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    SEC Softball Today: May 5

    Kentucky 2, LSU 1
    Auburn 4, Mississippi State 1
    Ole Miss 6, South Carolina 3
    Alabama 9, Florida 1
    Georgia 3, Arkansas 2
    Arkansas 2, Georgia 1

    Seniors Catapult Kentucky to First Ever Series Win Over LSU

    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Seniors Brittany Cervantes, Rachel Riley and Chanda Bell combined to clinch a 2-1 victory over No. 22 LSU to claim the series with the Tigers for the first time in school history on Saturday afternoon in front of 1,151 boisterous fans at the UK Softball Complex. Cervantes hit her team-leading 12th home run of the season in the first inning and sophomore Ginny Carroll connected for her seventh to provide the game-winning run.

    Riley was the winning pitcher in the circle after working 6.1 innings and limiting the Tigers to one run for her eighth victory of the year. Bell entered in the top of the seventh and logged the final two outs to preserve her third save of the season. LSU’s Brittany Mack drops to 14-10 after giving up two home runs.

    “Rachel Riley was fantastic today,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “It was really awesome for her to do so well on senior weekend.”

    She earned five strikeouts while avoiding walking a single batter in the game. She yielded a mere six hits with none going for extra bases.

    Kentucky with the win moves to one game above .500 for the first time since March 9 as UK now stands at 28-27 overall with a 14-13 record in Southeastern Conference games. The conference victory ensures a .500 or better record in league play for the second consecutive season and for just the third time in program history. LSU drops to 34-20 in the 2012 campaign with a 15-12 SEC mark.

    Cervantes picked up where she left off on Friday night, pounding a home run opposite field in right-center to lead off the bottom of the first for Kentucky. The round tripper marked consecutive at bats in which the senior went deep following the heroic bottom of the seventh dinger in Friday night’s contest. Furthermore, the tally for the Chatsworth, Calif., native was her fourth RBI in three plate appearances.

    LSU would respond in the visitor’s side of the third with a two-out rally. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, Dylan Supak got aboard after she was struck with an errant pitch to start things for the Tigers. After a single through the left side by Cassie Trosclair, three-hole hitter Juliana Santos laced an RBI single to left, scoring Supak from second. Riley would escape further damage with the score knotted at 1-1.

    After Supak got aboard to lead off the Tiger half of the fifth, Kentucky’s Emily Jolly turned in a web gem helping lead a 4-6-3 double play to escape the LSU threat. Riley retired Trosclair to end the inning following the defensive dandy.

    Carroll crushed a pitch out to deep left center to break up the tie and help Kentucky reclaim the lead in the home half of the fifth. The home run was Carroll’s seventh on the season, and 18th RBI of the year. Carroll went 2-for-2 in the game after a seeing-eye double that touched chalk in the bottom of the second.

    In the top of the seventh, LSU pinch hitter Simone Heyward reached to lead off the inning with a slap up the middle. After a sacrifice to bring Heyward into scoring position, Supak reached on a walk which ended Riley’s day in the circle.

    Bell entered the game inheriting runners on first and second and one out. Bell moved the scoreboard to two outs after forcing Ashley Langoni to foul out to catcher Griffin Joiner against the back stop. LSU executed the double steal on a 1-2 pitch to shift both runners into scoring position with two outs. Bell worked a full count and eventually induced Tiger batter Cassie Trosclair into a game-ending grounder to second to clinch the series for UK.

    “For Chanda to come in there in the seventh and shut down their best couple of hitters was awesome.” Lawson said.

    The three-game SEC series featuring UK and LSU will conclude on Sunday afternoon with Kentucky looking to sweep LSU for the first time in school history.

    First pitch is slated for 1:00 p.m. ET and UK will honor seniors Macy Allen, Chanda Bell, Brittany Cervantes, Ashleigh Gustafson, Rachel Riley and Erika Silence prior to the opening pitch. The senior day ceremony is slated to begin around 12:30 p.m. ET.

    Auburn Softball Evens Series With 4-1 Win Over Mississippi State

    Auburn, Ala.  –  Seniors Elizabeth Eisterhold, Lauren Guzman and Amber Harrison each drove in a run to lead the Auburn softball team to a 4-1 win over Mississippi State Saturday afternoon on Senior Day.
    Auburn improved to 32-20 overall and 11-16 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State dropped to 33-20 overall and 12-15 in the SEC. The winner of Sunday’s series finale will be the seventh seed in next week’s SEC Tournament, while the loser will go in as the eighth seed. Sunday’s game starts at 1 p.m. CT.
    “I’m very happy that our seniors got a win and that they came up with big hits on their day,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “Lauren (Schmalz) did a great job against their hitters, keeping them to just two hits. Our defense turned a couple of double-plays, and that was certainly nice to see. Hopefully we can carry this into tomorrow’s game and go into the tournament with some momentum.”
    Lauren Schmalz improved to 9-8 with the complete-game performance. Schmalz allowed one run, earned, on two hits with no walks and six strikeouts.
    Lindsey Dunlap took the loss in relief to fall to 2-3. Dunlap allowed two runs, both earned, on two hits with two walks and three strikeouts in two innings of work. Kylie Vry allowed two runs, both earned, on three hits with no walks and one strikeout in three innings of relief work.
    Mississippi State took the lead in the top of the fourth, scoring once. Brittany Bell was hit by a pitch to open the inning and took second when Jessica Cooley dropped a bunt. Schmalz fielded the bunt and fired to second, but the throw was late. After a fly out for the first out of the inning, Sam Lenahan hit a ground ball to Lauren Guzman at shortstop. Guzman attempted to tag Bell, but was ruled to have missed, loading the bases. Heidi Shape followed with a ground out to second that easily scored Bell for a 1-0 Mississippi State lead.

    Auburn rallied to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth. Guzman led off with a triple to the wall in center. Eisterhold followed, drawing a four-pitch walk, and was lifted for pinch-runner Kristyn Richards. Caitlin Jordan loaded the bases when she took a ball in the dirt on a 3-2 count for a walk. That chased Dunlap from the game for Vry. On a 2-2 pitch, Vry forced Caitlin Schultze into a 6-4-3 ground ball double play, which scored Guzman from third to tie the game 1-1.
    Amber Harrison followed with a bloop single into shallow center to score Richards and give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.
    The Tigers extended their lead in the bottom of the fifth. Baylee Stephens was hit by a pitch to open the frame and took second on an infield single by Branndi Melero. After a sac bunt moved the runners to third and second with one out, Guzman hit a line drive single off the pitcher’s glove to score Stephens and give the Tigers a 3-1 lead.
    With Melero at third and Guzman at first, Eisterhold chopped a ground out to second. Melero scored on the throw to first and Guzman kept running to take third. Melero’s run made it a 4-1 game.
    After allowing a run in the fourth, Schmalz settled into a groove and retired the side in order in the fifth and had a leadoff single in the sixth wiped out by an inning-ending ground ball double play.
    In the top of the seventh, Schmalz fanned leadoff hitter Lenahan on a swinging third strike for the first out of the inning. On a 1-2 pitch, Schmalz forced Heidi Shape to ground out to Lathan at second base for the second out. Schmalz then ended the game when she fanned Courtney Vanlandingham on four pitches, the last a swinging third strike.

    Rebels Rally To Take Down Gamecocks On Senior Day

    OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss rallied for five runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by RBI singles from seniors Kelly Chandler and Amanda Hutcheson, as the Rebels knocked off South Carolina 6-3 on “Senior Day” at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.

    Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the sixth, first baseman Londen Lander started the Ole Miss (21-32, 6-21 SEC) rally with a single to left center and advanced to second on pitcher Erinn Jayjohn’s one-out single down the line in right. Chandler then singled to center and scored Ladner to tie the game, and an errant throw from South Carolina center fielder Laruen Lackey allowed pinch runner Dallas Hardin to score and Chandler to move to third. Hutcheson followed with an RBI bunt single to plate Chandler and pinch hitter Natalie Nimmo added an RBI double that put Ole Miss up 5-2. A wild pitch allowed Nimmo to move to third and left fielder Brittany Broome knocked her in with a sac fly that extended the Rebel lead to 6-2.

    Gamecock shortstop Samie Garica led off the top of the seventh with a solo home run to left that cut the Ole Miss lead to 6-3, but Jayjohn (6-13) retired the next three batters in order to secure the win. Jayjohn allowed three runs, only one earned, on six hits in the complete-game effort with one strikeout and two walks.

    Ole Miss jumped on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first after Broome singled up the middle and later scored on shortstop Allison Brown’s RBI double to right center that gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead.

    South Carolina (23-31, 3-24 SEC) designated player Kristen Struett led off the top of the second with a single to left and was pinch ran for by Hannah Milks, who stole second and then moved to third on a groundout.  Jayjohn got the next batter to groundout and walked first baseman Molly Brossart to put runners on the corners with two down, but got the next batter to groundout to third to end the threat.

    Gamecock third baseman Evan Childs was hit by a pitch to lead off the fourth and pinch hitter Hannah Milks reached on a throwing error by first baseman Londen Ladner on a sac bunt to put runners on first and second with no outs.

    Jayjohn got the next two batters to pop out and line out, but Brossart doubled to right to bring home Childs and Milks and give South Carolina a 2-1 lead.

    Ole Miss and South Carolina will wrap up their three-game set tomorrow at 1 p.m. at the Ole Miss Softball Complex. The game will be televised on SportSouth with Dave Neal and Barb Jordan calling all the action.

    Alabama Bounces Back in a Big Way in Run Rule Win


    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama softball team clinched at least a share of its third straight Southeastern Conference title as the Crimson Tide run-ruled Florida, 9-1, Saturday afternoon in front of 3,640 fans at Rhoads Stadium.

    With the win, Alabama improved to 46-6 overall and 22-5 in the SEC, while Florida dropped to 44-9 overall and 21-6 in the SEC. A win by the Tide tomorrow and it seals sole possession of the SEC regular season title.

    Alabama cranked out seven hits on the day, including two by junior Kayla Braud. Courtney Conley knocked in three runs for Alabama, while Jazlyn Lunceford drove in two. The run-rule loss for the Gators was its first since Kentucky did the honors on April 1 of last season.

    Jackie Traina pitched a complete game for Alabama, holding the Gators to just four hits en route to improving to 30-2 on the year. Traina struck out six batters and gave up just one run. Hannah Rogers took the loss for Florida, dropping to 26-5 on the year.

    Alabama opened the scoring in the second inning when sophomore Kaila Hunt lined a solo shot over the wall in left. The Tide plated two more in the frame when Conley singled up the middle to score pinch-runner Danae Hays and senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia.

    After Hunt hit her 17th home run on the season, senior Amanda Locke would not be outdone as she smashed her 17th the very next inning. The home run was a two-run shot over the wall in left to move the Tide lead to 5-0.

    Traina then walked and advanced to second on a dropped fly ball off the bat of Hunt. After Reilly-Boccia hit a sacrifice bunt to move the runners, Lunceford hit a single up the middle to score two more runs and increase the lead to 7-0. Kendall Dawson followed that up with a single, and Conley hit a sacrifice fly to score Lunceford and push the lead to 8-0.

    After Florida pushed across a run in the fifth inning, Alabama ended the game in the bottom of the sixth inning. Senior Jennifer Fenton advanced to third on a sacrifice fly after reaching on a fielder’s choice and later scored on an error after a hard hit ball by Hunt raced by Coyle to end the game.

    The two teams will close the series on Sunday in the rubber match with first pitch slated for 2 p.m. The series finale will air on ESPNU.

    Georgia Splits Doubleheader with Arkansas

    ATHENS, Ga. - The No. 11 University of Georgia softball team split a doubleheader with Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, as the Bulldogs (39-14, 16-11) took game one 3-2 and fell to the Razorbacks (27-25, 7-20) 2-1 in the day’s finale.

    In the twin bill, junior Christine Olney led the team with three hits on the day for a .500 batting average. Senior Ashley Pauly followed batting at .400 with one RBI, while junior Tess Sito had two runs and two hits.

    Game One – Georgia 3, Arkansas 2
    Sito provided the game-winning hit in the first of Saturday’s doubleheader with a two-out, RBI-single to center that scored freshman Niaja Griffin to take the 3-2 win. Griffin led the inning off with an infield single, stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch.

    Erin Arevalo picked up her 21st win of the season to move to 21-6 on the year. In seven innings in the circle, the senior allowed just two runs on three hits while striking out six. Arkansas’ Kimmy Beasley (10-8) fell in the loss after the Bulldogs grabbed three runs and five hits off of the Razorback.

    The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, as they sent six batters to the plate. Sito led off the game with a three-base error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Pauly. Freshman Paige Wilson’s single brought senior Kristyn Sandberg to the plate where she was hit by a pitch to put runners at first and second with one out. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position with one away. With two outs, Wilson crossed the plate on a wild pitch that gave the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.

    Arkansas cut the lead to one in the top of the fourth. Clarissa Navarro hit a one-out single and moved to third on a wild pitch and a groundout. With two away, Navarro scored on a wild pitch that made it a 2-1 game.

    The score remained at 2-1 until Navarro belted a leadoff home run over the scoreboard in the top of the sixth that tied the game at two.

    Game Two - Arkansas 2, Georgia 1

    Despite outhitting Arkansas 8-4, Georgia was unable to get baserunners home and fell 2-1 in the final game.

    Sophomore Morgan Montemayor (9-7) took the loss after giving up four hits with five strikeouts and a walk in seven innings of work. Arkansas’ Hope McLemore earned her first win of the season after the Bulldogs nabbed one unearned run on seven hits and striking out two. Beasley took her first save of the season, as she gave up one hit in the final 1.2 innings in the circle.

    Wilson provided an RBI-single up the middle to put Georgia ahead 1-0 in the bottom fifth. Sito scored the run after reaching first on a single and then moving to third on a stolen base and an Arkansas throwing error trying to catch her stealing second.

    Arkansas then sealed the win after Devon Wallace put a two-run home run over the center field wall in the top of the sixth.

    Georgia and Arkansas will play the final game of the regular season Sunday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to arrive at Jack Turner Stadium early, as seniors Brittney Hubbard, Ashley Razey, Ashley Pauly, Kristyn Sandberg and Erin Arevalo will be honored prior to the first pitch.