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    SEC Softball Today: April 7

    softBALL RESULTS
    Arkansas 13, Mississippi State 2
    Kentucky 7, South Carolina 0
    LSU 3, Alabama 2
    Florida 9, Ole Miss 1
    Tennessee 5, Auburn 3

    Arkansas wins in five with a grand slam

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas softball team defeated the Mississippi State Bulldogs 13-2 in five innings in the final game of the series improving its overall record to 19-18 and 3-14 in the Southeastern Conference. The Bulldogs, while losing the final game, did capture the series with two wins Friday and move their overall record to 21-19 and 3-14 in the SEC.

    “I was very pleased with our play today,” said head coach Mike Larabee. “We played some solid defense, our pitching was strong and I was happy to see that everyone contributed to this awesome win.”

    Arkansas began the third game of the series with some great defensive work in the top of the first, including a double play from Sierra Bronkey to Clarisa Navarro to Andrea Sullivan to end Mississippi State’s at bat.

    Navarro collected the first hit of the game for the Razorbacks when she grabbed a single up the middle. Junior Amanda Geile then blasted a home run over the right field wall to give Arkansas the 2-0 lead. The home run by Geile is her seventh of the year and third in SEC play, giving her the most of any Razorback this season, thus far. Navarro leads the Razorbacks at the plate with 44 hits on the season and 20 in SEC play. Both Navarro and Geile were perfect at the plate on the day going three for three.

    “The success to our hitting today was we swung at good hitting pitches,” said Larabee. “If we sit on good pitches we are a great hitting team, as you can see today.”

    The Bulldogs responded in the top of the second when Jessica Cooley hit a solo home run over the center field wall, making the score 2-1 in favor of Arkansas. Mississippi State then loaded the bases after a batter was walked, a single and another batter was hit by a pitch. Arkansas got out of the inning with a pop up catch by Navarro, forcing the Bulldogs to leave three runners on base.

    The Razorbacks recorded two more hits in the bottom of the second from Jayme Gee and Tori Mort. With Mort and Martindale, pinch running for Gee, on first and second, Wallace grabbed a single up the middle bringing in one run. Navarro followed with a single bringing in Wallace and Mort giving Arkansas the 5-1 lead.

    Cooley recorded her second solo home run on the game in the top of the third making it a 5-2 game.

    Sullivan added to the hitting spree in the bottom of the third when she blasted a home run over the center field wall with plenty of room to spare. She also brought in Geile who was on first after a single, giving the Razorbacks the 7-2 lead.

    Chelsea Cohen had a perfect inning in the top of the fourth striking out all three batters, catching two swinging and one looking.

    Chloe Oprzedek came up big at third base in the top of the fifth making a diving catch to put the batter out followed by a double play to end the Bulldogs at bat.

    Arkansas loaded the bases with zero outs in the bottom of the fifth after a single from Geile and Navarro followed by a walk for Sullivan. Bronkey added another single bringing in Navarro for another run, making it 8-2 with the bases still loaded. Jennifer Rambo collected her first sacrifice fly of the 2012 season bringing home Geile and making the score 9-2 Arkansas. The bases were loaded once again after pinch hitter Alyssa Bass was walked with still only one out on the inning. Gee cleared the bases and ended the game with a grand slam hit over the left field wall giving the Razorbacks the 13-2 victory in five innings.

    The Razorbacks are back in action on Wednesday when they travel to Lexington, Ky to take on the Wildcats of Kentucky in a doubleheader at 3/5 p.m.



    Riley Leads Wildcats to Series-Evening Victory

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Led by the bat and tremendous pitching from senior Rachel Riley the Kentucky softball team utilized a 7-0 win over South Carolina on Saturday afternoon to even the series with the Gamecocks. Riley homered and tossed her first shutout victory of the season with five strikeouts while paving the way for the Blue and White.

    Senior Brittany Cervantes also went yard for the second consecutive game and freshman Griffin Joiner drove in three runs to aid the Wildcat cause.

    Kentucky improves to 17-21 and 4-7 in the Southeastern Conference with the win. South Carolina falls to 23-17 and 3-10 in league action. The rubber match between the two teams will take place at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon. UK will look to win its second series of the season in tomorrow’s contest.

    “Riley was outstanding on the mound today,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “She did a great job of locating her pitches. To have five strikeouts is great. She got people out in key situations and was great all day.”

    With the win, Riley improves to 5-6 on the season as the Bowling Green, Ky., native went the distance, allowing only five hits and striking out five batters while also recording her first shutout of the season. South Carolina pitcher Katelynn Howser picked up the loss to fall to 8-5.

    After Riley retired the Gamecocks in the top of the opening frame, the Wildcats struck for a run to take the early lead. Cervantes led off the game with a walk, while junior Kara Dill advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt that turned into a Gamecock error, putting the runners at second and third with no outs. After a Riley walk to load the bases, Joiner drew a walk scoring Cervantes to give the Wildcats the 1-0 lead. UK left three runners on base to end the inning.

    In the bottom of the second, Cervantes extended the UK lead by two runs to 3-0 by virtue of a homer to deep center scoring sophomore Emily Jolly as well, who led off the inning with an infield single. The home run was the second in as many games for Cervantes, becoming the second player this season to connect for long balls in back-to-back games.

    UK tacked on an additional run in the bottom of the third to create even more separation at 4-0. Joiner led off the inning with a walk, becoming the third-consecutive lead-off hitter to reach base for UK. After Joiner took second on a stolen base, sophomore Lauren Cumbess drove in the freshman with a single through the left side.

    “We just took a better approach at the plate today.” Lawson said. “We are going to enjoy this win today and take this momentum into tomorrow.”

    With one out in the top of the fourth, and a runner at second for USC, Gamecock’s designated player Kaela Jackson laced a high drive to deep center that was caught by freshman Kara Howard up against the wall above her head. Howard then shuttled the throw all the way to Cervantes at third who doubled up Dana Hathorn at second base to get out of the jam.

    Kentucky added yet another run, scoring for the fourth-consecutive inning when Riley went deep to left center for her fifth homer of the year, and 22nd RBI on the season.

    Kentucky took a 7-0 lead in the fifth inning after Joiner recorded her second and third RBIs of the game when she hit a bullet to right-center for a double, scoring Cervantes and Dill who reached on a walk and single respectfully.



    No. 24 LSU Upends No. 2 Alabama, 3-2

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 24 LSU softball used a solid effort in all three phases of the game to even the series and pick up a hard-fought 3-2 victory over No. 2 Alabama Saturday in front of a Rhoads Stadium record crowd of 3,521 spectators.

    The Tigers (29-9, 11-2 SEC) ended a 13-game regular season winning streak by the home team in the series dating back to the 2007 season and drew even with Alabama (36-2, 13-2 SEC) in the loss column at the top of the SEC Western Division standings.

    LSU has won four of the last five meetings with the Crimson Tide. It also marked the Tigers first win in Tuscaloosa since a 3-2 decision on April 15, 2006. Alabama was dealt just their second loss of the season joining a 5-2 setback against then-No. 11 Tennessee on March 21.

    “This was definitely one of our best games from start to finish that we’ve played all season,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Of course to beat a great team like Alabama, that’s the type of effort you have to play with for seven innings. It was huge for us to play ahead in such a hostile environment. When we’ve been able to jump on the scoreboard early, it puts us in a great mindset for the rest of the game.” 

    In the circle, Rachele Fico grinded her way to the complete game victory. The junior right-hander was just touched up for a quartet of hits and both of Alabama’s runs came via solo home runs. She notched nine strikeouts versus three walks and improved to 14-4 on the season. 

    “Rachele definitely got better as the game wore on,” Torina said. “She made the necessary adjustments according to things Alabama was hitting early in the game. I believe the ability to continue to give them different looks was the key to her magnificent pitching performance.”

    Ashley Langoni vaulted the Tigers ahead by a 2-0 margin during the first inning and cranked a two-run shot that sailed over the fence down the left field line. It was Langoni’s team-leading sixth dinger of the season and 29th career homer which puts her one away from tying Quinlan Duhon (2005-08) for fourth place on LSU’s all-time list.

    The Tigers held Alabama without a run in the home half of the frame aided by catcher Morgan Russell, who threw out Jennifer Fenton attempting to steal second base. It marked the first time Fenton was mowed down on the base paths since March 13, 2010, a span of a NCAA-record 74 consecutive steals. 

    The Crimson Tide was able to cut the advantage down to 2-1 after an Amanda Locke first-pitch, solo home run with one out in the second inning.

    LSU responded right back with a two-out rally during the third inning. Langoni and Juliana Santos worked their way to consecutive walks to set the table for Allison Falcon. On a 2-2 offering, Falcon smoked a RBI single into left centerfield to put the Tigers up 3-1.

    Alabama answered with a Fenton solo shot to straight-away centerfield with two outs in the third inning to make it 3-2.  

    “After allowing the two home runs, I knew I had to bear down,” Fico said. “My teammates were working so hard for me. I needed to make my pitches sharper and start generating some swings-and-misses. Coach Torina talked me threw it and really helped me get my mindset back on-track.” 

    Fico worked her way out of trouble and stranded runners during the fourth, fifth and sixth stanzas. She recorded six of her nine Ks over the final three inning highlighted by striking out the side in the fifth.

    Alabama’s bid to even the score during the seventh inning came up empty. On a 0-1 pitch, Jackie Traina hit a towering shot that went foul down the left field line. Four pitches later, Fico registered a strikeout of Traina for the second out of the inning.

    Kaila Braud’s chopping bunt attempt was fielded by third baseman Tammy Wray, who fired a strike to Falcon covering the first base to get the speedy Braud by a step for the final out of the game.  

    “This was a huge win for us,” Fico said. “We did everything that we had to do and played Tiger softball. As soon as I saw the ball hit to Tammy, I knew we were going to get the out. I’m so confident in her ability to play defensively at third base. She has such great, quick hands and possesses one of the best arms on the team so I knew that if she fielded the ball cleanly, she was going to throw Braud out.”

    The Crimson Tide’s Leslie Jury was tagged with the loss and fell to 10-2 for the season. She yielded three runs on three hits in her 3.1 innings of work.

    The rubber game of the series is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. with 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 Matt Dunaway set to call the action.

    The series finale will be televised on Fox Sports Network along with ESPN3.com. Dave Baker and Cheri Kempf will serve as the announcing team.



    No. 6 Gator Softball Clinches Sixth-Consecutive SEC Series With 9-1 Run-Rule Over Ole Miss

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The No. 6 Florida softball team clinched its sixth-consecutive Southeastern Conference series with a five-inning, 9-1 triumph against the visiting Ole Miss Rebels in front of a season-high 1,457 Gator fans at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium Saturday afternoon.

    Freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) roped a RBI triple and laid down a bunt single to lead the Gators with a 2-for-3 performance to contribute to UF's five hits on the day. The Orange and Blue capitalized on seven free passes and had no Ks at the dish on the afternoon as the Gators tallied their 14th run-rule victory of the campaign.

    Florida sophomore ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) improved to 20-2 on the campaign,  tossing four innings-starting the game with three hitless frames-and surrendering a single run and two hits while punching out three Rebels. Freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) came on for the final frame, fanning one and allowing one Rebel hit that was lost in the sun.

    The Orange and Blue wasted no time getting on the board to put the game out of reach early with a three-hit six-run first inning to take a 6-0 lead heading to the second. With bases loaded after a senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) walk, a S. Fagan bunt single and a Haeger walk, sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) reached on a free pass to send UF's first run of the game across home, while a junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) ground out brought UF's second score across the dish with just one out on the board.

    The Gators rode the momentum, as freshman Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) loaded the bags again with Florida's fourth walk of the inning. Next up, junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) sent a sac fly to left field to plate Haeger for the 3-0 lead. Freshman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) got in on the action, roping a two RBI double to right center - her fourth of the year - before sophomore Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) extended her career-best hit streak to six games with a RBI single through the right side for the Gators' sixth run of the first stanza. K. Fagan then advanced to second on the throw and swiped third for her seventh stolen base of the season before a fly out ended UF's scoring splurge.

    After Medina's double, the Rebels opted to exchange starter Erinn Jayjohn for Kelly Chandler, who finished the game for Ole Miss. Jayjohn moved to 3-8 with the defeat, lasting two-thirds of an inning after giving up six runs on two hits and four walks. Chandler went the final 3.1 innings, giving up three Florida hits and runs, while walking three.

    Rebel sophomore RT Cantillo struck with a solo shot to put Ole Miss on the board in the top of the fourth with no outs, but a stellar play by Coyle at shortstop on a line out put one down for Ole Miss, while a fly out to K. Fagan in right field counted as the second out before designated player Jenna Hollencamp connected for Ole Miss' second and final hit of the game up the middle. Moultrie snagged a ball in center to retire the side, enabling the Gators to take a 6-1 lead to the bottom of the fourth.

    Florida struck again in the bottom half of the inning with a three-run frame, powered by S. Fagan's RBI triple, followed by a RBI double from Haeger for two more Gator runs, extending the lead, 8-1. A Coyle groundout with just one out on the board accounted for her second RBI of the afternoon when pinch runner Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) crossed home for the 9-1 Orange and Blue lead.

    With an eight-run lead heading to the fifth, Haeger took over pitching duties in the circle, while junior Sam Holle (Tampa, Fla.) entered at first and freshman Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) came in to play left field for the Gators. Haeger fanned one, allowed a tough-luck base hit when Natalie Nimmo skied a pop-up that was lost in the sun and dropped on the right side of the infield. Haeger retired the side with a Rebel groundout, clinching Florida's sixth-consecutive SEC series win.

    Florida and Ole Miss will take to the field for the series finale Sunday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. UF will aim for its second-consecutive sweep over Ole Miss.

    Gator fans can catch Sunday's games live on GatorVision.tv or tune in live locally or online to 104.9, 105 The Game, with the call by Gator play-by-play Adam Schick and analysis from former UF All-American Megan Bush.



    No. 9 Tennessee Outlasts Auburn, 5-3

    WATCH GAME HIGHLIGHTS HERE

    AUBURN, Ala. – In a crazy contest full of collisions and hit batters on Saturday at Jane B. Moore Field in Auburn, Ala., the #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad (30-9, 12-6 Southeastern Conference) got four more RBIs from sophomore clean-up hitter Madison Shipman and stellar relief work from sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe in outlasting Auburn (26-14, 5-10 SEC) in a 10-inning marathon, 5-3.

    The match-up was marred by a massive collision at home plate during the bottom of the third inning as Auburn’s Brooke Lathan ran into senior catcher Ashley Andrews, forcing a lengthy injury delay for the UT player and the ejection of the Tiger second baseman. 

    Shipman led the Lady Vol offense by going 2-for-5 at the dish with two runs scored, a triple, her sixth HR of the season and four RBIs, giving her a squad-best 45 RBIs in 2012.  The Valencia, Calif., native is hitting .375 during the series with a triple, two doubles and an impressive eight RBIs over two games.  Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson was 2-for-3 with a pair of tallies and a stolen base, junior right fielder Kat Dotson was 1-for-5 and junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 1-for-4 with her team-leading 18th stolen base of the campaign.

    Ellen Renfroe picked up her 21st victory of the season in relief, allowing just one hit with a walk and nine strikeouts over 6.0 innings of work.  Junior Ivy Renfroe permitted three runs on four hits while striking out three over 4.0 frames as the starter.

    “I’ve been coaching softball for 25 years in college, in the Olympics and all over the world, and I’ve never seen a collision like that at home plate,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said.  “Ashley (Andrews) is one tough player and the heart of our team, so I didn’t think we played as well as the game went on.  Madison (Shipman) is quickly becoming a go-to player for us, and she’s definitely leading us offensively right now.  I’m very proud of our kids for their effort in fighting back from a deficit and winning in 10 innings. ”

    Tennessee’s offense managed its initial hit of the contest in the top of the first as Gibson laced a two-out single through the infield.  Once again, the two-out magic made an appearance as Shipman crushed a two-run shot, her sixth HR of the season and second of the series, just over the wall at Jane B. Moore Field as the Big Orange nabbed a quick 2-0 lead.  That big fly meant that all 11 of UT’s tallies in the series to that point had come with two retired in a frame. 

    Auburn shortstop Lauren Guzman got the Tigers off to a promising start in the bottom of the first with a lead-off single just through the middle of the infield.  The 6-0 right hander wasn’t fazed by the opening hit, rebounding immediately to strikeout catcher Elizabeth Eisterhold.  A sacrifice bunt by designated player Hilary Mavromat advanced the AU runner into scoring position, but she remained at second as Ivy Renfroe struck out Lathan to conclude the inning.

    After the Lady Vols left a base runner stranded at third in the top of the second, Auburn’s offense got off to a promising start in the bottom half as right fielder Amber Harrison laced the first offering she received from Ivy Renfroe through the left side of the infield.  With a 2-0 count on first baseman Caitlin Jordan, Harrison swiped second to reach scoring position and was soon joined by Jordan via a hit by pitch.  Following a perfect sac bunt that advanced both runners, left fielder Baylee Stephens grounded a ball to Gibson at second.  The Pasadena, Md., native fired a strike to the plate as Andrews applied the tag for a big out.  With a pair retired in the frame, center fielder Branndi Melero was struck by a pitch, setting the stage for a RBI single through the right side by Guzman as Auburn cut its deficit to 2-1.  Eisterhold then followed by ripping a full count pitch to center, plating two more Tigers as AU nabbed its first lead of the series at 3-2.

    The Lady Vols threatened again in the top of the third as Chavanne got things started with an infield single, successfully reaching base for the 19th consecutive contest.  After an Andrews fielder’s choice cut down the lead runner, Gibson drew her team-leading 32nd walk of the season, placing a pair on the bags with Shipman stepping to the plate. The 6-1 shortstop went after the initial offering from Lauren Schmalz, lining a shot that was caught by Caitlin Jordan.  The AU first baseman turned and dove to tag the base as Gibson was retired via an inning-ending double play.

    Things took an ugly turn in the bottom of the third with one retired and Tiger runners stationed at the corners.  What appeared to be a missed squeeze bunt resulted in a massive collision at the plate as Lathan collided with Andrews.  The play resulted in an Auburn ejection and an extended delay as UT’s catcher was taken off the field for precautionary examination.  With two down and attempting to re-focus, Ivy Renfroe hit Schultze with a pitch but finally ended the lengthy frame with a strikeout of Stephens as AU left two base runners stranded.

    A big throwing error by Tiger starter Schmalz on a bunt back to the circle off the bat of sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis got Tennessee in business in the top of the fifth.  On the bad toss to first, the Chattanooga, Tenn., native quickly raced all the way around to third with no one retired in the frame.  Chavanne walked and substitute freshman catcher Hannah Akamine was struck by a pitch from new AU hurler Angel Bunner, loading the bases full of Lady Vols.  With one down Shipman came through once again, lacing a RBI groundout as Lewis trotted home to dead-lock the contest at 3-3.

    A two-out single from Gibson and a stolen base in the top of the seventh granted the Big Orange a runner in scoring position with the score still tied.  Shipman stepped to the plate and hit a ball right on the nose, but her liner traveled right into the glove of Bunner in the circle to leave the occupant at second.

    With one last chance in regulation, reliever Ellen Renfroe induced a popped-up bunt from Melero and a grounder to third by Guzman for two quick outs.  The 6-0 right hander battled out of a 3-0 hole to a full count against Eisterhold before the AU catcher blasted a shot to deep right.  Dotson retreated all the way back to the fence, making the catch while falling backwards into the padding to send the teams on to extra frames.

    Each team’s offense managed to get a runner into scoring position in the eighth inning, but no farther as both Tennessee’s Ellen Renfroe and Auburn’s Bunner buckled down to leave the occupants stranded.

    The Big Orange finally moved back in front in the top of the 10th with the help of the middle of the Lady Vol line-up.  Gibson was struck by a pitch for the third time in a five-game stretch opening the inning.  Shipman delivered in the clutch once again, blasting a triple off the wall to score Gibson all the way from first to make it 4-3.  An illegal pitch by Bunner then brought home Shipman from third as Tennessee’s advantage expanded to a pair of runs.

    With a two-tally lead in the bottom of the 10th, Ellen Renfroe didn’t allow the Tigers any life.  The Jackson, Tenn., native struck out Eisterhold, got Mavromat to pop-up to third and struck out Liana Wuchte swinging to end the marathon.

    The #9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad and Auburn will wrap-up their series at Jane B. Moore Field on Sun., April 8, at 1 p.m. CT.