|Auburn 9, Alabama State 6
|Mississippi State 8, Memphis 1
|Florida 8, Alabama 4
Auburn Rallies to Beat ASU
Montgomery, Ala. - The Auburn softball team used a sixth-run rally in the sixth inning to overcome an early deficit and seven errors to defeat the Alabama State Hornets 9-6 Wednesday afternoon.
Auburn improved to 17-5 with the win and will next host the No. 4 Florida Gators in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. Alabama State fell to 1-15 with the loss.
"I'm proud of the young leadership on the team that stood up and didn't let this get away from us," Auburn head coach Tina Deese said.
Marcy Harper earned the win in relief to improve to 7-2. Harper allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. Hilary Mavromat started and gave up four runs, two earned, on four hits in two-thirds of an inning.
Bailey Patt took the loss in relief to fall to 0-6. Patt allowed five runs, none earned, on five hits with one walk and one strikeout. Melissa Christmann started but did not earn a decision. Christmann allowed four runs, all earned, on six hits with four walks and one strikeout in five innings of work.
Alabama State swarmed the Tigers, pushing four runs across in the bottom of the first inning. Brehanna Rodrigues singled to open the frame and moved into scoring position when catcher McKenzie Kilpatrick threw wildly to first on an attempted pickoff. With one out, Alabama State reeled off three consecutive singles. Meagan Dixon and Stephanie Hernandez each singled, with Hernandez's loading the bases. Aleesa Yanez gave ASU a 1-0 lead with a single up the middle, scoring Rodrigues.
Kimberly Ross followed with a fielder's choice, which forced Yanez out at second, but pushed Dixon home for a 2-0 ASU lead. An error gave the Hornets two more runs. Bailey Patt lofted a fly ball to centerfield that Morgan Estell was under, caught and dropped for an error. Hernandez and Ross scored on the play, giving Alabama State a 4-0 lead.
The Tigers cut into the deficit in the top of the second inning. Caitlin Schultze drew a one-out walk and was lifted for pinch-runner Kristyn Richards. A single by Caitlin Jordan put runners on second and first. Richards then took third on a fielder's choice off the bat of Kilpatrick which forced Jordan out at second. A wild pitch to Baylee Stephens brought Richards home to make it a 4-1 game, but ASU would end the rally with a swinging strikeout of Kelsey Bogaards.
Alabama State took advantage of two Auburn errors in the bottom of the second to plate a run. Rodriques reached on a throwing error by Bogaards at shortstop. Tamara Williams followed with a sac bunt that Jordan fielded, but threw wildly to first for Auburn's fifth error of the game. Rodrigues, running on the play, scored easily to make it 5-1.
Brooke Lathan picked up an RBI for the Tigers in the top of the third inning. With Estell (HBP) at third and Branndi Melero (walk) at second, Lathan hit a slow ground out to second that pushed Estell home to make it a 5-2 game. The Hornets, however, would hold the Tigers to one run in the inning.
The Tigers continued to chip away at the deficit in the top of the fourth inning. Consecutive singles by Jordan and Kilpatrick put runners at second and first. After Tiffany Howard was put in to run for Jordan, Baylee Stephens put down a sac bunt to the runners to third and second. Bogaards followed with a ground ball to Rodrigues at shortstop, who fired home in time to get Howard out. Bogaards broke for second on the play and on the throw down, Kilpatrick raced home, sliding in just ahead of the tag to make it a 5-3 game.
Alabama State increased its lead to 6-3 in the bottom of the fourth. Rodrigues led off with a single and took second on a sac bunt. Dixon then hit a fly ball to shallow center that Estell allowed to hit off the heel of her glove for an error. A single to right by Hernandez plated Rodrigues to give ASU a three-run cushion.
The Tigers rallied in the top of the sixth. After allowing a single to Kilpatrick and a walk to Stephens to open the inning, Christmann was lifted for Patt, who loaded the bases when she walked the first batter she faced, Bogaards. Estell then laced a single to center that scored Kilpatrick to make it a 6-4 game, but Stephens was caught off the bag after advancing to third for the first out of the inning.
With runners at second and first, Patt picked up the second out on a called third strike on Melero. The Tigers loaded the bases when Emily Carosone was hit by a pitch. Lathan then hit what appeared to be an inning-ending ground ball to Brittnei Price at second. Price made a backhanded flip that sailed wide of second base, allowing Bogaards to score to make it a 6-5 game.
Schultze continued the inning with a single to right that plated Estell and Carosone to give the Tigers a 7-6 lead. On the play, right fielder Kimberly Ross misplayed the ball which allowed Lathan to score from first and extend Auburn's lead to 8-6. Jordan followed with a single to left that plated Schultze to give the Tigers a 9-6 lead and cap the rally.
Harper took the momentum from the top of the sixth to strikeout the side in the bottom half of the sixth and set the Hornets down in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the victory.
Mississippi State Tames Memphis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State softball drove in four runs on five hits with two outs in an 8-1 non-conference triumph against Memphis Wednesday night at the MSU Softball Stadium. The victory improved the Bulldogs to 15-4 in 2013, tying the 2008 squad for the best start through 19 games since the Bulldogs began 17-1 in 2006. Memphis dropped to 7-13 on the season.
"We've done a good job of starting fast and winning the late innings," Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. "We were so glad to be back in Starkville in front of our home fans. It was a nice, solid victory tonight."
Seven of the nine Bully Bomber starters had hits on offense, with juniors Erin Nesbit (1-for-2, two runs) and Jessica Offutt (1-for-3) both driving in two. Leadoff hitter Briana Bell (1-for-3, run) and cleanup hitter Sam Lenahan (1-for-3, run) each had RBI base knocks as well, while four more Bulldogs also tapped the dish.
"We always talk about getting barrels," Offutt said. "I think we were just working the process. We were constantly having quality at-bats and buying in."
Reigning SEC and National Pitcher of the Week Alison Owen of MSU was victorious in her ninth-consecutive decision, moving to 9-1 after 4.0 innings of shutout ball in her starting assignment. The righty struck out five and walked none to improve her national-best 93-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Junior southpaw Kylie Vry picked up her first save of the season, pitching the final 3.0 innings with one hit and one unearned run allowed.
For the 17th time in 19 games this year, MSU scored first, this time in the second inning. With one down, Nesbit reached first on a fielder's choice and sprinted to second on a passed ball. Sophomore Julia Echols joined her after drawing a base on balls on a full count. Freshman Loryn Nichols then loaded the bases with her first double-digit pitch at-bat of the game. With two gone and Offutt behind on an 0-2 count, the nine-hole hitter drilled a pitch to left-center field, scoring both Nesbit and Echols for an early 2-0 Mississippi State lead.
State tacked on five more runs to put the game away in the bottom of the third, which started when junior Heidi Shape was hit by a pitch. Shape moved to second on a single by Foulks, but was forced out at third on a ground ball to the left side by Lenahan. With two on and one out, senior Jessica Cooley took first on a 3-2 walk. That allowed Nesbit on a full count of her own to drive in Foulks and Lenahan on a hard-hit ball to shallow left-center field.
Following MSU's second out of the inning, Nichols had another 10-plus pitch at-bat to load the bases with her second walk of the evening. Memphis appeared to be out of the inning when Offutt grounded to second, but the Tigers' first baseman could not scoop a ball thrown in the dirt. The error by Memphis' second baseman allowed both Cooley and Nesbit to score, increasing the lead to 6-0 in favor of the home team. The last run of the third frame came when Nichols strutted across home thanks to a double to deep left by Bell.
After Memphis scored for the first time in the top of the sixth, Stuedeman's squad finished the scoring with a Lenahan RBI double down the left-field line. The two-bagger scored Bell and gave the game its final score of 8-1
Starkville's Team now turns its attention to SEC play, which begins this Friday through Sunday as the Bulldogs battle No. 12 LSU at the Dawg Diamond. The Maroon and White play the Purple and Gold Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
For live in-game updates of MSU's SEC-opening series, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.
Gators Hand Alabama First Loss
Freshman Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) ripped a two-RBI double to deep left center in the top of the sixth to plate the game-winning runs for the Gator softball squad in an 8-4 victory over No. 1 Alabama Wednesday at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa. No. 4 Florida improved to 23-1 overall and 4-1 over top-25 opponents this season with the win. Alabama shouldered its first loss of the year to move to 22-1.
Fuller’s clutch hit put Florida ahead, 5-4, after the sixth and UF added three more runs for insurance in the top of the seventh to close out Wednesday’s back-and-forth battle with the Crimson Tide in the unique non-conference match-up. Florida used 10 hits on the evening, including nine in the sixth and seventh combined, to top defending national champion Alabama and the Gators were led by sophomore Lauren Haeger’s (Peoria, Ariz.) 2-for-3 performance. Sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.), senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) and junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) all went 2-for-4 in the four, five and six holes for the Orange and Blue.
Junior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) (11-1) tossed her 11th victory of the season after working the first five innings. Rogers fanned five, gave up just two earned runs on six hits before Haeger came on for Florida’s first save of the season, putting together two innings of hitless, scoreless relief – including four strikeouts.
After scoring just one run through the first four innings, the Gators used a one-run fifth inning and two huge three-run innings – and nine more hits – in the sixth and seventh to top the Crimson Tide.
Florida went to work quickly, as freshman Kelsey Stewart drew a leadoff walk to start the game and swiped second before sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) connected for an infield RBI single to plate UF’s first run of the contest in the top of the first.
In the back and forth battle, Alabama countered with a two-run third stanza after a scoreless second for both teams. The Tide capitalized on a UF wild pitch and used a Molly Fichtner bases-loaded walk to tie the contest, then go ahead of Florida, 2-1.
UF struck next in the top of the fifth after freshman Taylor Schwarz (Palm Beach, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk to start things off for the Orange and Blue. Following two straight outs for AU’s Jackie Traina in the circle, including a sac bunt and groundout, Stewart walked at the top of the lineup for runners on the corners for the Gators. An errant throw down to second on a Stewart stolen base allowed Schwarz to score from third, while Stewart took third on the play with the game knotted at 2-2.
Bama countered yet again in the bottom of the fifth to take a 4-2 lead after a two-run, three-hit stanza. A Kaila Hunt RBI double and a Danae Hays RBI single up the middle drove in the Tide’s two runs in the fifth frame before the Gators posted a three-run sixth inning to go ahead for good.
Three straight one-out hits for UF in the top of the sixth from Little, Horton and Tofft loaded the bags before a pop up for Schwarz put the second out on the board. With sophomore Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) at the plate, Little scampered home from third on a Traina wild pitch to make it a 4-3 ballgame, while Horton and Tofft moved to second and third on the play. Castro then walked to juice the bags again for Fuller’s first-pitch RBI-double that gave the Gators a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Florida added three extra insurance runs in the top of the seventh, one courtesy of a speedy Stewart that took second, third and home after an Alabama error on a sac bunt. Horton connected for a RBI double and Tofft added her second hit of the night to push UF’s eighth run across the dish.
Haeger closed it out in the bottom of the seventh with two strikeouts and a fly out to retire the Crimson Tide.
The Orange and Blue will now head to Auburn, Ala., to open 2013 Southeastern Conference play against the Auburn Tigers March 8-10 at Jane B. Moore Field. The Gators and Tigers will tilt at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday and 2 p.m. (ET) on both Saturday and Sunday in Auburn. Florida is 23-9 all-time on SEC opening day and 10-4 under head coach Tim Walton in league openers.
All Gator softball games this season will be live locally on WYGC-FM 105 (104.9) The Game, with audio streaming available on GatorZone.com. For all other broadcast and television information, visit the UF schedule page.
For live updates, box scores, stats, pictures and recaps throughout the season, be sure to visit UF on GatorZone, follow the Gators on Twitter and visit the team on Facebook for all the latest on Gator softball.