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    SEC Softball Today: April 27

    softBALL RESULTS
    Kentucky 2, Florida 0
    Tennessee 5, Ole Miss 1
    Auburn 1, South Carolina 0
    Alabama 13, Arkansas 6
    Georgia 1, LSU 0

    Bell Dominates in Circle, Cervantes Leads Bats in Kentucky Upset of Florida

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Behind a dominating pitching performance from senior Chanda Bell and a home run from classmate Brittany Cervantes the Kentucky softball team earned a 2-0 upset of Southeastern Conference-leading and No. 2 ranked Florida in Gainesville, Fla., Friday night. The win is the sixth over a top-25 ranked team this year for the Blue and White.

    Bell shutout the Gators in a complete-game effort while striking out eight in her 13th win of the season. The scoreless effort by the home team was just Florida’s fourth of the season.

    “Chanda really was tremendous tonight,” UK coach Rachel Lawson said. “To hold a team like Florida scoreless and to only give up four hits was the reason we were able to win this game.”

    Cervantes’ blasted her team-leading 10th home run of the season to become the first player in UK allure to belt 10 or more long balls in a season during every year of her career. She would go 2-for-2 on the day which included a single and a walk.

    With the victory Kentucky improves to 25-26 overall on the year and 11-12 in league action. Florida falls to 42-7 and 19-4 within the SEC.

    UK plated both of its scores in the top half of the third for the only runs of the game. Cervantes smacked a two-out solo homer over the left field wall for the first tally of the frame. Kentucky produced another score when junior Kara Dill was able to move all the way to second on an erroneous throw by Florida’s shortstop. Senior Rachel Riley then delivered an RBI single into right field to give the Wildcats a lead they would never relinquish.

    Bell yielded a bunt-single to Michelle Moultrie to open the home half of the first. Freshman catcher Griffin Joiner hooked up with sophomore second baseman Emily Jolly to catch Moultrie on the base paths. It marked just the third time all season Moultrie had been caught stealing. Bell then retired the next two batters she faced for a quick 1-2-3 frame.

    After Kentucky dropped in order in the second frame, the Gators notched a two-out single in the bottom half of the inning. Bell wasted little time escaping the jam by inducing an inning-ending groundout to Jolly.

    Florida threatened in the home half of the third when the leadoff batter reached on an error by the Wildcats. After a sacrifice shifted the runner into scoring position, UK looked to be in danger. An infield single by Moultrie was mishandled by UK, but a heady play by Jolly saw the runner at second attempting to come all the way home and Kentucky successfully caught the runner. The final out of the frame came when Moultrie ran into Dill at short on an infield ground ball.

    The Wildcats dropped in order in the top of the fourth and the Gators placed a runner aboard thanks to a one-out walk. Bell sat the next two batters down she faced to get out of the jam and preserve the 2-0 lead for the visitors.

    Cervantes reached base for the third time in the game with a two-out slicer into right field in the top of the fifth. UK would end the inning with her still aboard on a fly-out to shallow left field.

    Bell made quick work of the bottom of Florida’s order in the home half of the sixth including picking up two strikeouts to run her total to five for the game.

    The visitors suffered a 1-2-3 inning in the top half of the sixth. Florida then notched a one-out bloop single into left field, but again Bell stood her ground and retired the next two batters she faced to escape the inning without allowing any further damage.

    Kentucky had success early in the top of the seventh when sophomore Ellen Weaver opened the frame with a four-pitch walk. Freshman Sarah Frazer then roped her first career hit into right field to place two aboard. A grounder to third marked the first out of the inning. UK then suffered an uncharacteristic double-play with a fly-out to center and a base runner leaving early attempting to tag-up.

    Bell closed out her dominant performance with a game-winning 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the seventh. The game closed with the senior right-hander tossing her eighth strikeout of the game in the winning effort.

    The teams will meet for a second time on Saturday with a 1 p.m. ET first pitch. The game will air live on Sun Sports.



    No. 6 Tennessee Wins 15th Straight with 5-1 Victory Over Ole Miss

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – In front of a sold out crowd of 1,773 Orange-clad faithful on Friday night at the Lee Softball Stadium, the #6 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (42-9, 20-6 Southeastern Conference) picked up its 15th-straight win overall and its 11th-consecutive SEC victory by topping Ole Miss in the two teams’ series opener, 5-1.

    The Big Orange banged out eight hits in the triumph, even invoking some of its patented fifth-inning magic by plating two runs during a fifth-frame outburst.  UT has now totaled a staggering 33 tallies during the fifth over the course of its 15-game winning streak, accounting for 40% of Tennessee’s total offensive output over that span.

    Sophomore shortstop Madison Shipman (1-for-4, double, two RBIs) continued her impressive work at the plate, knocking in two more runs to give her a SEC-best 56 RBIs for the campaign.  Junior second baseman Lauren Gibson was 1-for-2 with a two-RBI single and junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was 2-for-4 with two runs and a RBI while raising her season average to a squad-best .420 and reaching base successfully for the 31st-straight contest.  Junior right fielder Kat Dotson was 2-for-3 with a pair of tallies, sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin was a perfect 1-for-1 with a run scored and two walks and sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis was 1-for-2.

    In the circle sophomore Ellen Renfroe improved to 26-3 overall and 13-3 in league action, allowing a single run on one hit with five walks and eight strikeouts over 4.2 innings of effort.  Junior Ivy Renfroe earned her third save of the year by permitting just one hit with three K’s in 2.1 frames of relief. 

    “It’s always good to get the first win in a series,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Karen Weekly said.  “It’s an important series for us, the last one of the season.  We really want to play well this weekend.  Ellen (Renfroe) had a rough start, which is really uncharacteristic for her.  She battled through it, kept us in the game and held the score down so we could get a few runs on the board.  What can you say about Ivy (Renfroe)?  She comes into the game with the bases loaded and their best RBI producer at the plate and gets a big out.  That was huge for us to stop Ole Miss’ momentum.”  

    Ole Miss wasted no time jumping in front on the scoreboard in the top of the first, taking advantage of three walks and a wild pitch to nab a 1-0 advantage.  Second baseman Corrine Doornberg opened the frame with a free pass, swiping second to reach scoring position with one down.  After shortstop Allison Brown walked, first baseman Londen Ladner hit a ball to short that Shipman fielded before firing high to second.  On the play Gibson made a leaping grab and managed to tag the base in time for the second out of the frame.  With the bags packed after a free pass issued to third baseman Cali Overbeck, Ellen Renfroe unleashed a wild pitch as Doornberg scored easily from third for a 1-0 lead.  A big strikeout of designated player Erinn Jayjohn limited the damage to just a single tally as Ole Miss left a pair stranded.

    Gibson became the initial base runner of the evening for Tennessee via a lead-off walk starting the bottom of the second.  Senior designated player Shelby Burchell absolutely ripped a shot up the middle but it was caught on a short hop stab by pitcher Kendall Bruning.  The hurler pivoted quickly and started a 1-6-3 double play to clear the base paths of Lady Vols and end any potential threat.

    Davin got a Big Orange scoring opportunity underway in the bottom of the third, leading off the frame with a base knock via a high bouncer over the infield and then swiping her fifth base of the year.  Despite a pair of K’s that threatened to kill the outburst before it even started and with Davin at third after a passed ball, Chavanne tied the contest at 1-1 via a RBI infield single.  Following a walk to Dotson, Shipman blasted a two-run double, her team-leading 10th of the season, off the Lee Stadium wall, pushing the Lady Vols to a 3-1 advantage.         

    With two outs in the top of the fifth and Ole Miss center fielder Dallas Hardin stationed at first following a walk, a UT throwing error on a grounder allowed the lead runner to move to third and Doornberg to roll into second.  A free pass issued to left fielder Brittany Broome ended Ellen Renfroe’s stint in the circle as sister Ivy entered in relief facing a save situation.  The Jackson, Tenn., native immediately got Tennessee out of the bases-loaded threat, inducing a pop-up from shortstop and No. 3-hitter Allison Brown as Gibson made the inning-ending grab.

    Having escaped a jam in the previous half-frame, Tennessee again pulled out some of its patented fifth-inning magic, plating two runs on three hits during the bottom of the fifth.  The speed game again got things going as Chavanne and Dotson each singled and swiped bases to place a pair of Lady Vols in scoring position.  With one down Gibson stepped into the batter’s box and contributed a two-RBI single as the UT lead expanded to a more comfortable 5-1.

    A one-out single from Overbeck got the Rebels in business briefly in the top of the sixth, but not for long as Jayjohn hit a shot that was caught by junior first baseman Melissa Brown just off the ground.  The Valencia, Calif., native turned quickly and stepped on the bag at first to record a big inning-ending double play.

    The Big Orange nearly added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth but left the bases loaded as the two teams went to the seventh with Ole Miss having one final chance to get back in the contest.

    Ivy Renfroe wouldn’t allow the Rebels to get anything started in finishing out the victory, however, striking out the side in order as Natalie Nimmo, Hardin and Lauren Lindsey went down via K.  

    Tennessee and Ole Miss return to action at the Lee Softball Stadium on Sat., April 28, at 1 p.m. ET in a game slated for live television broadcast via SportSouth.



    Auburn Softball Claims 1-0 Win Over South Carolina in Series Opener

    Columbia, S.C.  – Auburn softball seniors delivered a win Friday night as Amber Harrison provided the game’s only offense and pitcher Jenee Loree and Lauren Schmalz combined on a three-hit shutout as the Tigers defeated South Carolina 1-0.

    Auburn improved to 29-19 overall and 8-15 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina dropped to 23-27 overall and 3-20 in the SEC. The Tigers and Gamecocks play game two of the series Saturday at 6 p.m. CT.

    “This was a really good win and our seniors really stepped up to get it for us,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “Amber had the only big hit of the game with the home run and Jenee and Lauren did a great job against their hitters. South Carolina had a couple of chances to score but our pitchers and our defense got the job done.”

    Jenee Loree started and earned the win to improve to 10-7. Loree went five and two-thirds, allowing just three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. Lauren Schmalz earned her first save of the season, throwing one and one-third perfect innings, striking out two.

    Harrison provided the game’s only run with a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth inning. It was Harrison’s first home run of the season, 14th of her career, and it sailed over the fence in left-center.

    After retiring the first nine batters she faced, Loree gave up a leadoff walk to Samie Garcia in the bottom of the fourth. After a sac bunt moved Garcia to second, Loree left her stranded as she forced a fly out and a ground out to end the inning.

    With one out in the bottom of the fifth, Loree gave up her first hit of the game as Evan Childs blooped a single into left field just beyond the reach of a diving Lauren Guzman. Loree would bear down and register a pair of strikeouts, however, to leave Childs stuck at first base.

    In the bottom of the sixth Garcia gave the Gamecocks life with a one-out double to the gap in left-center. After falling behind 1-0, Loree was able to fan Lauren Lackey on a swinging third strike for the second out of the inning. With Kaitlin Westfall at the plate, Loree quickly worked ahead 0-2. But on a 1-2 pitch, Westfall reached on an infield single that dribbled slowly to the hole at short. Garcia took third on the play.

    That chased Loree from the game and brought Schmalz in to pitch. Facing Dana Hawthorn, Schmalz ended the inning on just two pitches with a fly out to centerfield that preserved the one-run lead. 

    In the bottom of the seventh, Schmalz fanned Chelsea Hawkins on a swinging third strike for the first out of the inning. Schmalz fell behind 2-1 and 3-2, but was able to get her second strikeout when Childs swung and missed for the second out of the inning. With two outs, Schmalz forced Kristen Struett to foul out to Brooke Lathan on a 1-2 pitch to end the game.



    No. 3 Alabama Opens Series with Convincing 13-6 Win

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The third ranked Alabama softball team scored in bunches as it raced out to an early series lead with a 13-6 victory over Arkansas, Friday night at Bogle Park. With the victory, the Crimson Tide improves to 44-4 overall and 20-3 in Southeastern Conference play. The Razorbacks drop to 24-23 on the year and 5-18 in league play.

    Alabama scored five runs in the first, three in the second and used another five-run inning in the fifth to run away from an Arkansas team it has now beaten 31 times in a row.

    The Tide was efficient at the plate, scoring the 13 runs on only seven hits. The one-through-six batters each tallied a hit for Alabama as senior Jennifer Fenton paced the team with two hits.

    Sophomore pitcher Jackie Traina earned the complete game win as the right-hander improves to 28-1 on the season. Traina allowed six runs on eight hits and struck out eight.

    Alabama once again raced out to a big lead as it scored five first inning runs on the strength of loading the bases before recording an out.

    Two bases loaded walks started the scoring for the Tide, before a Kaila Hunt sac-fly plated Amanda Locke and then Jazlyn Lunceford was able to score on the play on a throwing error. Cassie Reilly-Boccia capped off the inning with a run on a wild pitch. 

    Arkansas was able to get some runs back by scoring three in the bottom half of the frame. Jennifer Rambo supplied the big hit for the Razorbacks as she drove in three on a bases loaded double to left field.

    Alabama continued to put the pressure on as Locke once again went deep for the Tide, this time blasting a three-run shot over the wall in center to give Alabama a 8-3 lead. The home run was her fifth in the last four games and her 15th on the season.

    After Arkansas pulled within two after scoring three runs in the fourth to move the score to 8-6, Alabama answered with another five-spot, to seize the final 13-6 margin.

    Much like the first inning, Alabama took advantage of loading the bases with no outs. Hunt recorded a walk and then Hays was hit by a pitch to plate two runs without an out. Courtney Conley then hit a sac-fly to plate pinch runner Keima Davis before Braud hit a two-out, two-run double in left-center.

    With the win and the Florida loss, Alabama now holds a one game lead in the SEC standings with five games to play.

    The two teams will resume the series on Saturday when they return to Bogle Park for a 1 p.m. first pitch.



    Georgia Edges LSU 1-0 in 15-Inning Dual

    ATHENS, Ga. – In what was the longest game in University of Georgia softball history, the 12th-ranked Bulldogs took down No. 23 LSU 1-0 in 15 innings. Georgia improved to 37-12 overall and 14-9 in the Southeastern Conference. LSU dropped to 33-17 and 14-9 in SEC play.

    Senior Erin Arevalo threw a complete game, one-hit shutout and struck out a career high 15 in the win to improve to 20-5 on the year. Arevalo took a no-hitter into the bottom of the 10th inning and allowed just three balls into the outfield, two of which were in foul territory.

    Rachele Fico took the loss to drop to 15-9 on the year. She allowed one run on eight hits and six walks, while striking out 13.

    Niaja Griffin, Tess Sito and Ashley Pauly led the team with two hits each, as the Bulldogs tallied eight on the night. LSU was held to just one hit in 15 innings of play, a double off the bat of Monica Russell

    Kristyn Sandberg, who reached base six times in seven plate appearances, led off the 15th inning with a walk and moved to second on a groundout by Ashley Razey. With one away, Griffin reached on a two-base error that scored Sandberg for the game-winner.

    Arevalo retired the side in the bottom of the frame, picking up her 15th strikeout of the game when she caught Jacee Blades swinging to lead off the inning. The final two outs were recorded on a groundout and a pop up to seal the 1-0 win.

    The Tigers put a pair of runners on in the bottom of the ninth on consecutive walks. The runners moved into scoring position at second and third with one away. Sandberg recorded the second out by making a diving catch in foul territory. LSU’s runner at third seemed to score the winning run, but was called out for leaving early, as Sandberg had already thrown the ball back to Arevalo in the circle.

    Arevalo carried a perfect game into the bottom of the fifth before LSU got its first base runner when Santos drew a four-pitch walk and was sacrificed over by Allison Falcon. Arevalo retired the next two batters to end the LSU scoring threat.
     
    Georgia and LSU will face each other in the second game of the weekend tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET.