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    SEC Sunday Softball Update

    softBALL RESULTS
    Kentucky 5, Florida 1
    Auburn 4, South Carolina 1
    Tennessee 2, Ole Miss 1
    LSU 1, Georgia 0
    Alabama 5, Arkansas 1

    Riley’s Bases-Clearing Double Propels UK to Series Upset

    GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Senior Rachel Riley’s bases-clearing double led a four-run sixth inning to guide the Kentucky softball team to a series-clinching 5-1 victory at No. 2 Florida on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats have now captured series wins over the Gators in each of the past two seasons. The series loss to the Wildcats is the first of the season for Florida, and the four-run victory is the largest by a Gator opponent in 2012.

    Kentucky’s offense came through with the four-spot in the sixth, but again senior pitcher Chanda Bell proved to be the difference for the Wildcats. She held the Gators to just one run in 14 innings of work in two victories in the series. In today’s win she struck out 13 batters, the most strikeouts she has tossed in a Southeastern Conference series this season.

    With the win the Wildcats improve to 26-27 overall and 12-13 in SEC action. UK has now secured a spot in the SEC Tournament for a record-breaking fourth consecutive season. Florida falls to 43-8 overall and 20-5 in league action.

    Riley led a bevy of Wildcat hitters who had success against both of Florida’s pitchers in today’s contest. The senior was 1-for-2 with the three-run double. She also walked twice. Junior Alice O’Brien went 3-for-3 and scored twice. Junior Kara Dill logged a 2-for-3 day with an RBI, a run scored and a walk, while senior Brittany Cervantes went 1-for-3 with a sixth-inning RBI.

    UK scratched the scoreboard in the top half of the third to grab the early advantage. O’Brien singled up the middle with one out to jump-start the inning. She’d shift into scoring position on a passed ball by the Gators’ catcher. Cervantes then sent a chopper to first that nicked the first baseman’s glove placing runners on the corners. Dill delivered an RBI single into center field for the 1-0 Wildcat advantage.

    Florida rallied for a score in the home half of the fifth to even the game at one apiece. The Gators loaded the bases with a pair of infield singles and a hit batter with nobody out. A sacrifice fly from Lauren Haeger plated the score. Bell escaped further damage by picking up her 10th strikeout of the game and induced an inning-ending pop-up to short.

    Kentucky responded immediately with a four-run sixth inning to recapture the lead and go ahead 5-1. Sophomore Lauren Cumbess logged a four-pitch one-out walk to begin the rally. After the second out of the frame, O’Brien picked up her third hit of the game when she found a gap in right-center to place runners on the corners. Cervantes then delivered an RBI single that dipped just over the second baseman’s head for the inning’s first score. Dill then notched the second walk of the inning to load the bases to set the stage for Riley. The senior laced a bases-clearing double along the left field line placing the Gators into their largest deficit of the season.

    After the Wildcats fell in order in the top half of the first, Florida notched a leadoff walk. Bell, however, was unfazed and struck out the next three batters she faced.

    Freshman Griffin Joiner sliced a bloop single into shallow right field to begin the second stanza. Sophomore Ginny Carroll was able to execute a sacrifice bunt to shift the runner into scoring position, but consecutive groundouts to short ended the threat for the visitors.

    Florida opened the bottom of the second by notching a leadoff double and then a left field single to threaten early. Bell again came up with clutch pitching and struck out the next threat batters she faced to escape the jam unscathed.

    For the third consecutive inning the Gators placed the lead runner aboard thanks to an infield bunt single. However, UK responded in similar fashion by recording outs in the next three at-bats to quell the threat.

    Sophomore Emily Jolly singled into left to leadoff the fourth and Cumbess shifted the runner into scoring position with another well-executed sacrifice. Following a strikeout, O’Brien notched her second hit up the middle of the afternoon to place runners on the corners. The inning would end with a groundout to second without the Wildcats converting to add to the lead.

    After yielding a one-out double, Bell struck out the final two batters in the fourth. It marked the third time in four innings Bell had logged all three outs by way of a strikeout.

    Dill drove a ball into shallow left field to begin the fifth and Riley earned her second walk of the game. UK would suffer a double-play and a foul-out to end the inning without rallying for a score.

    In the bottom of the sixth the Gators were able to produce a two-out single into left center, but Bell wasted little time escaping the frame by notching her 12th strikeout of the contest.

    Bell completed the win with three straight outs in the home half of the seventh. She notched a pair of fly-outs and her 13th strikeout of the game in the winning effort.

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    Auburn Sweeps South Carolina

    Columbia, S.C.  – Auburn pitchers Jenee Loree and Lauren Schmalz combined to hold South Carolina to one unearned run on four hits as the Tigers’ softball team completed a series sweep with a 4-1 win Sunday afternoon.
       
    Auburn improved to 31-19 overall and 10-15 in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks dropped 23-29 overall and 3-22 in the SEC.
       
    “It feels good to get a sweep in conference play,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “Our pitchers did a great job today. Offensively, we were able to string some hits together and push some runs across. We need to take the momentum from this weekend and take into next weekend against Mississippi State. They are playing very well and have always played us tough.”
       
    Jenee Loree started and earned the win to improve to 11-7. Loree allowed one run, unearned, on two hits with two walks and five strikeouts in four and two-thirds innings. Lauren Schmalz earned her third save of the weekend, allowing two hits in two and one-third innings with one strikeout.
       
    Kierstyn White started and took the loss for South Carolina to fall to 6-9. White allowed four runs, all earned, on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Katelynn Howser pitched the final two and two-thirds, scattering three hits and striking out three. 
       
    After three scoreless innings, the Tigers jumped on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Brooke Lathan started the rally with a two-out single to left. On a 1-1 count, Branndi Melero ripped a ball to center that hit the top of Lauren Lackey’s glove as she jumped to catch it. The ball hit the ground to give Melero an RBI triple. With Cailtin Jordan at the plate, White delivered a wild pitch that allowed Melero to score for a 2-0 Auburn lead.
       
    The Tigers added to their lead in the top of the fifth. Lauren Guzman led off with a double to left-center and took third on a single to center by Amber Harrison. On a 2-2 pitch, Elizabeth Eisterhold hit a sac fly to center that easily scored Guzman from third for a 3-0 lead. Harrison took third on the play and came in to score on a ground ball to short by Caitlin Schultze to make it a 4-0 game.
       
    Schultze was safe at first on the play, the result of a poor throw from Sam Arbaugh at shortstop. White was lifted for Howser after the play. Maris Medina was put in to run for Schultze, and took second on a single to center by Lathan. Howser, however, would end the Auburn rally with a pair of strikeouts, leaving two stranded on base.
       
    After allowing just one hit through four innings, Loree ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth. Consecutive one-out errors put runners at second and first. Loree picked up the second out on a swinging third strike of Jackie Slawson. Lackey then loaded the bases on an infield single that rolled just in front of the pitcher’s circle.
       
    Loree then issued a walk on four pitches to pinch-hitter Samie Garcia to force home the first South Carolina run of the game, making it 4-1. Schmalz was then brought in for Loree and ended the South Carolina rally by forcing Kaitlin Westfall to fly out to centerfield.
       
    Schmalz retired six straight Gamecocks before giving up a two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning by pinch-hitter Kristen Struett. That was followed by another single to center by Lackey which brought the tying run the plate. With Garcia at the plate, Schmalz fell behind 2-1 before forcing a fly out to right for the final out of the game.

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    #6 TENNESSEE SOFTBALL CONCLUDES SEC CAMPAIGN WITH 2-1 VICTORY OVER OLE MISS

    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Sunday afternoon in front of the second-largest crowd in Lee Softball Stadium history (1,843), the #6 Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (44-9, 22-6 Southeastern Conference) wrapped up its 2012 league campaign with its 13th-straight SEC win and 17th-consecutive triumph overall, sweeping its series over Ole Miss, 2-1.

    Junior pitcher Ivy Renfroe picked up her 13th-straight decision victory and improved to 18-6 overall, allowing a single run on three hits with a walk and three strikeouts over 5.1 innings of relief.  Sophomore Ellen Renfroe started the contest in the circle, permitting just one hit, walking three and K’ing one in 1.2 frames.

    At the plate sophomore left fielder Melissa Davin continued her incredible weekend at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a RBI, improving her series totals to a .833 batting average with two HR’s and six RBIs.  Junior third baseman Raven Chavanne was a perfect 3-for-3 at the dish, reaching safely in her 33rd-consecutive match-up while raising her SEC-best batting average to .439.  Junior right fielder Kat Dotson (1-for-3), senior designated player Shelby Burchell (1-for-3) and sophomore center fielder Tory Lewis (1-for-3) each contributed one of the Tennessee offense’s eight total hits.

    “Every win’s a good win, no question about it,” Lady Vol Co-Head Coach Ralph Weekly said.  “In that one we struggled a little bit, and like I told you last night I knew we would.  Ole Miss’ Kendall Bruning threw a really good game today.  We seemed to hit a dozen ground balls with runners in scoring position.  I’m sure there are no worms left on this infield because we beat them up, but you know those things happen.  Pretty good pitching, but our defense played great.  Tory Lewis’ catch to end the fifth inning was phenomenal.”  

    Ole Miss wasted no time in getting a threat started immediately in the top of the first inning against Ellen Renfroe.  Left fielder Brittany Broome walked with one down and was soon joined on the base paths via a single from Allison Brown that just eluded a leaping sophomore Madison Shipman at short.  First baseman Londen Ladner hit a ball to third that Chavanne corralled routinely on one hop.  The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native turned and stepped on the third base bag before firing a strike to junior Melissa Brown at first to conclude the threat via double play.

    As she has done so often during her career in the Orange & White, Chavanne got the Lady Vol offense started christening UT’s initial at-bat by beating out an infield single.  Following a sacrifice bunt from Dotson, Shipman drew a walk off Ole Miss starter Kendall Bruning and then junior second baseman Lauren Gibson reached on a fielding error by second baseman Corrine Doornberg, packing the bases.  Davin stepped into the batter’s box with two retired in the frame and managed a RBI single on the infield as Shipman crossed easily from 60 feet away for a 1-0 advantage.

    After each team left a pair of base runners stranded during the second, Ole Miss managed to dead-lock the contest at 1-1 in the top of the third off two base hits against Lady Vol reliever Ivy Renfroe.  Broome got things going with a one-out walk and a steal of second, moving to third on a base knock to center off the bat of Brown.  Ladner hit a ball to second that was nabbed on the short hop by UT’s Gibson.  The Pasadena, Md., native fired a strike to the plate as senior catcher Ashley Andrews apllied the tag to preserve Tennessee’s one-run advantage.  Unfortunately for the Big Orange, third baseman Cali Overbeck hit the very next pitch up the middle for a RBI as Brown scooted home to tie the count at 1-1.     

    Consecutive singles from Burchell and Davin got a scoring chance going for the Lady Vols with one out in the bottom of the third.  Junior first baseman Brown stepped to the plate and ripped an unfortunate liner to short that was caught on the fly and then turned into a twin-killing, as Burchell was doubled off at second to end the threat.
     
    Hardin christened Ole Miss’ half of the fourth with a lead-off single through the left side of the infield and quickly moved into scoring position via a perfect sacrifice bunt by catcher Marina Parra.  Following a fly out to center for the second retirement, Parra swiped third to move within 60 feet of pay dirt.  She would remain right there, however, as Ivy Renfroe struck out Broome to leave the runner stranded.

    A miscue on Ole Miss shortstop Allison Brown on a grounder by Andrews got what proved to be the decisive rally started for the Big Orange in the bottom of the fourth.  Following a perfect bunt single off the bat of Lewis, Chavanne advanced the base runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.  That effort paid dividends with two retired as the Rebel coaching staff decided to walk Shipman intentionally with a bag open.  On the first offering of the intentional walk, the ball got away from Parra behind the plate, escaping to the backstop as Andrews scored easily from third to give the Orange & White a 2-1 advantage.

    The nation’s top-rated defense made itself visible with an Ole Miss runner aboard and two down in the top of the fifth.  Designated player Erinn Jayjohn blasted a drive to deep left field as Davin attempted to track the ball back towards the Lee Stadium fence.  Out of nowhere, UT center fielder Lewis raced into the picture, helping out her outfield cohort with a back-handed running catch against the wall for an impressive third out.

    That proved the last gasp for the UM offense against Ivy Renfroe as the 6-0 right-hander retired all six batters she faced over the sixth and seventh innings as Tennessee concluded its league campaign at 22-6 overall.

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    No. 23 Softball Topples No. 12 Georgia on Senior Day

    BATON ROUGE – Brittany Mack provided the Senior Day heroics, but not in the way that the decorated All-American has been accustomed to during her LSU career – she ripped a two-out, RBI double for her first career hit and first career RBI as the No. 23 LSU softball team claimed a 1-0 victory over No. 12 Georgia during Sunday’s regular season home finale at Tiger Park.

    Prior to the game, Mack gave the ball on Senior Day to her cohort Rachele Fico. The junior right-hander tossed a four-hit shutout and fanned six batters versus two walks to improve to 16-9 on the season. She pounded the strike zone early and often with 17-of-27 first-pitch strikes. 

    The Tigers (34-18, 15-10 SEC) snapped a seven-game losing streak to Georgia (38-13, 15-10 SEC) and moved back into a fourth-place tie with the Bulldogs in the overall SEC standings.

    Seven of the eight members of the senior class started in the game. Katie Guillory has missed the season due to injury will return to the Tigers for the 2013 season. The octet threw out the ceremonial first pitches leading into the game and were honored in a special postgame tribute afterwards. 

    “I don’t think you could have scripted a much better day for Senior Day at Tiger Park,” head coach Beth Torina said. “All the seniors contributed. They’ve had such great careers, and they deserve this day. I really don’t know if it gets a lot better than this.”

    Tammy Wray knocked a leadoff single to open the fifth inning. Pinch runner Alex Boulet advanced to second base on Ashley Applegate’s sacrifice bunt and scooted over to third base on Morgan Russell’s ground out.

    On the first pitch of the at-bat, Mack crushed the offering towards right centerfield where the ball landed in-front UGA centerfielder Brittany Hubbard’s diving attempt. Boulet crossed the plate for the game’s only run.

    “All I could think was ‘Are you kidding me?’ It was unbelievable for her to get her first career hit and her first career RBI in that moment,” Torina said. “I know Brittney’s a good hitter, and I have all the confidence in her abilities. The fact that she’s the one that scored that run today – she’s the one that was selfless, and she gave up the ball before the game to allow to Rachele Fico to pitch. You really just couldn’t have scripted a better ending to their Senior Day.”

    “It was a solid hit,” Mack said. “I thought that with my luck, the centerfielder was going to make a miraculous dive and catch it. I looked up and saw that it kept going, so I had to fist pump. I kept going to second. It was just unbelievable not only to get the hit but also to score Alex Boulet. I told her when she was going out to pinch run, I told her, ‘You’re scoring this time.’”

    “Brittany Mack is awesome,” Fico said. “I’m so glad that she’s my teammate, and she’s one of my best friends – on and off the field. She works so hard and sets such a good example for everyone else. I’m just so happy that she’s my teammate. I couldn’t be prouder of her today coming up to bat and getting the job done.”

    Georgia placed the tying run on second base during the seventh inning. Fico closed out the game in-style and mowed down Gracie Goulder to secure the 1-0 win.

    “This win was huge today for us,” Fico said. “We got swept against Tennessee earlier in the year, and we vowed that we wouldn’t let it happen again. We knew that we really had to come out fighting today and do whatever it took to win. We really got it done. We’ve got to keep playing this way – practicing hard and executing in games.”

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    No. 3 Alabama Softball Claims Series with 5-1 Win

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The third ranked Alabama softball team closed out the series with a 5-1 victory over Arkansas, Sunday afternoon at Bogle Park. With the win, the Crimson Tide improves to 45-5 on the season and 21-4 in Southeastern Conference play.

    Alabama banged out 10 hits with sophomore Kaila Hunt leading the way with a 3-for-3 effort. Sophomore Jackie Traina batted 2-for-2 and earned her 29th win in the circle. The right-hander allowed one run on five hits and struck out 10 in her 22nd complete game of the season.

    After Devon Wallace once again stung the Crimson Tide with a home run, Traina returned the favor. The sophomore blasted a two-run home run over the wall in right-center in the second inning to give Alabama a 2-1 lead.

    Alabama added two more runs in the third. Hunt hit a sac-fly that scored Jennifer Fenton and then Jazlyn Lunceford smashed a double off the wall in left to score pinch-runner Keima Davis.

    Senior Amanda Locke increased the lead to 5-1 with her 16th home run of the season. Locke turned on a
    1-2 pitch and sent it well over the wall in left.

    With the win and Florida loss, Alabama once again reclaims sole possession of first place in the SEC standings.