No. 4 Florida Softball Takes Series at No. 9 Georgia
|sunday sec softball RESULTS
|Florida 6, Georgia 3
|Ole Miss 6, Auburn 1
|Tennessee 4, Kentucky 2
|Alabama 9, Miss. State 3
|LSU 3, Arkansas 2
ATHENS, Ga. – The No. 4 Gator softball squad used a three-run, three-homer fourth inning to propel Florida to a 6-3 series clincher over the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs Sunday at a packed Jack Turner Stadium in Athens. In front of a crowd of 1,644, Florida won its fifth-consecutive SEC series, improving to 31-4 overall on the season and 12-2 in conference play.
For the second-consecutive day, and with UF down two runs in the fourth, sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) knocked a round-tripper, her team-leading ninth of the season, while sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) joined the party, making it back-to-back bombs to knot the game at two-all in the top of the inning. With two outs on the board in the same stanza, junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) blasted UF’s third long ball of the inning, the game-winning RBI, which gave the Orange and Blue a 3-2 lead it wouldn’t give up.
Florida went on to add three more runs, out-hitting Georgia, 11-5, for its fourth double-digit hit game in Southeastern Conference play and tying for its most in league play since March 10 at Tennessee. Eight Gator batters connected for a hit Sunday, including three two-hit performances from Coyle, freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.).
After playing 11 of its first 14 SEC games on the road, the Gators will return home to the Sunshine State for the entire month of April, with just two mid-week games at FSU and UCF April 4 and 11, respectively. The Orange and Blue will play host to Ole Miss, Auburn, FIU, LSU and Kentucky in the next month before heading to Alabama for the last regular-season league series of the year May 4-6, followed by the SEC Tournament in Tuscaloosa.
Sophomore hurlers Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) and Morgan Montemayor started the game for the Gators and Bulldogs, respectively. Rogers went the distance for Florida, improving to 17-2 on the season, giving up just five UGA hits, one earned run, while walking three and fanning eight Bulldogs, her most since her March 7 outing at Mississippi State.
After Florida’s two-homer fourth, the Dawgs exchanged Montemayor after 3.0 innings for Tess Sito, who worked an inning before senior Erin Arevalo came on to finish it out for the Bulldogs. Montemayor gave up three hits, two runs, one walk and tallied a strikeout, while Sito (7-1) succumbed to four Gator hits and two runs, while also walking one and shouldering the loss for UGA. Through the final 3.0, Arevalo also allowed four UF hits, two runs and walked one with four strikeouts.
Georgia jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second, capitalizing on a Gator defensive error that allowed Kristyn Sandberg to score from first, while adding one on a RBI double by Ashley Razey to work Ashley Pauly, who drew a one-out walk, around the bags and home for a 2-0 Bulldog advantage.
UF rallied for a three-run, four-hit fourth inning and for the second time this season, the Gators strung together consecutive homers through the splurge. Florida evened the game at 2-2, thanks to Coyle’s bomb, followed by Haeger’s long ball to lead off the top of the fourth, while a two-out shot from Gammel gave Florida the lead for good.
The Orange and Blue added an insurance run in the fifth after senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) reached on a leadoff free pass, while S. Fagan dropped a bunt single for two runners on and no outs. Coyle continued her stellar day, roping a RBI double down the left-field line before UGA made its second pitching change from Sito to Arevalo. Arevalo was effective, fanning two and forcing a pop out, but not before UF took a 4-2 lead.
Georgia threatened in the bottom of the fifth with bases loaded and no outs after a dropped third strike, a UGA base hit from Pauly and a Razey walk. The Bulldogs plated one on a Sandberg fielder’s choice that allowed Wilson to score, unearned, to narrow the UF margin, 4-3, but Rogers and the Florida defense rallied in the pressure situation for a fly out and another fielder’s choice for the final two outs of the frame.
The Gators added to their lead in the sixth, doing damage with two outs in the top of the frame, as sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) reached on a two-out infield single to turn over the UF lineup. Georgia opted to intentionally walk Moultrie and S. Fagan made the Bulldogs pay with a two-out two-RBI double to the left-center wall that plated both Fagan and Moultrie to make it a 6-3 ballgame.
Ole Miss Defeats Auburn, 6-1
OXFORD, Miss. – Senior Kendall Bruning allowed just two hits and one run in seven innings of work as Ole Miss knocked off No. 24 Auburn 6-1 in the final game of the series on Sunday. It was the first win over a ranked team for the Rebels this season.
Bruning held the Tigers hitless for the first six innings until a leadoff double from right fielder Amber Harrison broke up the no-hit bid. First baseman Caitlin Jordan followed with a single up the middle that scored Harrison for Auburn’s first and only run of the game. Bruning (12-9) picked up the complete-game win after striking out five.
Ole Miss grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first after first baseman Londen Ladner drove in Brittany Broome, who reached on a bunt single early in the inning, on an RBI fielder’s choice and shortstop Allison Brown added an RBI sac fly later in the frame for the Rebels second run.
The Rebels loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth on three base-on-balls before designated player Erinn Jayjohn grounded to Tiger third baseman Caitlin Schultze, who booted the ground ball and allowed Broome to score from third. Catcher Marina Parra then singled to third and knocked in pinch runner Jayla Hubbard to put the Rebels up 4-0 after five.
Leadoff hitter Corrine Doornberg reached on a bunt single with one down in the bottom of the sixth and moved to third after Broome singled to Auburn left fielder Maris Medina, who misplayed the ball and allowed both runners to move into scoring position. RT Cantillo then lined a single to center that plated Doornberg and pulled off a double steal with Broome, who stole home and made it 6-0 Rebels. Doornberg finished the day 2-of-4 with two runs, while Broome was 3-for-3 at the plate with three singles and three runs scored.
BURCHELL’S WALK-OFF HR BEATS RAIN AS #9 TENNESSEE SOFTBALL TOPS KENTUCKY, 4-2
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – With heavy rain just a few minutes from delaying things on Sunday for the second straight afternoon at Lee Softball Stadium, senior designated player Shelby Burchell beat the weather by blasting a two-run, walk-off HR as the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (27-8, 9-5 Southeastern Conference) secured a series victory over Kentucky, 4-2.
For Burchell, the homer marked her first of the campaign, as part of a 1-for-2, two-RBI effort, the 25th of her career in the Orange & White and proved remarkably similar to the walk-off blast the Columbia, Tenn., native registered back in the 2011 SEC Tournament Championship Game in Oxford, Miss.
”I just went up to the plate thinking that I needed to do my job,” Burchell said. “I knew my teammates had my back, and that my teammates in front of me had posted great at-bats. I didn’t want to be the weak link, so I wanted to go in there and do what I’d been doing all day. See the pitches, wait for my pitch and drive it.”
Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson was 2-for-3 at the plate, scoring two runs while blasting her team-leading 10th HR of the season in the bottom of the third. Sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis was 2-for-3 overall as the Tennessee offense out-hit the Wildcats by an 8-5 total.
In the circle sophomore Ellen Renfroe improved to 19-2 overall and 7-2 in conference action, allowing one run on one hit with a walk and two strikeouts over 2.2 frames of relief. Junior Ivy Renfroe started the contest, permitting a single tally on four hits with no walks and four K’s in 4.1 innings.
“Today was a huge win, because Kentucky is a much better team than its record indicates,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Karen Weekly said. “We knew that coming into this weekend, and in our opinion, they are the best under .500 team in the country without question. They are going to make some serious noise in the postseason. It was really big for us to get this seventh-inning comeback. It seems like we’ve been on the other end of those at times this year. After Friday night, our team really needed this win today.”
Ivy Renfroe picked up right where she left off in Saturday’s five-inning shutout effort, requiring just eight pitches to retire shortstop Kara Dill, third baseman Brittany Cervantes and designated player Rachel Riley in order during the top of the first via a pair of ground balls and a strikeout.
An infield single and the team-best 16th stolen base of the season from junior third baseman Raven Chavanne got the Big Orange offense off to a quick start in the bottom of the first. Unfortunately, a pair of pop-ups from junior right fielder Kat Dotson and sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman and a ground ball off the bat of Gibson left the UT speedster stranded in scoring position as the opening frame concluded at 0-0.
The Wildcats managed their initial base knock of the contest with two outs in the top of the second as first baseman Lauren Cumbess delivered a single deep into the hole at short. She never moved from there, however, as second baseman Krystal Smith went down swinging for Ivy Renfroe’s second K of the match-up.
The Big Orange missed a huge scoring opportunity in the bottom of the second, leaving the bases loaded. The frame began with Burchell reaching on catcher’s interference, followed by a walk to junior first baseman Melissa Brown. Wildcat pitcher Chanda Bell retired the next two hitters but a Lewis single to center put Lady Vols on each base. Unfortunately it was all for naught, with Chavanne hitting a grounder to first that was tossed home by Cumbess to register the third out.
A lead-off double into right center by Kentucky’s Emily Jolly started a scoring opportunity for the Blue & White in the top of the third. Following a strikeout of left fielder Ellen Weaver, Dill hit a chopper over Brown at first and down the line for a RBI two-bagger as Jolly crossed for a 1-0 lead. A wild pitch advanced a runner within 60 feet of pay dirt, but she remained right there as Cervantes went down swinging for the second time in the contest and Riley popped out harmlessly to second.
The Lady Vols answered right UK’s score right back in bottom of the third via the long ball. With two retired in the frame, Gibson saw a pitch she liked, drilling her team-leading 10th HR of the season out of Lee Stadium to dead-lock the match-up at 1-1.
A one-out single through the middle of the infield during Kentucky’s half of the fifth by Jolly ended Ivy Renfroe’s stint in the circle as sister Ellen entered in relief. Weaver blasted a drive deep to left but just foul as newly-entered defensive sub Whitney Hammond tracked the ball down on the run near the track. Tennessee made a choice to walk Dill intentionally to get to Cervantes, and the move paid dividends as UK’s all-time leading HR hitter lifted a fly ball that Lewis tracked down in center to end the threat.
Tennessee quickly got a runner aboard in the bottom of the fifth as a result of a Dotson base knock. Following a strikeout, Gibson advanced Dotson up to second by lacing a single into the outfield with just one out. After a Burchell sac bunt, good fortune aided UT in taking the lead as Brown hit a sharp grounder to second but the throw was low and couldn’t be handled by Cumbess, allowing Dotson to cross for a 2-1 advantage.
Suddenly in possession of a lead to protect, Ellen Renfroe did her part, retiring the Wildcats one-two-three in the sixth. Riley and right fielder Ginny Carroll struck out against the 6-0 right hander and Joiner chopped out to short as UT maintained its one-run lead.
With Kentucky facing its last opportunity in the top of the seventh, Cumbess got the ‘Cats off to a promising start with a first-pitch single back through the middle. A sacrifice bunt advanced pinch runner Sarah Frazer to second, while a grounder to Chavanne at third placed Frazer 60 feet from pay dirt. That proved big as Ellen Renfroe uncorked a wild pitch to the backstop, allowing Frazer to scamper home and dead-lock the scoreboard at 2-2. Two pitches later Weaver flew out to centerfielder Lewis to conclude the half-inning.
Shipman nearly contributed the late-inning heroics by sending the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into center field, but came up just a bit short as Kara Howard caught the ball in the middle of the warning track. Gibson gave the Big Orange a base runner after Bell plunked her with a 1-0 offering. Burchell then stepped to the dish and rocketed a 2-1 pitch out of Lee Stadium to give the Lady Vols the walk-off victory.
LSU Completes Arkansas Sweep with Dramatic Comeback
BATON ROUGE – Ashley Applegate delivered a clutch two-run single with the bases loaded during the bottom of the 6th inning to propel the LSU softball team to a 3-2 comeback victory over Arkansas Sunday to complete a SEC series sweep playing in-front of a season’s best 1,426 fans at Tiger Park.
In the process, LSU (27-8, 10-1 SEC) pushed its season-high winning streak to 11 consecutive games. The Tigers also have emerged with victories in 16 of the last 17 meetings with Arkansas (18-16, 2-12 SEC). The 10-1 SEC start for LSU is the best since the 2000 season when the Tigers opened conference play with a 13-1 mark.
“They definitely fought hard for the win and fought hard to come back,” head coach Beth Torina said. “I think that’s a great thing to have in a team – just the ability to come back and the ability to fight. I think that will definitely help us down the road – way more than hits, errors, runs, all those things. The ability to have that fight and drive, I think that’s the key.”
Trailing 2-1 with one out in the sixth inning, LSU pieced together a trio of singles from Ashley Langoni, Juliana Santos and Allison Falcon to fill the bases. That set up Applegate, who crushed a 0-1 offering past the glove of Arkansas pitcher Kimmy Beasley. Langoni crossed the plate with the tying run, while Santos scooted home from second base and slid underneath the tag at home for the go-ahead run.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have wanted a different hitter up at that moment,” Torina said. “I just felt like she was seeing the ball so well today, and I just felt like she was going to get it done for us in that spot.”
“It feels great to be able to pull through for my teammates,” Applegate said. “I always want to go up there, do my best and to help the team any way that I can. It’s great because usually it’s the other way around. I’m used to being on the bases and them knocking me in. To be able to pull through for my teammates felt really great.”
Rachele Fico worked a routine 1-2-3 seventh inning to secure the 3-2 win for the Tigers. She moved to 13-4 on the season and garnered seven strikeouts versus two walks. Outside of the two solo home runs, the junior right-hander sat down 21 of the 24 batters she faced and didn’t allow Arkansas to reach scoring position.
“I think that throwing 14 innings for the weekend against Arkansas with the offense that they possess, for her to only give up six hits, that’s a pretty good performance,” Torina said. “We would’ve liked for two of them to not be home runs, of course two mistakes that she made. Ultimately, just six hits in 14 innings against an offense in the SEC – pretty solid pitching performances.”
LSU struck first with a run during the first inning. The Tigers capitalized on a fielding error by Razorback third baseman Chloe Oprezedek. Jacee Blades sprinted from first base to third base on a Langoni single through the right side. Santos followed with a RBI single up the middle to give LSU a 1-0 edge.
Arkansas responded with Andrea Sullivan and Clarisa Navarro solo home runs in the second and sixth innings, respectively, to grab a 2-1 advantage.
LSU’s offense received multi-hit efforts from Applegate, Langoni and Santos. Beasley was tagged for three runs, two earned, on seven hits to drop to 7-3 for the season.
“Obviously, we were struggling a little bit offensively,” Santos said. “But personally, I think that it was a little bit more for [Rachele] Fico. She’s had amazing outings for weeks upon weeks. Today she let them score just two runs. She missed two pitches so we just needed to come back and win it for Rachele because she’s just been doing so great, just like Brittany Mack and Meghan Patterson.”
Alabama Sweeps Mississippi State with 9-3 Win
STARKVILLE, Miss. – The second-ranked Alabama softball team swept the series against Mississippi State with a 9-3 victory, Sunday afternoon at the MSU Softball Stadium. With the win, the Crimson Tide improve to 35-1 overall and 12-1 in Southeastern Conference play.
Sophomore Kaila Hunt hit a home run while freshman Danae Hays recorded her first career grand slam to pace the Tide offense. Despite being outhit 9-6, Alabama used a six-run fourth inning to race past the Bulldogs (19-18, 3-13 SEC).
Sophomore Jackie Traina earned the win to improve to a perfect 21-0 on the season. Traina allowed two runs – one earned on seven hits while striking out five in six innings.
Alabama scored its 65th first inning run of the season, once again seizing the early advantage. Senior Jennifer Fenton was able to score on a senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia single after singling to start the game and stealing second.
After Mississippi State tied the game at one in the third inning, Alabama answered in a big way in the fourth. On the first pitch of the inning, Hunt hit her 14th home run of the season, a liner that ended up in the trees in left.
The Tide then loaded the bases and Hays cleared them with her first career grand slam, giving Alabama a 6-1 lead. Hunt struck again in the inning, this time expanding the lead to 7-1 on a sac-fly to center that scored junior Kayla Braud from third.
Reilly-Boccia added another run on the day for the Tide as she hit a sac-fly to right to score Braud from third. Braud started the inning with her third walk and then stole her second base of the game before making the score 8-2.
Braud ended the scoring on the day for the Tide as she drove in a bases loaded run in the seventh on a ground out to put the score at 9-2.