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    SEC Softball Today: April 10

    softBALL RESULTS
    Mississippi State 12, Jackson State 3
    Georgia 7, South Carolina-Upstate 3
    Tennessee 8, Radford 2

    Cooley And Smith Dominate Jackson State in Run-Rule Victory

    Starkville, Miss – Junior left fielder Jessica Cooley and senior catcher Ka’ili Smith combined to go a perfect 6-for-6 with eight RBIs Tuesday in five innings as the Mississippi State softball team (22-19) defeated in-state foe Jackson State (24-19), 12-3, at the MSU Softball Stadium. The ninth-straight win over a non-conference squad marks the longest such streak since 2008 (12), while the seventh run-rule victory of 2012 is MSU’s most since the 2008 squad registered 13 game-shortened triumphs.

    Cooley became the first player in school history to go yard twice in back-to-back games, finishing 3-for-3 with two home runs, four RBIs, two runs and her second double in as many games. With 13 round-trippers this season, the Birmingham, Ala., native ranks second in the SEC in long shots and is tied with former All-American Kellie Wilkerson for fourth-most home runs in a single season by a Bulldog. All three former MSU players above her on that list went on to earn All-America honors.

    Smith also dominated at the dish, matching Cooley with an identical 3-for-3 performance with four RBIs and two runs. The catcher also cranked out a double, as well as her first three-bagger since March 29, 2011 vs. Alcorn State.

    In the circle, junior left-hander Kylie Vry got back on the winning track, throwing her seventh complete game of 2012 to improve to 7-6 on the season. The southpaw gave up three runs (one earned) in the first inning, but went on to hurl four scoreless stanzas to finish the game, striking out six while allowing four hits and three walks.

    The visiting Lady Tigers broke the ice with three runs in the top half of the first, but the home team responded with its third eight-run inning of the year. The bottom of the first started when redshirt senior designated player Brittany Bell hit a worm burner down the left-field line for a single. Sophomore center fielder Jessica Offutt moved Bell to second on a sacrifice bunt, as Bell scored in the next at-bat when Smith roped a single to center field. The Flyin’ Hawaiian advanced to third on the single when JSU’s center fielder could not keep the ball in front of her. State’s catcher stayed there when sophomore third baseman Sam Lenahan reached first on a walk. Smith scored and Lenahan trotted to second on a passed ball, with Lenahan eventually coming full circle after Cooley unleashed her first homer of the evening.

    With the bases cleared and one down, sophomore second baseman Heidi Shape took second after JSU’s shortstop dropped a routine flyball in shallow left field. Following the second out of the frame, redshirt sophomore shortstop Erin Nesbit rifled a single through the left side of the infield, but sprinted to second on the throw home to keep Shape at the hot corner. Senior right fielder Brittany Gates had two in scoring position when she knocked in Shape on an infield single using her speed. Gates then stole her eighth base of the year to put two back in scoring position, before the bases became loaded when Bell was hit with her school-record 44th-career pitch. Junior Chrissie Rovtar pinch-hit for Offutt in the two spot and knocked in another run on a 3-1 walk.

    The bases stayed juiced for Smith’s second at-bat of the inning, as the senior slugger poked a single into right that scored both Bell and Gates. Smith’s second and third runs driven in gave MSU an early yet commanding 8-3 lead after one.

    After a scoreless second for both teams, the Bulldogs put the game out of reach for good in the third with a four-run inning. Gates began the inning by delivering a single up the middle on a 1-2 offering. The lightning-quick outfielder then stole second again, before advancing to third on a passed ball one pitch later. The Lady Tigers’ catcher tried to throw Gates out at third, but sailed the throw, allowing Gates to score the ninth run of the game for the Maroon and White. Offutt came up with one out and copied Gates, connecting on a single to right-center and a steal of second on her own. Smith then stepped into the box and stroked a hard-hit triple to the wall in left, allowing Offutt to wheel her way around the bases and tap the dish. That gave Cooley another chance at a no-doubter, as the left fielder dented a car behind the left-field wall with her second dinger of the day, giving the game its final score of 12-3.

    Starkville's team takes to the road again for the second-consecutive weekend as Stuedeman's squad faces SEC West rival Ole Miss at the Ole Miss Softball Complex. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday, with Sunday's series finale at 1 p.m. being broadcast live on FOX Sports South.



    Hitfest Ends in 7-3 Win for No. 11 Georgia


    ATHENS, Ga. - The bats were rocking at Jack Turner Stadium on Tuesday night, as the No. 11 University of Georgia softball team and USC Upstate combined for 19 hits, but it was the long ball that gave Georgia the edge toward the Bulldogs winning 7-3.

    With the win, Georgia improved to 31-8 on the season while USC Upstate moved to 31-7.

    Senior Erin Arevalo (16-3) became the pitcher of record after giving up one run on seven hits while striking out seven in five innings of work. Sophomore Morgan Montemayor finished the game, as she gave up two runs, one earned, on three hits while sitting down three. The Spartans’ Hannah Alexander (20-3) took the loss after giving up the seven runs on eight hits and striking out six in 4.1 innings in the circle.

    With two outs in the first, senior Kristyn Sandberg put a two-run home run over the left center field wall to pull Georgia ahead 2-0. Sandberg brought in fellow senior Ashley Razey from first after she extended her reach base streak to 10 games with a walk.

    The Spartans made it a 2-1 game in the second after a sacrifice fly to center scored  Hayley Reinfeld who reached on a double and advanced to third on a Lindsay Kelly single. Georgia responded in the home half of the inning, as freshman Gracie Goulder opened the frame with a single. Goulder then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior Brittney Hubbard before scoring on freshman Anna Swafford’s single up the middle.

    The bats came alive in the fifth inning for Georgia, as freshman Paige Wilson got things started with a single to center. After advancing to second on a passed ball, Wilson put the score at 4-1 with senior Ashley Pauly’s double to left field. Razey and Sandberg then powered back-to-back home runs to set the Bulldog’s lead to 7-1.

    USC Upstate would add a run in the sixth and seventh inning, but the early deficit proved too tough to overcome with Georgia taking the win 7-3.

    Georgia makes a quick turnaround, as the Bulldogs host South Carolina in a doubleheader on Wednesday, April 11 starting at 5 p.m.



    Eight-Run Fifth Inning Boosts No. 10 Tennessee Past Radford, 8-2

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Tuesday afternoon in front of 802 fans at Lee Softball Stadium, an eight-run fifth inning that saw 13 Lady Vol hitters step to the plate helped power the #10 Tennessee softball team (32-9) from an early two-run deficit to a comeback, 8-2 victory over Radford (21-11).

    Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson registered her team-leading 12th HR of the campaign, via a three-run inside-the-park homer, while going 1-for-3 effort with three RBIs.  Freshman designated player Cheyanne Tarango blasted a three-run shot, the second HR of her collegiate career, while going 1-for-3 at the dish.  Junior center fielder Tory Lewis ignited the eight-run outburst in the fifth frame with a lead-off single, one of the Chattanooga, Tenn., native’s two hits in that same inning.  Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-3 with a walk, a tally and two stolen bases, giving her a squad-high 20 thefts for the season.

    Big Orange junior hurler Ivy Renfroe improved to 11-6 overall, allowing just one hit with seven strikeouts over 4.1 shutout innings of relief work.  Sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe allowed two tallies on five hits with four K’s in 2.2 frames of effort as the starter.

    “Really slow start today,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Karen Weekly said.  “I didn’t think we played with very much passion in the first four innings, but we finally found a way to kick it into gear.  Tory Lewis ignited us in that fifth inning, and everyone else got after it and did their job.  The speed game is a big part of our offense.  When we get our speed players on base back-to-back-to-back, it really energizes our team.  It also makes our middle of the order hitters feel an obligation to come through when those guys have given us run-scoring opportunities.”

    Radford wasted no time jumping in front on the scoreboard in the top of the first, nabbing a quick 1-0 lead.  With one retired in the frame, designated player Micalah Sacre drove a double into the right center field gap.  Third baseman Vicki Madden worked the count to 3-2 before chopping a base knock back through the middle as Sacre rolled around third to make it 1-0.  Ellen Renfroe rebounded to register consecutive strikeouts of left fielder Ryndee Ruch and second baseman Jackie Warr to conclude the frame.

    A two-out walk in the bottom of the first by Gibson and her 10th stolen base granted the Lady Vol offense a runner in scoring position.  Unfortunately, a strikeout swinging left the runner stranded at second as the Highlanders maintained their one-run advantage.

    The Radford advantage grew in the top of the third as a lead-off single by shortstop Nichole Beall, a stolen base and a two-out base knock to right center by Ruch pushed RU in front 2-0.  That ended Ellen Renfroe’s time in the circle as sister Ivy entered the contest in relief, inducing a routine ground ball to third by Warr to end the threat.

    A walk by Chavanne and her 19th stolen base gave the Lady Vols another two-out base runner in the bottom of the third.  Once again, Tennessee couldn’t get the hit needed to get on the scoreboard as senior catcher Ashley Andrews slapped a routine fly ball to left.

    In the bottom of the fourth, the Lady Vols again threatened as junior right fielder Kat Dotson managed a walk and her seventh steal of the campaign.  Senior left fielder Shelby Burchell followed with a free pass, ending the start for Radford’s Sacre as Jackie Jenkins came in for a relief appearance.  The new pitcher immediately walked junior first baseman Melissa Brown on four pitches, packing the bags full of Orange & White.  Unfortunately, a slow roller was corralled by Madden, and she turned and stepped on third to leave the UT trio on the base paths.

    With Ivy Renfroe in firm control in the circle, the Tennessee offense finally came alive against Jenkins in the bottom of the fifth, posting a season-best eight runs in the frame on eight hits with the benefit of a pair of Highlander miscues.

    Lewis began the frame with a base knock, marking UT’s initial hit of the contest. Looking to advance Lewis to second, Chavanne dropped down a bunt to Jenkins, but the pitcher’s throw to first was wide and rolled into right field.  That miscue allowed Lewis to score the first UT tally of the game and advanced Chavanne into scoring position. Cat Hosfield entered the game to pinch hit for Andrews and reached via an error by Jackie Warr at second.  That set the stage for Gibson as the Pasadena, Md., native hit the second pitch of her at-bat just under the glove of diving outfielder Morgan Eye. With the ball rolling to the fence, Gibson hustled all the way around the bases to register an inside-the-park HR as the Big Orange’s advantage expanded to 4-2.

    Tennessee quickly loaded the bases after sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman blasted a single that bounced off the wall, Dotson reached on a bunt single and pinch hitter Burchell walked. Brown hit a hard grounder that was simply tossed to first for a fielder’s choice, registering the initial out of the inning, as Shipman touched home plate to extend the lead to 5-2. With a pair of Lady Vols in scoring position, Tarango effectively golfed the first pitch she saw from her shoe tops off of the scoreboard to make it 8-2.

    Suddenly blessed with a big lead, Ivy Renfroe rolled through the sixth inning in order with two strikeouts before allowing a lead-off single to pinch hitter Meredith Moore to christen the seventh.  That was all Radford could manage against the 6-0 right-hander, however, as catcher Julie Harriss struck out looking, right fielder Morgan Eye reached on a fielder’s choice and Hannah Ojeda flew out to center to end the UT triumph.