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    SEC Softball Today: April 17

    softBALL RESULTS
    Arkansas 2, UMKC 0
    Tennessee 5, Memphis 0
    Tennessee 3, Memphis 2
    Georgia State 5, Alabama 1
    LSU 2, McNeese State 1

    Defense carries the Razorbacks

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas softball team defeated UMKC 2-0 in a mid-week single game matchup to improve its overall record to 23-19 on the season. UMKC falls to 18-23.

    “If I could pick two things for my team to be really good at it would be great pitching and solid defense,” said head coach Mike Larabee. “That is what we had tonight and I am very pleased.”

    The Razorbacks started the game with some solid defense from the outfield with each outfielder grabbing an out forcing UMKC to go three up and three down.

    Devon Wallace got the offense going and recorded the first hit of the game when she hit a double to the right-centerfield wall. That hit gives Wallace eight doubles on the season. Jayme Gee continued her consistent hitting from last week, grabbing a single to right field, bringing home Wallace for the 1-0 lead. Gee advanced to second on the throw, but was unable to be brought home before the inning was finished.

    UMKC put its first runner on base after Anna Sokolik recorded a single to left field.

    Freshman Maddie Reese recorded her first career home run as a Razorback in the bottom of the third after she blasted a ball over the left field fence giving the Arkansas the 2-0 lead. Arkansas now has 45 home runs as a team on the 2012 season.

    “Maddie has been working really hard to improve her hitting,” said Larabee.

    The Razorbacks held strong again on defense in the top of the fourth with the help from left fielder Sierra Bronkey who made a tough catch at the wall forcing the Kangaroos to go three up and three down. More rock-solid defense continued in the top of the fifth forcing another quick inning for UMKC. Arkansas caught a runner attempting to steal second with a throw from Gee to Clarisa Navarro.

    Jennifer Rambo hit the second double on the day for the Razorbacks in the bottom of the sixth when she blasted the ball out to the left-center wall. She was not able to be brought home keeping the score 2-0 in favor of the Razorbacks.

    In the circle, freshman Kimmy Beasley threw all seven innings grabbing her ninth victory on the season while striking out six batters and allowing no walks.

    “Kimmy is on a roll right now,” said Larabee. “Kimmy paired up with Jayme Gee behind the plate has been a solid combination.”

    Arkansas’s defense was the story of the night only allowing four hits, not allowing one Kangaroo to get to get past first base. The Razorbacks also recorded 21 putouts with Gee having the most with six.

    Arkansas will be back in action this weekend at Auburn, Ala. Where it will play a three-game series against the Tigers beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday.



    Shipman Knocks in Two as No. 8 Tennessee Takes Opener from Memphis, 5-0

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman knocked in her Southeastern Conference-leading 51st and 52nd RBIs of the season and junior Ivy Renfroe scattered four hits in securing her ninth-consecutive pitching victory as the #8 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (36-9) posted a 5-0 triumph over Memphis in the opener of a Tuesday doubleheader at the Lee Softball Stadium.

    With the win UT also equaled its longest winning streak of the 2012 campaign at nine consecutive wins, tying its best previous skein that stretched from Feb. 24-March 9.

    Shipman led the Big Orange offense by going 2-for-4 with the two RBIs, junior first baseman Melissa Brown was 2-for-3 with a double and a RBI and senior catcher Ashley Andrews was a perfect 2-for-2 with a tally.

    In the circle Renfroe improved to 14-6 overall, allowing just four hits in her seventh solo shutout of the campaign.  The 6-0 right hander out of Jackson, Tenn., walked one and struck out five over 7.0 innings of effort.

    Each team managed a base runner in the opening frame as Memphis third baseman Laura Curtis recorded an infield single with one out in the top half, and junior third baseman Raven Chavanne walked to christen Tennessee’s half of the first.  The UM runner never moved, while the Lady Vol speedster advanced within 60 feet of pay dirt on her team-best 22nd steal of the season and a groundout, but was left stranded via an infield pop-up.

    The Big Orange nabbed a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second with the extra benefit of some Tiger assistance.  Senior left fielder Shelby Burchell was struck by a pitch from Memphis starter Ellen Roberts, quickly advancing into scoring position on a passed ball.  An infield base knock by Brown and a hit by pitch as freshman designated player Hannah Akamine was struck loaded the bags full of Lady Vols with still none out.  Rookie pinch hitter Cheyanne Tarango lifted a fly ball into the outfield that was dropped for an error as Burchell plated an unearned run to make it 1-0.  Unfortunately, that was all Tennessee would get as a fielder’s choice, that retired the lead runner at the dish, a strikeout and a pop-up to third left the bases juiced. 

    Memphis designated player Jami Miller got the Tigers off to a promising start in the top of the third by driving a double into the right center field gap to christen the frame.  A groundout to third that moved the runner and a swinging bunt off the bat of shortstop Morgan Mosby placed occupants at the corners with just one retired.  Third baseman Laura Curtis hit a slow bouncer to second that was bobbled briefly by UT’s Lauren Gibson.  The runner from third hesitated, allowing Gibson the time to recover and fire a strike to the plate as Andrews applied the tag to prevent a Tiger run from scoring.  Despite battling Renfroe over seven pitches, pitcher Ellen Roberts grounded out routinely to second to conclude the threat with no scoreboard damage done.
     
    UT’s Shipman manufactured a run on her own in the bottom of the fifth to give the Lady Vols a 2-0 advantage.  The Valencia, Calif., native ripped a single into the outfield with one down and then began giving the Tigers absolute fits on the base paths.  The 6-1 shortstop took off for second, stealing her 14th base of the season to reach scoring position.  Just seconds later, the UT runner raced for third as Memphis catcher Amber Lindahl’s throw sailed into left field allowing Shipman the chance to stroll home for a two-run lead.  A walk to Burchell was then cashed in via a double off the wall from Brown as Burchell raced all the way around from first base to make it 3-0.

    The Tigers got the leadoff batter on in both the fifth and sixth innings on a bloop single by left fielder Ashleigh King and a walk to Curtis, respectively.  Renfroe wouldn’t allow Memphis’ offense to string anything together, however, as Tennessee maintained its three-run lead.

    A two-bagger off the bat of Andrews got the Lady Vol offense started in the bottom of the sixth.  Chavanne walked and junior right fielder Kat Dotson was struck by a Roberts offering, loading the bases once again for Tennessee.  Shipman delivered in the clutch with a blast off the wall for a very long single as two runs scored, improving the advantage to 5-0.

    A miscue on the Tennessee infield allowed UM lead-off hitter, right fielder Sara Pearson, to reach beginning the Tigers’ last chance in the top of the seventh.  King drove a promising shot to center that was tracked down on the run by sophomore Tory Lewis for the initial out of the frame.  Renfroe finished it off from there, inducing a pop-up to first off the bat of Miller and getting a weak liner to short from second baseman Alyssa Palmieri to complete UT’s ninth-straight victory.



    Brown, Burchell Lead Tennessee to Doubleheader Sweep of Memphis, 3-2

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On the strength of a two-RBI single by junior first baseman Melissa Brown and a clutch, fifth-inning solo HR from senior left fielder Shelby Burchell, the #8 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (37-9) picked up its season-best 10th straight win, finishing off a Tuesday doubleheader sweep over Memphis at the Lee Softball Stadium, 3-2.

    The pair of victories also improved the Big Orange’s winning streak against in-state opposition to a remarkable 74 consecutive wins, dating back to a defeat against Middle Tennessee on March 22, 2000.

    Brown was 2-for-3 at the plate with her eighth double of the season and a pair of RBIs, while junior right fielder Kat Dotson was a perfect 3-for-3 with a run scored.  Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 1-for-3 with a tally, and Burchell was 1-for-2 with her second HR of the campaign.

    Sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe improved to 23-3 overall from the circle, allowing two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and 10 strikeouts in her 20th complete game of 2012.

    “It’s tough to play an in-state, mid-week doubleheader after playing in front of a national television audience with a sold-out stadium against a top-20 team this past weekend,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said.  “It’s one of the challenges of our sport, and we didn’t play the way we were capable of playing tonight.  I’m happy we could get (two wins) done, but all phases of our game were subpar tonight.”

    Memphis got the lead-off on in the top of the first as shortstop Morgan Mosby walked to begin the contest.  A strong throw by UT freshman catcher Hannah Akamine quickly cleared the base paths as Mosby was caught stealing second for the initial out.  Third baseman Laura Curtis struck out swinging and designated player Libby Goranson grounded out to third to conclude the frame.

    A one-out base knock by Dotson got the Lady Vol offense started in the bottom half of the first.  A long foul out down the line by sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman allowed the UT speedster to advance 60 feet into scoring position.  Dotson ended up stationed at third following a two-out wild pitch by UM starter Jordan Richwood, but she would remain right there as a groundout to second left her stranded.

    The Tigers managed to take their first lead of the doubleheader in the top of the third against Renfroe.  The outburst got started on an infield single by right fielder Ijiah Hargrove.  Following a perfect sacrifice bunt and then a weak liner to short by Morgan Mosby, third baseman Laura Curtis ripped a base knock through the left side of the infield, placing UM runners at the corners with two down.  Designated player Libby Goranson fell behind 0-2 before battling back to a full count against UT’s 6-0 right hander.  On the pay-off pitch the Tiger hitter blasted a shot off the left field wall for a two-RBI double as Memphis nabbed a 2-0 advantage.

    Tennessee wasted no time answering back on the scoreboard, putting up a pair of runs of its own in the bottom of the third to dead-lock the contest at 2-2.  Chavanne got things started with an infield single, and Dotson followed with her own bunt single as the “speed game” gave the Big Orange two on with no outs. After a groundout moved the runners up a base and a harmless popup, Richwood pegged Burchell on a 2-1 pitch to load the bases. Brown came through in the clutch, delivering a two-RBI single to knot the game up at two apiece.

    Renfroe struck out the first two batters in the fourth, while Hargrove sent a liner to second that was gloved by Gibson to end the visitor half of the inning. The Orange and White would get a runner to third in the bottom half, but could not grab the lead. A one-out walk to senior Ashley Andrews and a sac bunt from Chavanne advanced Andrews to second. Another single from Dotson placed runners on the corners, but Shipman grounded out to end the inning.

    With one retired in the top of the fifth, Memphis registered back-to-back infield singles, trying to reclaim the lead. Renfroe took care of Goranson via a strikeout in a seven-pitch battle, but a wild offering to first baseman Jessica Phillips allowed the two runners to take second and third. It proved all for naught as Renfroe notched her second strikeout of the inning, ending the Tiger threat.

    One swing was all Tennessee needed to vault the Tigers on the scoreboard. After a pop out by Gibson to begin the bottom of the fifth, Burchell sent a 2-2 offering from Richwood just over the outfield fence for her second HR of the season, granting UT a 3-2 lead.

    From there it was just up to Renfroe to complete the triumph, and the Jackson, Tenn., native did just that.  She struck out three of the final six batters she faced, registering two K’s during the sixth and one in the seventh. Morgan Mosby ended the game by sending a slow grounder to second, where Gibson corralled the ball before tossing it over to Brown to give Tennessee the doubleheader sweep.



    No. 2 Alabama Falls to Georgia State, 5-1

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The second ranked Alabama softball team dropped its first nonconference game of the season as it fell to Georgia State, 5-1, Tuesday night at Rhoads Stadium. After the day the Crimson Tide moves to 40-3 while the Panthers improve to 32-12.

    After taking a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Georgia State answered with five runs, three of which were unearned in the fifth inning to secure a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

    Alabama opened the scoring on an unearned run. Junior Kayla Braud recorded an infield single which enabled Jackey Branham to score on a bobble by the third baseman. Branham started the inning with a walk and after moving over on a sac-bunt by Kendall Dawson, Braud forced the issue with the bunt single.

    But the Panthers would record five runs on three hits and an error in the five-run fifth. Callie Alford had the big hit, a two-run single to right to give GSU the lead for good.

    Georgia State outhit Alabama, 6-4. Senior Jennifer Fenton paced the Tide with a team-high two hits and a walk.

    The nonconference home loss was the first for Alabama since it fell to No. 7 Michigan at the Easton Challenge on March 6, 2010. It was the first nonconference home loss to an unranked opponent since Ohio State downed UA at the Crimson Classic on March 3, 2006.

    Alabama will head to Athens for a crucial three game Southeastern Conference series against Georgia. The first game is scheduled for Thursday, April 19, with first pitch slated for 7 p.m. CT. The game will air on ESPN2 with Beth Mowins, Jessica Mendoza and Michele Smith calling the action.



    No. 23 LSU Ends Skid, Edges McNeese State

    BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 23 LSU softball team put a season’s long four-game losing streak in the rear view mirror and notched a 2-1 victory over McNeese State Tuesday at Tiger Park.

    In the process, the Tigers (30-13) emerged with their 30th victory of the season for the 16th consecutive time since softball was reinstated in 1997. LSU also claimed its sixth straight victory over McNeese State (25-13).

    Offensively, Ashley Langoni turned in a 2-for-3 performance for her team-leading 11th multi-hit effort of the season. Juliana Santos and Cassie Trosclair picked up the RBIs for the Tigers.

    “We are lucky to have those two (Santos and Langoni), and they really showed their senior leadership,” head coach Beth Torina said. “They found a way to get it done for us tonight. I can’t say enough about those two and how important they were tonight. Cassie is a very talented player too. She is one that could make the lineup at any time, but she has battled injuries all year. It is nice to see her get an opportunity and get it done.”

    Meghan Patterson posted her second straight complete game outing and improved to 4-0 on the season. She sprayed one run on seven hits and worked around a career-high six walks versus three strikeouts.

    The Tigers grabbed a 1-0 advantage during the four inning with a two-out rally. Ashley Langoni and Juliana Santos provided consecutive doubles on back-to-back pitches for the game’s first run. Langoni laced her two-bagger into the right centerfield gap, while Santos ripped her double down the left field line.

    LSU tacked on an all-important insurance run in the fifth inning. Tammy Wray crushed a leadoff double off the left field wall, inches away from escaping the park. Pinch runner Tammy Vermeulen scooted over to third base on a wild pitch. Two batters later, Cassie Trosclair deposited a 1-2 offering into centerfield for a RBI single to enable LSU to increase its lead to 2-0.

    “It is all about adjustments,” Trosclair said. “We just had to let the ball get deep. We were only up 1-0 with a runner on third, so I just had to put the ball in play and get the run in.”

    McNeese State drew back to within 2-1 during the seventh inning after pinch hitter Tiffany Denham placed a two-out, RBI single to left centerfield.

    Patterson regrouped and got Dani Price to pop out to Trosclair at second base to secure the 2-1 victory. The sophomore right-hander stranded 12 Cowgirl base runners, seven of them in scoring position.    

    “I think the key to her [Patterson’s] night is that she finished better than she started,” Torina said. “I thought she started really rough but was able to figure some things out. She was able to finish a lot stronger than she started and threw a lot more strikes. It was a lot tougher to hit there at the end. I was happy to see that she continued to improve as the game went on.”

    McNeese State’s Bianca Lilly was dealt the loss and dropped to 1-1 for the season. She retired 11 straight LSU hitters to open the game before Langoni and Santos struck for back-to-back doubles. The freshman southpaw tallied two strikeouts against zero walks.

    LSU continues its five-game week inside the friendly confines of Tiger Park with a Wednesday match-up versus No. 22 Florida State. First pitch is on-tap for 6 p.m. and season tickets holders are asked to bring their original FSU ticket from February’s rain out for admission.

    “They are ranked ahead of us, so taking a game from them will definitely help us not only in the rankings and in RPI, but just in confidence,” Santos said. “We did not play very well last weekend at Tennessee. It’s important to go into tomorrow’s game with a winning mind set. We just need to get the job done by doing all of the little things. That is going to be really important tomorrow.”

    Wednesday’s contest also marks “Student Point Night”, and the first 1,000 fans will receive a LSU softball stein.