multiple-hit performances, Haeger with three hits (3-for-4) and S. Fagan with two (2-for-3). Haeger scored a run and drove three in, while S. Fagan scored three and drove in one
    herself.

    All nine Gator starters reached base during Sunday’s contest, led by Haeger’s RBI single in the first inning for UF’s first score, a dinger to left field in the third inning, and a RBI double in the sixth inning. In the third stanza, sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) also went yard right after Haeger, with a freshman Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) walk sandwiched in between. Coyle drove herself and Castro in as Florida quickly went up, 4-0, after three.

    For the 11th tilt this season, the UF lineup collaborated for a double-digit hit performance. Along with Haeger, S. Fagan, Castro and Coyle, three other Gator sluggers connected for a hit, including junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.), sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and first year Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.).

    Florida played stellar defensively, turning a double play in the sixth, while coming up with several clutch defensive plays from Coyle, Damico and freshman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) in the infield. The Gators took advantage of South Carolina early on with four straight balls that resulted in an S. Fagan walk, and a USC throwing error that put her and Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) both in scoring position to start the game. On the next play, Haeger singled through the left side to plate S. Fagan for UF’s initial score.
     
    The third inning production from the Florida offense was clutch as the Orange and Blue scored three runs off four hits. Haeger started the frame with a two-out solo shot over the left-field fence, quickly followed by a Castro base hit. Coyle tacked on another two runs for the Gators after belting her seventh round-tripper of the year over the left-field wall for two more Gator runs.

    The Gamecocks got on the board in the top of the fourth after a Kaela Jackson leadoff single up the middle, while pinch runner Hannah Milks advanced to second on a sac bunt and came home on a Kaitlin Westfall RBI double to narrow the margin, 4-1.

    Damico led off the fourth for the Gators with a base hit to turn over the lineup before S. Fagan batted her in with a triple, then proceeded with a score of her own after a Moultrie sac fly for the 6-1 Florida lead. In the bottom of the sixth, S. Fagan doubled to right center before scoring one more time for the Gators on a Haeger double to left field for UF’s final seven runs.

    South Carolina put up a fight in the seventh after Lauren Lackey connected for a one-out double, enabling an Evan Childs two-run bomb to left center that brought herself and Lackey home for the 7-3 final. Florida sophomore righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Calif.) fanned Chelsea Hawkins, allowed a Jackson walk, but then popped Dana Hathorn up to get out of the inning for the Gator win.

    Freshman hurler Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) earned the nod in the circle for the Orange and Blue, working the first 3.0, giving up just two hits and two walks, while retiring three Gamecocks by strikeout before Rogers (14-1) came on in the fourth to finish out the final four frames for the win. Rogers battled it out, but gave up seven USC hits and the Gamecocks’ three runs. The Gators’ ace gave up two walks and fanned one.

    First year Katelynn Howser (8-3) shouldered the loss for South Carolina in the circle after giving up seven of Florida’s 10 hits, five runs and three walks, while fanning just two in two different appearances Sunday. Howser earned the start and worked the first 2.2 before being relieved by Kierstyn White for one and a third, and then coming on again in the fifth for the final 2.0.

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    LSU Softball Completes Weekend Sweep of Mississippi State

    BATON ROUGE – The LSU softball team rode the right-arm of Rachele Fico as the junior hurler compiled her seventh shutout of the season during a 4-0 win over Mississippi State Sunday at Tiger Park.

    LSU (19-8, 4-1 SEC) swept the weekend series from the Bulldogs (17-12, 3-7 SEC) and moved its winning streak to 20 consecutive games in the all-time series dating back to the 2005 season.

    Lauren Houston paced the LSU offense with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate, while Rikki Alcaraz scored two runs. Ashley Applegate and Heidi Pizer picked up the RBIs for the Tigers.

    “I couldn’t be happier about the entire weekend,” head coach Beth Torina said. “To be able to do it all short-handed, I thought it was a really, really great team effort for us. I thought a lot of people stepped up, a lot of people filled in. I’m really proud of how they responded to that. They didn’t let it affect them or get them down. They just came out and did the best we could with who we had.”

    Fico tossed a three-hitter and improved to 9-4 on the season. The Oxford, Conn., native equaled a season-high and issued six walks versus two strikeouts.

    Stephanie Becker fell to 9-5 after she gave up three runs, one earned, on three hits in her 3.2 innings of work. She also allowed four walks against three Ks.

    “This is huge for our team,” Fico said. “We really needed the sweep this weekend, and we did just that. When we have the opportunity to come in and not only win a series but sweep a series, we really need to capitalize on that because if we’re looking to win an SEC conference title, we need to sweep teams when we have that opportunity.”

    The Tigers used a two-out rally to dent the scoreboard first during the second inning. Alcaraz coaxed a four-pitch walk, and Houston kept the frame alive with her hustle on an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop. That set up Tammy Wray, who reached on a fielding error by Becker. The ball squirted away from Becker towards the first base line. Becker and Wray collided which allowed Alcaraz to sprint across home plate from second base to place LSU ahead 1-0.

    LSU struck for two additional runs in the fourth inning. Pinch hitter Ashleigh Kuhn ripped a leadoff single to right field and advanced to second base after a one-out Alcaraz walk. Once again, Houston legged out an infield single to fill the bases. Two batters later, Heidi Pizer notched a RBI walk followed by a fielding error by MSU shortstop Erin Nesbit to make it 3-0.

    “When you have the opportunity, you have to jump on it, especially in SEC play when those opportunities get pretty rare,” Pizer said. “So to capitalize on those mistakes, base runners, errors, and passed balls – like we did this weekend – was really, really important for us.”

    LSU manufactured another run during the sixth inning. Wray worked her way to a one-out free pass. Pinch runner Alex Boulet raced her way into second base on a bang-bang fielder’s choice play and stole third base before coming around to score on an Ashley Applegate ground ball for the 4-0 final margin.
    Mississippi State placed runners on-base during six of the seven innings, but the Bulldogs stranded all nine runners. Fico was extremely tough and limited MSU to a 0-for-12 clip with runners on.

    “When we started this season, we knew that our pitching staff was going to be the deal breaker – they were going to be who carried us throughout the year,” Torina said. “I like some of the things that the offense is doing – they’re showing some sparks. I think that we’re getting some big defensive plays in key moments from people. So the whole team is a factor for sure.”

    LSU wraps up its season’s long 10-game homestand Wednesday versus Georgia Tech with its inaugural “Pack the Park” contest. All tickets are $1, and the first 1,000 fans will receive a LSU softball roll banner.