Today In SEC Softball: April 22 > SEC > NEWS
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    Today In SEC Softball: April 22

    softBALL RESULTS
    Arkansas 5, Auburn 1
    Ole Miss 1, LSU 0
    Tennessee 6, South Carolina 3
    Mississippi State 3, Kentucky 2

    Arkansas defeats Auburn in series finale

    Auburn, Ala. – The University of Arkansas softball team defeated Auburn in the final game of the series 5-1. The victory over Auburn improves Arkansas record to 24-21 on the season and 5-17 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn falls to 28-19 overall and 7-15 in the SEC.
                   
    “It was a really good team win for us today,” said head coach Mike Larabee. “I am really proud of our players.”
                   
    Clarisa Navarro got the offense going for the Razorbacks in the top of the first recording the first hit of the game out to right-center field for a single. Jennifer Rambo followed with a double out to the center field wall. Navarro attempted to make it home, but was tagged out at the plate. Chloe Oprzedek dropped a ball in the shallow center field allowing for Rambo to come in for the score. She is now tied for the lead with Devon Wallace and Navarro with 24 RBI on the season.
                   
    Auburn placed their first runner on base after a single by Lauren Guzman. Guzman was then caught stealing second with a crisp throw from Jayme Gee to Sierra Bronkey. More stellar defensive work from the second baseman, Bronkey, was involved in every out in the bottom of the first, grabbing the pop up to end the inning.
                   
    Senior Tori Mort started the third inning by collecting first base off a slow rolling hit towards third base. This gives her 21 hits on the season. Mort was advanced to second after Wallace was hit by a pitch granting her first base. Mort was then called out at third after a foot race to the bag when Navarro hit the ball between second and third. Oprzedek recorded her second RBI on the day, bringing in Wallace. Navarro followed Wallace home after an error by the Auburn catcher. Gee followed with a single to bring home Oprzedek and giving the Razorbacks the 4-0 advantage.
                   
    Arkansas defense was consistent through the first three innings retiring seven straight batters and only allowing one hit, which came from the first bat of the game for the Tigers.
                   
    “Our defense was stellar today,” said Larabee. “Megan Pearson and Sierra Bronkey came in and made some plays on defense that we haven’t been making.”
                   
    Andrea Sullivan continued the hitting spree for the Razorbacks in the top of the fourth blasting a solo home run over the left center field wall. That hit gives Sullivan four home runs on the season and Arkansas the 5-0 lead over the Tigers.
                   
    Auburn put its first run on the board in the bottom of the fourth after a batter was walked, followed by a line drive double to the right field wall that allowed the runner on first to come all the way home. Lathan who hit the double advanced to third on the throw, but was tagged out at home with a throw from Oprzedek to Gee.
                   
    Baylee Stephens recorded her first hit of the day for Auburn when she hit a ball to the center field wall collecting a double. The Arkansas defense was strong not allowing Stephens to be brought in for a score keeping the score 5-1 in favor of the Razorbacks.
                   
    Megan Pearson recorded her first hit on the weekend in the top of the sixth when she dropped a ball in right field just outside the infield. Mort collected her second single of the day when she hit a ground ball up the middle advancing Martindale, who was pinch running for Pearson, to second. Both runners were stranded after a pop up ended the sixth inning for Arkansas.
                   
    Navarro collected her second hit on the day in the top of the seventh hitting the ball to the center field wall. Navarro advanced to third after Oprzedek hit a ground ball to the pitcher and was thrown out at first.

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    Broome, Brown, Bruning Help Rebels Down No. 23 Tigers

    BATON ROUGE, La. – Shortstop Allison Brown broke the Ole Miss freshman RBI mark and senior Kendall Bruning tossed a complete-game, two-hit shutout as the Rebels finally won a pitchers’ duel 1-0 over No. 23 LSU Sunday at Tiger Park.

    With the game scoreless heading to the top of the sixth, Rebel left fielder Brittany Broome tripled to right center to start the Ole Miss (17-28, 4-18 SEC) half of the inning. Brown then hit a sharp grounder to second that allowed Broome to score the game’s only run from third. It was Brown’s 32nd RBI of the season, which broke the Ole Miss freshman mark previously held by former All-American Lauren Grill.

    “This was a total team win,” said Ole Miss head coach Windy Thees. “The girls have really been fighting hard all year long and we found a way to pull this one out today. Kendall was outstanding in the circle and really pitched her heart out. Brittany was able to come up with the big extra-base hit and Allison had a good two-strike swing to drive her home.”

    LSU (32-15, 13-7 SEC) attempted a comeback in the bottom of the sixth after pinch hitter Simone Heyward reached on an infield single to start the frame and moved to second on a sac bunt. With one out, pinch hitter Kailey McCasland drew a full-count walk to put runners on first and second, but Bruning got LSU’s third and fourth-hole hitters – Ashley Langoni and Juliana Santos – to fly out and ground out to end the inning.

    Bruning retied 13-of-the-first-15 batters she faced and held LSU hitless for the first 4.1 innings until Tiger third baseman Tammy Wray singled to left center with one out in the fifth. Wray was then pinch ran for by Ashley Boulet, who stole second and moved to third on a ground out. With two down in the fifth, Boulet was tagged out trying to steal home for the final out of the inning.

    Bruning (13-14) got Russell to ground into a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh to close out the win and allowed just two hits in seven innings of work for her fourth shutout of the season. She threw just 103 pitches, 61 for strikes, and struck out three with two walks.

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    #7 TENNESSEE HITS 40 WINS FOR 10TH-STRAIGHT SEASON BY SWEEPING S. CAROLINA, 6-3

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – A career-high four RBIs from senior catcher Ashley Andrews helped the #7 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (40-9, 19-6 Southeastern Conference) win its season-best 13th-straight game, topping South Carolina (23-26, 3-19 SEC) on Sunday afternoon at Beckham Field, 6-3.

    The victory streak is the longest for the Big Orange since winning 13 consecutive contests from April 3-22, 2011, and also marked UT’s 24th-straight triumph over the Gamecocks.  The Lady Vols also reached the 40-win mark for the 10th consecutive season dating back to a 45-25 record in 2003.

    Andrews led Tennessee’s 14-hit offensive assault, posting a career-high-tying three hits in four at-bats with her first HR of 2012 and the career-best four RBIs.  Senior designated player Shelby Burchell was one of five Lady Vols with at least two hits in the match-up, going 2-for-4 with her third HR of the year, two runs scored and a pair of RBIs.  Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-4, junior second baseman Lauren Gibson was 2-for-4 with her sixth double of the season and junior first baseman Melissa Brown was 2-for-3 with her ninth two-bagger of 2012.

    In the circle sophomore Ellen Renfroe improved to 25-3 overall and 12-3 in SEC action, allowing three runs on seven hits with two walks and seven strikeouts over 5.1 innings of work as the starter.  Junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe walked one and K’ed a pair in 1.2 frames of relief, earning her second save of the year and 10th of her career.

    “I’m really proud of our kids for sweeping three-straight SEC series, two of those on the road,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said.  “That’s a great accomplishment in a very tough league.  Karen (Co-Head Coach Weekly) and I are especially proud of Ashley Andrews, who keyed our offense today with a career-high four RBIs.  The SEC is a great league from top-to-bottom, and each week brings a different challenge from a very tough softball team.”  

    After Tennessee left sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman stranded following a two-out walk in the top of the first, Ellen Renfroe wasted no time exerting her influence on the proceedings in the bottom half.  The 6-0 right hander opened the frame with consecutive strikeouts of shortstop Samie Garcia and center fielder Lauren Lackey before inducing a routine grounder to second from left fielder Kaitlin Westfall.

    Burchell got a Big Orange offensive threat started in the top of the second with a lead-off base knock.  Following a perfect sacrifice bunt off the bat of Brown, sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin continued her impressive weekend with an infield single that placed Lady Vol runners at the corners.  With Davin in scoring position following her fourth steal of the year, Andrews delivered a clutch, two-RBI single through the infield to grant Tennessee an early 2-0 advantage.  Chavanne managed a walk with two retired as junior right fielder Kat Dotson stepped into the batter’s box.  The Savannah, Ga., native ripped a promising liner right back to the circle, but on almost a protective stab, S.C. starter Audrey Broyles made the catch to end the frame.

    Just as the teams were preparing to begin the bottom of the second inning, rain began to fall on Beckham Field, necessitating a 46-minute delay that started at 1:34 p.m. ET.

    Once play resumed starting the bottom of the second, right fielder Chelsea Hawkins delivered South Carolina’s first hit of the match-up with a one-out single that dropped into left center.  Third baseman Evan Childs immediately followed with a walk, putting a pair of Gamecock runners aboard with still just one retired.  Ellen Renfroe started to settle back into the circle following the rain delay, getting her third strikeout of the game by catching designated player Kaela Jackson looking at strike three.  On a 3-2 offering catcher Shelby Gonzales bounced a ball to third where Chavanne came up with it before firing across to first as S.C. left the duo stranded.

    A one-out Gibson double off the wall got the Lady Vol offense started again in the top of the third.  Burchell hit a sharp bouncer right back to the circle that was snagged by Broyles.  The hurler turned quickly and managed to track down Gibson between second and third, making the tag personally in what turned out to be a run-saving second out.  That proved the case because Brown followed immediately with her ninth double of the season, advancing Burchell all the way around to third.  The South Carolina coaching staff made the decision to walk the hot-hitting Davin intentionally, and the move paid dividends.  Andrews hit a shot down the left field line that was caught on a diving grab in foul ground by Kaitlin Westfall as the Big Orange left three runners stranded.

    The Gamecocks attempted to make UT pay for the missed opportunity in the bottom of the third as first baseman Olivia Lawrence christened the inning by being hit by a pitch.  With one retired via K, center fielder Lauren Lackey ripped the first pitch she saw into left field, putting a pair of Gamecocks aboard for the middle of the S.C. order.  Ellen Renfroe got a strikeout of Westfall for the second out, but Hathorn laced a shot just inside the third base line and down into the corner for a run-scoring double as South Carolina cut its deficit to 2-1.  Hawkins hit a scary little dribbler towards third that Chavanne was forced to charge quickly.  The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native fired a strike to Brown, retiring the runner at first and preventing the tying run from crossing the dish.

    The fifth inning has proven to be magic all season long for the Big Orange (57 runs in the frame in 2012), and it proved no different on Sunday as UT registered four runs on six total hits while nine Lady Vol hitters stepped to the plate.  The second-straight base knock from Gibson got it all started with one retired, setting the stage for a two-run HR by Burchell to make it 4-1 Tennessee.  The Columbia, Tenn., product’s blast appeared to strike the very top of the wall before bouncing over for her third HR of the campaign.  A base hit from Brown ended Broyles’ stint in the circle as Saturday’s South Carolina starter Katelynn Howser entered the circle in relief.  After a perfect sac bunt by senior Holly Baker, Andrews continued her amazing afternoon at the plate by hammering her first HR of the year, a two-run blast, out of Beckham Field to expand the lead to 6-1.

    With time beginning to run short on chances to climb back into the contest, Hawkins got a sixth-inning Gamecock rally underway by opening the frame with a double into the left center gap.  South Carolina’s leading HR hitter Childs quickly cut the S.C. deficit to just 6-3 with a two-run HR over the fence in deep center.  With one down pinch hitter Kristen Struett ripped a base knock back through the middle, ending Ellen Renfroe’s stint in the circle as sister Ivy came into the contest facing a save situation.  The new hurler settled things down immediately, striking out Lawrence before getting a routine groundball off the bat of Garcia to conclude the inning.

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    Bulldog Softball Clinches SEC Tournament Berth With Second-Straight Walk-Off Win

    STARKVILLE, Miss. – One hundred and eighty feet were erased in mere seconds as Mississippi State’s Jessica Cooley raced around from first on a Ka’ili Smith double Sunday afternoon to give MSU a 3-2 walk-off win against Kentucky. With the series-sweeping triumph at the MSU Softball Stadium, the Bulldogs clinched a berth in the 2012 SEC Tournament from May 10-12 at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

    “I am real proud of our players and our fans.” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “For the third day in a row, they pulled us through. Congratulations to all the Bulldog fans and thank you on behalf of our program.”

    Smith led the Bulldogs to their first sweep of Kentucky since 2008, reaching base all four times via the game-winning double, a hit by pitch and two Wildcat errors. Cooley scored her run in walk-off fashion for the second-straight day, while redshirt senior Brittany Bell crossed the plate once in the leadoff spot. Senior right fielder Brittany Gates had a team-best two hits along with a run scored.

    “The mindset is to bring it every inning,” Smith explained. “We break it down into innings, outs and pitches.”

    Junior left-handed pitcher Stephanie Becker was the victor in the circle, making her the winning pitcher in all three games of the sweep. The Chicago native struck out five Wildcats in 4.0 innings of work, giving up one run on three hits and a walk. Senior Lindsey Dunlap had another strong outing in the series, striking out four in 3.0 frames.

    Frozen in a scoreless pitchers’ duel through three innings, Kentucky jumped on the scoreboard first again with an RBI single by nine-hole hitter Alice O’Brien in the top of the fourth.

    State took the lead in the bottom of the fifth thanks in part to two Big Blue miscues. Gates jump started the offense with a one-out infield single, and stole second following the next out. With the tying run in scoring position, Bell sliced a grounder to the UK first baseman. The Wildcat backhanded the ball, but it bounced off her glove away from her, causing Gates to score from second. Bell jogged to the next bag when Cooley was hit by a pitch, bringing up Smith at the dish.

    On a 1-0 count, the Hawaiian Hammer sent a rocket on the ground to the UK shortstop, who booted the ball. The yellow, round object drifted into center field, as Bell came full circle with the go-ahead run for the 2-1 Bulldog advantage.

    The Wildcats clawed their way back into the game in the top of the sixth, when left fielder Ginny Carroll connected on a solo home run to center field.

    State’s chances of a second-consecutive walk-off win looked slim when UK pitcher Chanda Bell started off the seventh stanza with two outs. One out away from another extra-inning game between to the two teams, Cooley drew a walk on four pitches. Smith, the reigning SEC Player of the Week stepped up to the plate and hammered it to the wall in deep left-center field. Kentucky connected on the relay perfectly, but it was not in time as Cooley tapped the dish to end the game for the second-straight day.

    “This win was huge for our team,” Cooley said. “This weekend was by far the best crowd we have had. They were so involved and gave us so much confidence.”