SEC Softball Today: April 20 > SEC > NEWS
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    SEC Softball Today: April 20

    softBALL RESULTS
    Florida 7, Florida International 4
    Florida 9, Florida International 0
    Alabama 8, Georgia 3
    Tennessee 8, South Carolina 0
    Mississippi State 4, Kentucky 3
    Auburn 3, Arkansas 2
    LSU 4, Ole Miss 0

    No. 3/4 Florida Softball Sweeps FIU in Doubleheader Friday to Clinch Series


    GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The third-ranked Florida softball squad kicked off its last non-conference series of the 2012 season Friday with a doubleheader sweep over FIU, downing the Panthers 7-4 and 9-0 (5) at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Freshman Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) ripped her first career homer, a three-run blast in game one, to help lead UF's charge offensively, while freshman Sami Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) led the Orange and Blue at the plate Friday with a team-high four hits and four RBI.

    Florida improved its record to 40-5 overall this season, aided by 13 total hits - including three homers and a triple - while FIU moved to 24-22 following Friday's twin bill. The Gators and Panthers will meet for the series finale Saturday, with first pitch slated for 1 p.m. from KSP Stadium.

    Sophomore shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, Calif.) dropped her 10th bomb of the season over the right-center fence in the nightcap, accounting for UF's second-round tripper off the day, while freshman Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.), who also tossed game two for the Orange and Blue, added the Gators' third bomb of the doubleheader with a two-run success to enforce the eight-run rule in the bottom of the fifth for UF's 16th run-rule win and 19th shutout of the season. Coyle led Florida with a .600 batting clip (3-for-5) through Friday's two games, while S. Fagan wasn't far behind with a .571 average (4-for-7).

    Sophomore ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) tossed the first game of the twin bill, while freshman righty Alyssa Bache (Clearwater, Fla.) came on in the fifth for her second save of the season. Rogers earned the win to improve to 23-3 overall on the season after working the first 4.0, fanning four, walking two and giving up four hits and runs to the Panthers. Bache put in three innings of scoreless relief, succumbing to four FIU hits, while retiring two batters by strikeout.

    Haeger (12-2) earned the start in the nightcap, rallying for a three-hit shutout, her fourth complete-game shutout of the season, to add her 12th victory in the circle in 2012. The righty walked just one and retired four by strikeout

    The Gators fought off a pesky Panther offense that out-hit them 9-7 in the first of Friday's games, but Florida was patient at the plate, collectively drawing eight walks, UF's most since nine March 16 versus South Carolina. Freshman Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) led the charge with three free passes in game one. UF then worked game two starter Mariah Dawson for seven walks, reaching base on balls 15 times in the two-game outing.

    Florida pushed across three runs on two hits in the bottom of the second inning in the first game of the doubleheader to give the Orange and Blue an early 3-0 edge, thanks to a RBI single from senior Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville, Fla.), while S. Fagan followed with a two-RBI triple after two FIU outfielder's battled the sun on a sky high ball to right-center. Little added three to UF's tally in the third, smoking a one-out, three-run missile over the left-field fence for her first career blast donning the Orange and Blue for the 6-0 Florida lead.

    The Panthers made it interesting in the fourth, adding four runs on five hits to the score sheet. Ashley McClain plated FIU's first run in the top of the fourth on a RBI double to left center to narrow the Gators' margin, while teammate Rachel Slowik added one for the Panthers with a RBI single through the right side with runners on second and third for two FIU runs on the board. Kelsey Grabiak struck next for the Panthers to cut the Florida lead in half, sending one up the middle for 6-3 margin. A Florida defensive miscue allowed FIU's fourth and final run cross the dish in the fourth stanza before a fielder's choice and fly out retired the side, with the game at 6-4 heading to the home half of the inning.

    Junior Sam Holle (Tampa, Fla.) dropped a RBI blooper to left to add some insurance in the sixth inning for the 7-4 UF lead, while the Gator defense held steady in the top of the seventh for the victory. Holle was 1-for-1 on the day with a RBI, while S. Fagan and Coyle were both 2-for-4 in game one, Fagan with two RBI and Coyle with one run.

    In the nightcap, Florida scattered at least one run in each of the five innings played, highlighted by a four spot in the fourth and a Haeger two-run homer in the fifth. S. Fagan went 2-for-3 with two runs, two RBI and a walk to complete the day's efforts.

    UF first capitalized on a FIU defensive miscue in the initial stanza after S. Fagan laid down a bunt single that allowed Moultrie, who led off with a walk, to scamper home from first after an errant throw for the early 1-0 Gator lead. S. Fagan struck again in the second with her second hit of the game, a RBI single to center field that plated sister Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, Fla.) for the 2-0 Florida advantage.

    The Orange and Blue steadily increased the lead in game two, adding another run in the third from a Coyle solo shot, lifted to right center for Florida's second homer of the doubleheader.

    With bases loaded in the fourth with no outs, S. Fagan drew a walk for another RBI, giving UF a 4-0 lead, while Coyle followed with a one-out free pass to bring home UF's fifth run of game two. Next up, junior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) sent a two-RBI base hit through the left side for the 7-0 Gator lead before a junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.) walk juiced the bags for Little. A change in the circle for the Panthers from starter Mariah Dawson to Shelby Graves proved to be effective as Graves used a strikeout and fly out to retire the side.

    Florida held FIU scoreless in the top of the fifth and collaborated for a 9-0, five-inning run-rule after Haeger smashed a two-run homer - her 10th of the year and UF's third of the night - over the left-field fence to plate herself and S. Fagan for the final two UF runs of the evening.

    The Gators and Panthers will meet for the final game of the three-game series Saturday, with first pitch set for 1 p.m. from Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.



    No. 2 Alabama Bounces Back with an 8-3 Win

    ATHENS, Ga. – The second ranked Alabama softball team powered its way to a convincing 8-3 win to even the series against No. 13 Georgia, Friday night at Jack Turner Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide improve to 41-4 overall and 18-3 in Southeastern Conference play. Georgia falls to 35-11 on the season and moves to 13-8 in league action.

    After Georgia took a 3-2 lead in the second inning, Alabama scored six unanswered runs on the strength of 12 hits, including three home runs to even the series. Senior Amanda Locke paced the Tide with a perfect 3-for-3 night, needing just a single to bat for the cycle.

    Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina was hit early but shut the door in the later innings as she allowed three runs on five hits while striking out five. The right-hander only allowed one hit after the second inning.

    Alabama opened the game with two, two-out runs in the first inning. Sophomore Kaila Hunt belted a liner off Georgia pitcher Morgan Montemayor to score senior Jennifer Fenton from third. Locke then followed it up with her first career triple, scoring Hunt all the way from first.

    Georgia answered in the bottom half though as the Bulldogs hit two solo home runs. Tess Sito hit a home run over the wall in left-center and then Paige Wilson hit a liner over the wall in right-center to even the score.

    UGA pushed across a single run in the second to take a 3-2 lead. Anna Swofford scored on an Ashley Pauly bloop single to left.

    Alabama retook the lead when it scored two runs in the fourth – a lead it would not relinquish. Junior Courtney Conley provided the big hit with a two-run single through the left side that scored senior Jazlyn Lunceford and freshman Danae Hays.

    Junior Jackey Branham kept the momentum going as she hit a leadoff home run on a 3-2 count to start off the fifth and expand the Tide lead to 5-3.
     
    Lunceford continued the power surge for Alabama as she crushed the first pitch she saw over the wall in left for a two-run home run to plate Locke and move the lead to 7-3.
     
    Locke then drilled the third home run on the night for the Tide as she smacked a 3-2 pitch over the scoreboard in left to give Alabama an 8-3 lead in the sixth.

    Alabama will close out the series against Georgia on Saturday with first pitch scheduled for 1:30 p.m. CT, at Jack Turner Stadium.



    Davin Hits Two Homers as No. 7 Tennessee Blanks South Carolina, 8-0

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – On Friday night during the series opener at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C., sophomore shortstop Melissa Davin blasted a pair of HR’s in a single game for the second time this year to back a three-hit shutout by sophomore pitcher Ellen Renfroe as the #7 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (38-9, 17-6 Southeastern Conference) won its season-best, 11th-straight game in an 8-0 (5 inn.) triumph over South Carolina (23-24, 3-17 SEC).

    Davin led the Big Orange offense by going a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish with a pair of solo HR’s, her fourth and fifth big flies of the year, and four RBIs.  Sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis was 1-for-2 with her third triple of 2012 and a RBI, junior second baseman Lauren Gibson was 1-for-2 with a walk and junior first baseman Melissa Brown was credited with a RBI via a bases-loaded walk.

    In improving to 24-3 on the year and 11-3 in SEC action from the circle, Renfroe allowed three hits, walked two and struck out three over 5.0 frames of work.  For the Jackson, Tenn., native the effort marked her 21st complete game and NCAA Division I-leading 15th solo shutout.

    “We told our kids that our theme today was to play our own best self,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said.  “We needed to play as well as we could, because we know how good South Carolina is.  We don’t pay attention to records.  We know that they are a very good hitting team.  Their hitting stats were third in the league coming into this weekend, and they came out tonight ready to go.  We just wanted our kids to come out and play Tennessee softball.  As for Melissa (Davin), we’ve been watching her every day in practice, and she’s been going along strong.  We recruited her to be a big-time player at Tennessee, and I’m just really happy for Melissa, because she’s been working really hard.”

    The Big Orange wasted no time jumping in front on the scoreboard, plating a tally in the top of the first against South Carolina starter Audrey Broyles.  Junior right fielder Kat Dotson got it started by drawing a one-out walk, advancing into scoring position with two retired in the frame via her eighth stolen base of the season.  With runners stationed at the corners following a Gibson base knock through the infield, the Lady Vols managed a 1-0 lead as Dotson managed a swipe of home. 

    The Gamecocks tried to answer right back in the bottom half of the first as shortstop Samie Garcia got USC off to a solid start with a lead-off single to left.  Following a perfect sacrifice bunt, left fielder Kaitlin Westfall beat out an infield single to deep short, putting runners at first and second with just one down.  Second baseman Dana Hathorn hit a shot to third that was corralled on the bounce by junior third baseman Raven Chavanne.  The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native turned and stepped on third for the force before tossing across to Brown for a 5-3, inning-ending double play.

    Davin utilized the long ball in boosting the Big Orange advantage to a pair of runs during the top of the second.  With one down the Fresno, Calif., product blasted a towering solo HR out of Beckham Field, her fourth big fly of the year, as Tennessee’s lead expanded to 2-0.

    In the circle Renfroe began settling into the contest, retiring six of seven Gamecock hitters she faced over the second and third innings.  The 6-0 right hander even registered consecutive strikeouts of catcher Shelby Gonzales and first baseman Olivia Lawrence spanning the two frames.

    South Carolina got its lead-off hitter on for the second time in the contest, starting the bottom of the fourth, as Westfall ripped a two-bagger into the left center field gap.  Renfroe responded to the hit by catching Hathorn swinging for the UT hurler’s third K of the match-up.  She finished off the USC threat by inducing a chopper to third by right fielder Chelsea Hawkins and by personally handling a bouncer back to the circle from designated player Kaela Jackson as the lead-off double went for naught. 

    For the second time this season, after turning the feat back on Feb. 12 against Western Michigan in Tempe, Ariz., Davin made it two HR’s in a single contest by driving another solo shot out of Beckham Field off Broyles to make it 3-0 in the top of the fifth.  A free pass issued to senior catcher Ashley Andrews and the Tumwater, Wash., product’s sixth steal of the season placed a runner in scoring position.  That set the stage for Lewis’ third triple of the year on a shot to the wall as Andrews scored easily from second, improving the UT advantage to 4-0 with still none out.  After a Chavanne walk, Lewis managed another Lady Vol swipe of home to make it a five-run lead. 

    With one down and the UT speedster at third after a ground ball off the bat of Dotson, the decision was made to intentionally walk both Shipman and Gibson to pack the bases.  Despite getting a K for the second out of the frame, the move soon backfired on USC as Brown managed a free pass to force in a run, and then Davin ripped a two-RBI single through the infield as the advantage expanded to 8-0.  A pop-up to short finally brought an end to the inning but not before Tennessee had totaled six runs while sending 11 batters to the plate.

    Suddenly down to its final chance to avoid the run-rule in the bottom of the fifth, third baseman Evan Childs managed to grant the Gamecocks some brief life with a lead-off walk.  Gonzales hit a shot right to Shipman at short, however, and the 6-1 native of Valencia, Calif., began a 6-4-3 double play for two quick outs.  A liner off the bat of S.C.’s Lawrence finished the contest off as the Big Orange secured an 8-0 (5 inn) victory.



    Nesbit’s Two-Run Double Gives MSU 4-3 Win Against Kentucky


    STARKVILLE, Miss. - Deadlocked in a 2-2 tie with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Mississippi State shortstop Erin Nesbit sailed a two-run double to the wall in left en route to a crucial 4-3 Southeastern Conference victory against Kentucky Friday night at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Bulldogs improved to 26-19 overall and 9-14 inside the SEC, while Kentucky dropped to 23-24 with a 10-10 conference record.

    "Kudos to our players for really putting it out there tonight," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "Coach (Alan) Reach, Coach (Beth) Mullins and Kelsi Dunne all did a phenomenal job this week preparing our hitters. With that said, we must be ready for tomorrow because Kentucky is a great team."

    In addition to Nesbit's game-winning two-bagger, all four runs for the Bulldogs came from the first quartet in the order. Leadoff hitter Brittany Bell went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run, reaching base safely for the 42nd time in 45 games this season. Junior Jessica Cooley scored once on two walks, while reigning SEC Player of the Week Ka'ili Smith went 2-for-2 with a walk and a run. Cleanup hitter Sam Lenahan tied a career high with three base on balls, driving in a run and scoring once. Two of Lenahan's three free passes came on at-bats of nine and 12 pitches.

    Junior left-hander Stephanie Becker picked up her 14th win of the season, doubling her win total from a year ago. The Chicago southpaw struck out nine and walked none in her team-best 11th complete game of the 2012 campaign. Becker's nine strikeouts marked her second-highest output of the year.

    After Kentucky drew first blood in the top of the third with a two-run home run by left fielder Ellen Weaver, the Bulldogs responded with two runs of their own in the third. Bell led off with a standup double down the left-field line. Cooley and Smith walked to load the bases, before Lenahan earned a base on balls to plate Bell. With the bases still juiced, junior Shelby Fisher drove in Cooley on a grounder to the shortstop to tie the game.

    Tied at two, Smith began the bottom of the fifth frame by depositing a full-count pitch for a single to left field. Following another walk by Lenahan, both runners advanced a base on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore second baseman Heidi Shape. Kentucky's second out of the inning brought up Nesbit, who shot a 2-2 pitch over Weaver's head in left for the game-winning, bases-clearing, two-RBI double.

    The Wildcats would score a run in the sixth stanza to cut the deficit to one, but it wasn't enough as Becker held on for the complete-game victory.

    Starkville's Team returns to the Dawg Diamond Saturday for a noon Super Bulldog Weekend showdown with Kentucky. Game two of the series will be broadcast live on ESPNU, with Cara Capuano serving as the play-by-play announcer and National Pro Fastpitch League Commissioner Cheri Kempf handling the color analyst duties.



    Auburn Softball Tops Arkansas 3-2 In Eight Innings

    Auburn, Ala..  – Baylee Stephens delivered a bases-loaded single off the wall in center to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the eighth inning as the Auburn softball team claimed a 3-2 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks Friday night.
                   
    Auburn improved to 27-18 overall and 6-14 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas dropped to 23-20 overall and 4-16 in the SEC. The Tigers and Razorbacks play game two of the series at 1 p.m. CT Saturday.
                   
    “This was a heck of a fight tonight,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “It seemed like both teams were always putting runners on but the other team would find a way to get out of it. It was a great night for Baylee. She came through with a really clutch hit. Angel and Lauren (Schmalz) did a great job pitching for us.”
                   
    Lauren Schmalz earned the win in relief to improve to 8-7. Schmalz threw three and one-third innings, scattering two hits and walking one with three strikeouts. Angel Bunner started and went four and two-thirds innings. Bunner allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts.
                   
    Chelsea Cohen started and went the distance for Arkansas, falling to 12-13. Cohen allowed three runs, all earned, on five hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
                   
    Devon Wallace put the Razorbacks on the board just six pitches into the game with a home run to lead off the game. Wallace fell behind 0-2 in the count before taking three straight balls. On a 3-2 pitch, Wallace uncorked a towering home run to right for a 1-0 Razorbacks’ lead. It was Wallace’s ninth homer of the year.
                   
    Auburn rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Caitlin Schultze doubled to open the inning and was lifted for pinch-runner Maris Medina. After a sac bunt moved Medina to third, the Razorbacks picked up the second out on a ground out back to the pitcher. Baylee Stephens was then hit by a pitch, her 12th of the year, to put runners at third and first. Branndi Melero hit a ground ball to Maddie Reese at second base who flipped to shortstop Calrissa Navarro covering the bag, but the throw was late, allowing all runners to advance and Medina to score to tie the game.
                   
    After Lauren Guzman was hit to load the bases, Amber Harrison laced a hard single off the pitcher to advance the runners, scoring Stephens to give Auburn a 2-1 lead.
                   
    Arkansas took advantage of an Auburn error to tie the game in the top of the fifth. With two outs, Wallace hit a fly ball to left that Stephens missed when attempting to make the catch. The ball hit safely and rolled, allowing Wallace to reach second base. After Ashley Martindale was put in to run for Wallace, Clarissa Navarro laced a single through the left side to drive home the tying run.
                   
    The Razorbacks mounted a scoring threat in the top of the sixth after a pair of errors and an infield single loaded the bases with just one out. Schmalz, however, got a pair of strikeouts to end the inning without a run cross the plate.
                   
    Auburn put two on with one out in the bottom half of the sixth, but Cohen was able to work out of the jam after forcing a pair of infield pop-ups.
                   
    After Schmalz set the Razorbacks down in order in the top of the eighth, the Tigers mounted the game-winning rally. Schultze drew a leadoff walk and took second when Elizabeth Eisterhold’s slow roller to second was booted by Reese. With two on, Hilary Mavromat drew a walk to load the bases. Stephens followed and drilled the first pitch off the wall in center, scoring Schultze for the game-winner.
                   
    For the game, the teams combined to strand 18 runners on base and six errors. The Tigers stranded 11 runners and tied a season-high with four errors, while Arkansas left seven on base and committed two errors.



    Fico’s Three-Hit Gem Fuels No. 23 LSU Past Ole Miss

    BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 23 LSU softball team rode Rachele Fico’s right-arm to a masterful three-hit performance and garnered a 4-0 victory over Ole Miss Friday to open a SEC weekend series at Tiger Park.

    The Tigers (31-14, 12-6 SEC) won their seventh straight contest versus Ole Miss (16-27, 3-17 SEC) and 20 of the 23 match-ups in Baton Rouge. LSU also posted their fourth consecutive shutout against the Rebels, a streak of 30.1 consecutive inning stretching back to the 2010 season.

    Fico was touched up for a trio of singles and moved to 15-6 on the season. The junior right-hander racked up seven strikeouts against two walks as she pulled within 17 Ks of reaching 500 career strikeouts.  

    Ashley Langoni, Morgan Russell, Juliana Santos and Tammy Wray contributed RBIs to spark LSU’s offense. The victory allowed the Tigers to secure a spot in May’s SEC Tournament and move back into sole possession of fourth place in the overall SEC race after Alabama’s 8-3 victory over Georgia.

    “Every SEC win is a big win – I don’t care who you’re playing,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Every time we can go out and find a way to get it done, I think, is important. Rachele had a really great performance for us tonight. I think she knew, for the team, she had to get us back on the positive. I don’t think she did anything out of the ordinary – I think she’s done that for us all year. I thought she threw great and did a very great job.”

    LSU manufactured the game’s first run during the second inning. Santos drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second base on Allison Falcon’s sacrifice hit. An Ashley Applegate ground out enabled Santos to move to third base. On a 2-2 offering, Wray chopped a RBI single through the middle to give the Tigers a 1-0 edge.

    “Obviously, Ashley Langoni and Juliana Santos have been hitting consistent all season long so we have all the faith in the world in them when they step up to the plate,” Wray said. “I feel like the bottom of the lineup has been drastically stepping up. We’ve been working on our confidence and just been going out there with a positive attitude.”

    Langoni and Santos drove home a pair of runs in the fifth inning to extend the LSU advantage to 3-0. Langoni notched her 39th walk of the season to break former All-American Ashlee Ducote’s single-season record set during the 2000 season.

    Fico started the game on-fire and fanned five of the first six batters she retired. She carried a no-hit bid two outs into the fifth inning before Cali Overbeck’s single to right field.

    Ole Miss’ best opportunity to score came in the sixth inning. With runners on first and second base, Fico got out of trouble with a tremendous inning-ending 1-5-3 double play. 

    The Tigers tacked on another run during the home-half of the frame. Applegate collected a leadoff walk, and pinch runner Alex Boulet swiped her seventh stolen base of the season. Two batters later, Russell ripped a RBI single past a drawn-in Ole Miss infield to plate Boulet for the final margin of 4-0.

    “I knew I had to start working harder,” Fico said. “I knew I didn’t have my best outing last weekend at Tennessee, and I knew I just really had to get back to my fundamentals in the bullpen. [I] just needed to bear down, focus on my mechanics and just get better. I have to be better for my team.”

    Ole Miss’ Kendall Bruning was dealt the loss and fell to 12-14 for the season. She was tagged for four runs on five hits and tallied two strikeouts versus three walks.

    Game two of the series is set for Saturday at 6 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 Kent Lowe set to call the action.

    CST will televise the game with Lyn Rollins and Yvette Girouard serving as the broadcast team.

    Fans also can follow every pitch of LSU softball this season via live in-game updates on LSU softball's social media outlets at www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball and @lsu_softball on Twitter.

    Saturday's contest marks the LSU's inaugural "Strikeout Ovarian Cancer" event. The Tigers will wear teal jerseys to celebrate survivors and spread awareness of ovarian cancer. Fans are encouraged to wear teal in support of the cause.

    The first 500 fans will receive a "Strikeout Ovarian Cancer" teal t-shirt, and all fans entering the ball park will be given teal pom poms. Head coach Beth Torina's mother, Betty Dieter who is an ovarian cancer survivor, will throw-out one of the game's ceremonial first pitches.