No. 3/4 Florida Softball Tops Auburn, 3-2, in Series-Opening Battle
|Florida 3, Auburn 2
|Tennessee 2, LSU 0
|Alabama 9, South Carolina 1
|Kentucky 4, Georgia 1
|Mississippi State 5, Ole Miss 3
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The No. 3/4 Gator softball team came out on the winning end of a back-and-forth battle with the Auburn Tigers Friday at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, taking a 3-2 decision in the series opener between the two squads. Junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out RBI single to plate the game-winning run as the Gators improved to 36-5 on the year, 16-2 in Southeastern Conference play.
After senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.) put up the first run of the game with a solo shot – her ninth of the year – in the bottom of the third, Auburn countered with two fourth-inning scores to take a 2-1 lead. Florida knotted the contest in the bottom of the fourth stanza for a 2-2 tie heading to the fifth, enabling Horton to send her fifth game-winning RBI of the season across home.
Florida ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) jumped out of the gates hot, with two strikeouts each in the first and second innings, then settled in to finish the evening with six Ks. Rogers (21-3) worked her 18th complete game of the season, allowing just five hits and two runs to pick up her 21st victory.
It was starter Lauren Schmalz who shouldered the loss for the Tigers after giving up six of UF’s eight hits, while all three Florida runs belonged to the AU starter. Schmalz moved to 7-7 on the year and the Tigers went to 26-16 overall and 5-12 in league action this season. Angel Bunner came on for 2.0 innings of relief and gave up two Gator hits, while retiring two by strikeout and walking one to finish out the series opener for Auburn.
On the offensive side, the Gators backed up Rogers by connecting for eight hits, led by freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) and junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), who tallied two each.
Florida loaded the bags in the bottom of the first after S. Fagan dropped a one-out base hit in shallow left center, while sophomore Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) drew a two-out free pass. Next up, Horton was hit by a Schmalz pitch to load ‘em up. Schmalz tallied her lone strikeout of the contest to keep the Orange and Blue off the board in the initial stanza, stranding three Gators on base.
After a fly out to left field in her first at-bat, Moultrie put a little more power into it the second time around, blasting one over the left-center fence to put the Gators on the board first in the bottom of the third inning with her ninth round-tripper of the year. The Tigers were quick to counter, though, as Caitlin Jordan smashed a bomb of her own over the scoreboard to knot the game at on apiece in the top of the fourth stanza.
Auburn tacked on another run in the fourth with bases loaded on a fielder’s choice when S. Fagan was called for interference, allowing Auburn’s Branndi Melero to cross home for a 2-1 Tiger lead following what would have been the final out of the inning when Coyle tagged third on the play. The Gators rallied though, as Rogers forced Lauren Guzman to fly out to right to retire the side.
A Gammel RBI single to right field knotted the game at 2-all in the bottom of the fourth after freshman Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) worked for a ground-rule double after Melero prevented a homer in center field with a leaping defensive move that swatted the ball back into play. Freshman Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.), running for Castro, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on Gammel’s hit, resulting in a 2-2 game.
Rogers issued a two-out walk, one of just three on the night, in the top of the fifth, but fanned Melero to keep the Tigers from adding runs and giving the Gators, and Horton, their opportunity to win it in the fifth.
After S. Fagan led off with a base hit, Auburn opted to exchange Schmalz for Bunner in the circle, which was effective initially as Bunner retired Coyle by strikeout before allowing S. Fagan to take second on a wild pitch. Next up, freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) drew a walk before Horton dropped her RBI single in shallow left center to plate Sami for the 3-2 lead. A pop up and line out ended the inning, but the third run was all UF would need to top the Tigers in Friday’s opener.
Both UF and AU had one more hit each in the game, notably a Jordan two-out triple that put her in scoring position in the bottom of the seventh to threaten, but Medina snagged a ball at second and tossed to Haeger at first for the final out of the game.
The Gators and Tigers will do it again Saturday in the second game of the series, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Florida and Auburn fans can watch live streaming from GatorVision through GatorVision.tv (pay-per-view), tune in live locally and online to WYGC-104.9 FM, 105 The Game, with Adam Schick and Megan Bush or follow live stats online through Gametracker, with all links accessible on GatorZone.com/softball.
Shipman Homers Again as No. 10 Tennesseee Takes Opener from No. 21 LSU, 2-0
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Friday night in front of 1,514 fans at the Lee Softball Stadium, sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman homered for the fourth straight league contest and for the fifth time over her last five games overall to back another stellar effort from the circle by sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe as the #10 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (33-9, 14-6 Southeastern Conference) won its sixth-consecutive game by topping #21 LSU (29-11. 11-4 SEC) in the two teams’ series opener, 2-0.
Shipman was 1-for-3 at the plate with her career-best ninth HR, while junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was at her chaos-producing best by going 3-for-4 with a run scored and her team-leading 21st stolen base from the lead-off spot in the line-up. Junior right fielder Kat Dotson (1-for-3) and junior first baseman Melissa Brown (1-for-2) each posted one of Tennessee’s six total hits in the match-up, while senior left fielder Shelby Burchell walked three times, including once in the fifth with the bases loaded for a valuable insurance RBI.
Renfroe allowed just three hits in tossing her NCAA Division I-leading 14th solo shutout and her 19th complete game of 2012. The Jackson, Tenn., native walked two and struck out five in improving to 22-3 overall and 10-3 in SEC action.
Each team managed a two-out walk in the first inning for the initial base runner for both squads, but that was all Renfroe and LSU’s Rachele Fico would allow.
The contest wouldn’t remain scoreless for long, however, as Shipman blasted the very first pitch of the bottom of the second just over the Lee Softball Stadium wall for a 1-0 lead. For the Valencia, Calif., the HR marked her fifth over Tennessee’s last five contests and the fourth consecutive conference match-up in which Shipman registered a big fly. A one-out walk to Burchell and a single by Brown put two more Lady Vols on the base paths. Unfortunately, back-to-back strikeouts left the duo stranded, but not before UT had nabbed a one-run lead.
LSU catcher Morgan Russell tried to get the Tiger offense started in the top of the third with a blooper to shallow left center. Lady Vol junior Tory Lewis raced in from her defensive position in center and nearly made a terrific diving catch, but the ball just eluded her for a lead-off single. LSU first baseman Ashleigh Kuhn was asked to drop the sacrifice bunt but popped it up to first instead for the initial out. The wheels came completely off the threat just seconds later as the combo of UT senior catcher Ashley Andrews and junior second baseman Lauren Gibson caught pinch runner Alex Boulet attempting to steal second. Tiger center fielder A.J. Andrews then lifted a “can of corn” to Burchell in left to conclude the frame with no scoreboard damage done.
The Tennessee speed game got the Big Orange rolling in the bottom of the fifth as Chavanne and Dotson registered back-to-back bunt singles to christen the frame. After a fly out by Gibson advanced both runners up 60 feet, Shipman never saw a pitch close to the plate in drawing a walk, packing the bags full of Big Orange. With two retired in the inning, Burchell battled Fico to draw a clutch, bases-loaded free pass as Chavanne trotted home from third to make it 2-0.
A textbook slap single by LSU’s Andrews and a stolen base went for naught in the top of the sixth with the help of strong Lady Vol pitching and defense. Renfroe struck out both right fielder Jacee Blades and Langoni looking before getting an incredible play from a teammate. Shortstop Juliana Santos hit a shot that threatened to escape through the middle for a single and likely would have plated a run. Shipman ranged to her left and made a diving stop of the potential hit. The Valencia, Calif., native rolled over, and from her knees, fired a strike to Brown at first for an incredible “web gem” play to end a big LSU threat.
That proved the last gasp for the Tiger offense in the opener as Renfroe retired second baseman Allison Falcon on a foul out outside of third, induced a fly ball to left from designated player Ashley Applegate and had third baseman Tammy Wray cut down by her counterpart Chavanne at third on a bouncer to seal the series-opening triumph.
No. 2 Alabama Races Past South Carolina, 9-1
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The second ranked Alabama softball team bounced back from a first inning deficit to score nine unanswered runs to knock off South Carolina, 9-1, in five innings in front of 3,265 fans at Rhoads Stadium Friday night. With the win, Alabama improves to 38-2 overall and 15-2 in Southeastern Conference play. South Carolina drops to 23-21 overall and 3-14 in SEC action.
After giving up a leadoff home run to open the game, Jackie Traina shut down South Carolina the rest of the way, giving up just three hits and striking out seven batters to win her 26th straight decision dating back to last season, and improved to 24-0 on the year.
After falling behind 1-0, the Crimson Tide answered back quickly in the bottom half of the first inning. Senior Jennifer Fenton laid down a perfect bunt and advanced to second on an error. Fellow senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia then doubled to left-center to score Fenton and even the score. Boccia later scored after two errors to give the Tide a 2-1 lead.
Fenton, who had three hits on the night, led the charge in the second inning as Alabama increased its lead. After Courtney Conley singled, Fenton doubled down the right field line to knock her in. Jazlyn Lunceford was able to increase the lead to 4-1 when she singled to knock in Fenton two batters later.
Conley came up again in the third inning with two runners on and crushed a ball to left center to increase Alabama’s lead to 7-1. The home run was her fifth on the season as the junior finished 2-for-2 with two runs and three RBI.
The Tide scored twice more in the fifth inning to end the game. Traina was hit by a pitch and moved to second after a Danae Hays walk. Conley was able to reach on an error, and Traina made it 8-1 when Keima Davis hit a sacrifice fly. The next batter, Fenton, ended the game when she doubled to right-center to score Hays and end the game.
Alabama will face South Carolina tomorrow at Rhoads Stadium, with first pitch coming at 4:30 p.m.
Bell Leads Kentucky's Charge in Upset of No. 10/11 Georgia
WATCH GAME HIGHLIGHTS HERE
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Behind 12 strikeouts from senior Chanda Bell the Kentucky softball team earned a key Southeastern Conference win over No. 10/11 Georgia, 4-1, at the UK Softball Complex in front of 1,033 fans in a game that was nationally televised on ESPNU.
With the key SEC win, Kentucky improves to 20-22 overall and a 7-8 SEC mark. The Bulldogs suffered just their ninth loss of the season, falling to 33-9 on the year including an 11-6 record in the SEC.
Bell picked up her 11th win of the season to improve to 11-6, while Georgia starter Erin Arevalo falls to 17-4.
Bell limited a highly-powerful Georgia offense to just one hit, a season low for UGA. The Bulldogs had just two runners advance past second base in the game. The 12 strikeouts for Bell was an SEC-high, as she fell just one short of her season-high strikeout total which was 13 vs. UKMC on March 17.
“Chanda was awesome tonight,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “I am so happy for her. She has had a great career, but this was a special moment for her tonight. Georgia is a great hitting team, and for her to do what she did is incredible.”
Kentucky struck for three of its four runs in the bottom of the second, putting up a three spot in the frame using smart base running and fundamentals.
The inning began with hot-hitting sophomore Lauren Cumbess doubling to deep left and then pinch runner Macy Allen advancing to third on a wild pitch. After a Ginny Carroll walk, Kentucky’s Emily Jolly executed a sacrifice bunt right in front of the circle to score Allen.
Georgia shortstop Paige Wilson elected to throw home and could not get Allen, thus advancing Carroll to first on the fielder’s choice. Sophomore Ellen Weaver followed with a walk to load the bases with one out, when senior Brittany Cervantes reached on a fielder’s choice to score Carroll to increase the lead to 2-0. The Wildcats stretched the lead to 3-0 when Jolly scored on a wild pitch.
Bell did not allow a hit until the top of the fifth frame when Georgia’s Anna Swafford doubled to left-center field to score Brittney Hubbard who walked to lead off the inning. Hubbard would come home on the play for the Bulldogs’ lone tally of the game. Bell then locked in and picked up back-to-back strikeouts against the top of the order and then induced a flyout to get out of the inning without allowing any further damage.
In the home half of the sixth, Jolly drilled a homer to left center on the first pitch of the inning to add insurance to the Wildcats’ lead. The long ball was the fourth on the season from the Owensboro, Ky., native who now has a season-long hitting streak of six games. Kentucky led 4-1 heading into the seventh inning, where the Bulldogs went quietly in the top of the frame to preserve the upset.
“We have played a lot better over the last couple of weeks, so hopefully we can take this momentum as we head down the stretch,” Lawson said. “It was great to have ESPN here because they are a major player in sports today. Five years ago, someone would have never seen them here for a softball game, so for them to be here on campus is a big deal.”
The Wildcats and Bulldogs will resume the series with the second game of the series slated for a 1 p.m. ET start. The series will completed with a Sunday 1 p.m. ET tilt.
Seventh-Inning Dramatics Gives Mississippi State 5-3 Win At Rival Ole Miss
Oxford, Miss. - Mississippi State (23-19, 6-14 SEC) pitcher Kylie Vry retired 10-straight batters in relief before teammate Heidi Shape recorded a game-winning, bases-clearing double for a 5-3 rivalry win against Ole Miss (16-22, 3-12 SEC) Friday night at the Ole Miss Softball Complex. With the triumph, the Bulldogs improved to 32-20 all-time against the Rebels, including a 13-10 mark in Oxford.
"I am really excited for all the Bulldog fans in the state tonight, especially the ones that came out here and supported us in person," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We had half the stadium wrapped in maroon and white. To be baptized into this rivalry in this intense of an environment was awesome and is something I will always remember."
Shape drove in a career-high tying four runs, finishing 2-for-4 with the game-winning hit being her fifth double of the season. Senior catcher Ka'ili Smith also went 2-for-4, with her team-leading eighth double and a run scored. Junior left fielder Jessica Cooley helped out the State bats as well, tallying a single, RBI, run and a walk. All five MSU runs were of the two-out variety.
Vry replaced starting pitcher Stephanie Becker in the top of the third and stifled the Rebel offense, picking up the win after giving up two hits and a run over five strong innings. The junior lefty struck out five batters and has won her past two starts in conference play.
For the first time in 13 games, the Bulldogs jumped on the scoreboard before their opponent with a run in the opening stanza. Sophomore center fielder Jessica Offutt reached on a one-out groundball to second base, which was mishandled by the Rebels' Corrine Doornberg. Following a groundball by Smith that pushed Offutt to the second bag, sophomore third baseman Sam Lenahan was hit on the hip with a full count to put two Bulldogs on base. That brought up Cooley, who ripped an 0-2 offering past the shortstop for an RBI single into left, scoring Offutt and giving the Maroon and White a 1-0 advantage.
The home team responded by loading the bases in the bottom of the first. With the bases juiced, shortstop Allison Brown sliced a Texas Leaguer into right. Senior right fielder Brittany Gates dove for it on the line, but the ball dribbled off her glove into foul territory, allowing Ole Miss to tie the game. With the squares still full, designated player Erinn Jayjohn gave the Rebels a 2-1 lead with a bloop single to shallow left.
Ole Miss' lead did not last long, however, as, Smith led off the third with a standup double to the 220-feet sign in straightaway center field. Following two putouts by the Ole Miss pitcher, Shape roped a chopper up the middle over the head of the Rebel righty. Brown ran over from short, fielded it and hurled it to first, but it was not in time as Shape was credited with an infield base hit. In the midst of the play, Smith sprinted to third, rounded the hot corner and tapped the far side of the dish with a head-first slide for the game-tying run.
Vry entered the contest in the middle of the third and kept her team in the game by retiring 10-straight batters from the last out of the third until the end of the sixth.
It was in the top of the seventh after Vry did her job that the Bulldog offense got going. With State down to its possible final out of the game, Smith deposited a 3-2 pitch up the middle for a single. After a 3-1 base on balls by Lenahan, freshman Ashley Phillips pinch ran for Smith on second. Phillips and Lenahan advanced a base to load the bags with another 3-1 walk, this time to Cooley. The bases were loaded for Shape, who rifled a 0-1 donation to the wall in right-center field for a bases-clearing double. The two-bagger gave the visitors the three runs it would need for the final 5-3 triumph. Ole Miss's third run came with one out in the final frame.
Starkville's Team returns to the diamond Saturday for a 2 p.m. rematch against Ole Miss and conclude the rivalry series with a televised 1 p.m. contest on Sunday.