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    SEC Softball Today: March 10

    Softball RESULTS
    South Carolina 4, Penn State 3
    Utah Valley 3, Arkansas 1
    Georgia 15, North Carolina A&T 0
    Kentucky 5, Ole Miss 2
    Alabama 7, Tennessee 1 
    Florida 2, Auburn 0 
    LSU 9, Mississippi State 2

     

    South Carolina Beats Penn State 4-3 in Eight Innings 

    CLEARWATER, Fla. – Getting the game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Kristen Struett, South Carolina (15-5) won a 4-3 contest from Penn State (6-12) in eight innings on Sunday afternoon at the Eddie C. Moore Complex Field 1 to close out the USF Under Armour Showcase. 
     
    With runners at second and third, Struett lifted a fly ball to left center, deep enough to let freshman left fielder Alaynie Page score from third to give the Gamecocks the 4-3 lead. Page started the inning on second thanks to the international tiebreak rule and moved to third on junior second baseman Dana Hathorn’s bunt hit that stopped on the chalk of the first-base line.
     
    South Carolina took the 3-0 lead in the first, with Struett driving in the first run with a single up the middle, plating senior shortstop Samie Garcia after she started the contest with a double. Struett and junior Ashlyn Masters scored on junior right fielder Chelsea Hawkins’ RBI single thru the left side.
     
    Penn State cut the lead to one in the third. With the bases loaded, Karlie Habitz hit a liner to right that the Gamecocks caught, but it allowed Alyssa Renwick to score from third. Taylor Abeyta followed with an RBI single, plating Macy Jones from second. The Nittany Lions tied it at 3-3 in the fifth on Cassidy Bell’s solo homer, her 10th of the year.
     
    Struett led the Gamecocks with her 2-for-3 day with a run scored and two RBI. Hathorn also went 2-foe-3 with a stolen base. Hawkins drove in two, while Garcia had a double and ranked as one of five Gamecocks to record a single hit. Lexi Knief and Renwick both had two hits for Penn State.
     
    Gamecock freshman pitcher Katie Marks (5-2) got the win in relief, giving up two hits and an intentional walk while fanning four in three innings of relief. Jones (5-5) took the loss for Penn State, tossing seven innings out of the bullpen, giving up one unearned run on six hits and a walk. She struck out two. Gamecock redshirt senior Audrey Broyles started for the Gamecocks, giving up three earned runs on five hits and two walks in five innings. She fanned three.

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    Razorbacks fall to Wolverines in series finale
     
    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas softball team fell to the Utah Valley University Wolverines, 3-1, on Sunday at Bogle Park.
     
    Arkansas (18-7) was led on in the circle by senior, Chelsea Cohen and sophomore, Kimmy Beasley. They combined to throw seven innings, giving up three runs on eight hits, while striking out nine. Arkansas registered seven hits in the game, but all seven were singles.
     
    “There are a lot of positives from this game,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “Chelsea and Kimmy certainly threw well enough to win. They both did well and our defense played well. The disappointing thing is that we left 12 runners on base today.”
     
    Cohen began the game in quick fashion as she worked through the Wolverine lineup in the first. She notched two strikeouts in the opening frame as Morgan Summers went down swinging  and Amanda Robinson chased an off-speed pitch.
     
    The second inning did not go as well for Cohen as Kylee Brinkerhoff led off the inning with a single to the left side of the infield. Dynasty Lauvai then sent a 1-2 fastball over the leftfield fence on the next at bat. Lauvai’s third homerun of the year put Arkansas in a 2-0 deficit.
     
    Arkansas tried to answer in the bottom half of the inning as Jennifer Rambo and Claire Clark started the bottom of the inning with back-to-back singles. After two straight strikeouts, Devon Wallace walked to load the bases for Sierra Bronkey. She worked a 3-2 count but eventually grounded out to second. The Razorbacks had stranded five runners through two innings.
     
    Cohen continued to power through the fourth as she worked a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two. These were Cohen’s fifth and sixth strikeouts of the game. 
     
    The Razorbacks started their fourth consecutive inning with a runner on base when Jayme Gee singled to rightfield to start the fourth. However, Arkansas was unable to score her as Clarisa Navarro grounded out to first with two outs and two runners on. UVU starter Tiffany Mills had worked four scoreless innings, striking out five.
     
    The senior captain, Cohen, ran into trouble in the sixth as she allowed a one-out walk to Robinson. Brinkerhoff followed the walk with an infield single, ending Cohen’s day in the circle. She worked 5.1 innings, giving up three runs on six hits and striking out six. Beasley came in and struck out Cassie Herrera on three pitches. Krystin Jachim then blooped a single into leftfield, scoring Robinson. This gave the Wolverines a 3-0 lead.
     
    Beasley worked the seventh and retired three of the four batters she faced, striking out one. The sophomore went 1.2 innings and gave up two hits, while striking out three.
     
    Navarro started the bottom of the seventh inning by roping a single to rightfield. Nicole Schroeder followed the hit with a walk and this put two runners on for pinch-hitting Lauren Montgomery with zero outs. Montgomery ticked a ball to the second baseman, she was thrown out but the runners advanced a base. Rambo was the next batter and she skied a ball to centerfield. This scored Navarro from third, making the score 3-1. Andrea Sullivan was then inserted into the game to pinch hit. She struck out swinging to end the game and gave Mills her fifth win of the season. The Wolverine starter went seven innings, giving up one run on seven hits. She struck out six and walked six.

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    Bulldogs Complete Weekend Sweep With 15-0 Shutout
     
    ROCK HILL, S.C. – The No. 24 University of Georgia softball team completed the weekend sweep of the tournament field at the Winthrop/adidas Invitational with a 15-0, five-inning win over the North Carolina A&T Aggies on Sunday, March 10 in Rock Hill, S.C. The win moved the Bulldogs to 17-7 on the season.
     
    Georgia showed its power during the tournament, hitting at a staggering .450 clip as a team and slugged an impressive .907. The Bulldogs won all but one of their games by way of a run rule, outscoring their opponents 66-7 along the way. The Georgia pitchers held opponents to a paltry .119 average, allowing just 12 hits in 29 innings and combined for a 1.45 ERA.
     
    For the sixth straight game, the Bulldogs scored in the first inning. Anna Swafford continued to swing a hot bat and showed off her speed as she beat the throw from short for an infield single. Paige Wilson then doubled her home to give Georgia a 1-0 lead. N.C. A&T issued three-straight walks to score Wilson from third and allow the Bulldogs to take a 2-0 lead. A Christine Olney single and a sacrifice fly by Katie Browne scored the final two runs of the inning, allowing Georgia to extend its lead to 4-0.
     
    Georgia added a run in the top of the second inning when Swafford hit her third leadoff home run of the weekend that put the Bulldogs up 5-0.
     
    The offense kept its foot on the gas in the top of the third, picking up four runs on two hits and two walks. Tess Sito led off with a single and eventually came around to score when Swafford drew a bases loaded walk to make it a 6-0 game. A groundout to second made it a 7-0 game before Geri Ann Glasco delivered a two-run single  up the middle that scored Swafford and Katie Sowers and gave the Bulldogs an 9-0 lead.
     
    Georgia sealed the win after a six-run fifth inning. With one out, Niaja Griffin and Swafford drew back-to-back walks that put runners on for Wilson, who singled to score Griffin and extended Georgia’s lead to 10-0. A sacrifice fly by Glasco drove in the 11th run of the game. With two runners on, Iosefa hit her fifth home run the weekend and helped the Bulldogs to a 13-0 lead. Kaylee Puailoa followed with a solo shot of her own to make it a 14-0 game. A pair of singles chased the N.C. A&T pitcher from the circle and put runners on for Sowers, who recorded her first career hit for the Bulldogs with a RBI-single to left that resulted in a 15-0 Georgia lead.
     
    Morgan Montemayor shined, facing one batter over the minimum on her way to a complete-game no hitter. Montemayor did not allow a pitch out of the infield and struck out five to keep her weekend ERA to 0.00

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    Stokes’ Two RBI Leads No. 15 Softball to Series Win vs. Ole Miss
     
    LEXINGTON, Ky. – True freshman second baseman Christian Stokes collected her second multi-hit game of the weekend, including two runs batted in, while junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess and freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley combined to hold Ole Miss to just two runs on four hits as the No. 15 University of Kentucky softball team clinched the series against the Rebels with a 5-2 win on Sunday. The game was played at the brand new UK Softball Complex in Lexington, Ky.
     
    The series-win for Kentucky (18-4, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) is the sixth consecutive for UK over Ole Miss (17-11, 1-2 SEC). UK won the series against the Rebels in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012, while the Rebels took the series in 2006. Ole Miss still leads the all-time series 27-18, including a 12-10 mark in Lexington, while UK is 10-4 against the Rebels under sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson. 
     
    The 2-1 conference start marks the second time in the last three seasons that UK has won its opening series of conference play. The Wildcats took two of three from Tennessee to start league play in 2011 before dropping its first three SEC games last season to Alabama, the eventual 2012 national champions. UK currently sits tied for first atop the SEC Eastern Division standings with No. 4/4 Florida, who took two out of three at Auburn, and No. 8/10 Tennessee, who took two of three from No. 1/2 Alabama in Knoxville, Tenn. 
     
    The UK offense led the way for the second straight game, scoring five runs on 10 hits, including multi-hit games from Stokes, Cumbess and freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann. Stokes was the star with her fourth multi-RBI game of the season, finishing 2-for-2 with two singles and two RBI. Cumbess went 2-for-4 in the game with a double, while Sagermann was 2-for-2 with two singles to rightfield. 
     
    Four other Wildcats collected hits in the game. Freshman leadoff hitter Maisie Steed went 1-for-2 with an RBI, while senior infielder Kara Dill collected a hit and a run scored. Outfielders Alice O’Brien and Sylver Samuel also earned hits in the game, while Samuel scored a run.
     
    Stokes had a great weekend at the dish for Kentucky, hitting .833 (5-for-6) with her first collegiate homer and three RBI. Stokes also scored two runs and walked three times. Steed blasted her fourth homer of the year in the series, while Cumbess went 3-for-9 with a double and junior outfielder Emily Gaines was 2-for-6 with two RBI. 
     
    Cumbess still leads the Wildcats overall in hitting this season with a .368 (25-for-68) average behind five doubles, two homers and 18 RBI. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner also has 18 RBI on the year, including a team-high tying four homers. Sagermann is hitting .361 (13-for-36), while Dill still leads the team in hits with 27 and runs scored with 23.
     
    Nunley was again the winner for UK in the circle as the rookie hurler earned a decision in all three games over the weekend. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., suffered the loss Friday night in a 3-1 battle before getting the wins Saturday and Sunday in relief efforts. Nunley is now 12-1 on the year with a 2.02 earned-run average in 83.1 innings pitched. 
     
    Cumbess started the game for the second consecutive day, going 2.2 innings, allowing one hit and one earned run with four strikeouts. Nunley came on in the third inning with a runner at second and a 3-0 count on Ole Miss first baseman Londen Ladner. After a first-pitch ball put Ladner at first, Nunley got a strikeout to end the frame. The freshman threw the final 4.1 innings of the game, allowing three hits and one unearned run with three strikeouts.  For the weekend, Nunley was 2-1 with a 1.37 ERA, striking out 12 in 15.1 innings pitched. 
     
    Ole Miss started Carly Hummel in the circle after the junior shut down the Wildcat offense in a winning effort Friday night. UK would find its swing against Hummel on Sunday, posting nine hits and five runs against the hurler. Freshman Madi Osias came on in relief, throwing the final 1.2 innings of the game, allowing only one hit. 
     
    Offensively, the Rebels got another strong performance from Ladner, who went 2-for-3 with a walk. Second basemen Melina Preciado went 1-for-3 with a run scored, while Haley Culley also collected a hit. 
     
    The Rebels got a run in the top of the second inning to take an early lead. Ladner started the inning with a double to the wall in leftfield and was pinch ran for by Natalie Martinez, who moved to third on an illegal pitch call and later scored on an illegal pitch call. Cumbess then got two strikeouts and a pop up to end the frame.
     
    UK took the lead in the bottom of the second on two hits, three walks and one batter hit by a pitch. The inning started with a single by Cumbess to rightfield, who was pinch ran for by Darington Richardson. Richardson advanced to second on the sacrifice bunt by Sagermann and after Emily Jolly got hit by a pitch and Stokes walked, Steed drew an RBI walk to score Richardson and tie the game 1-1. Jolly scored the second run of the inning on a passed ball, giving UK the 2-1 lead. 
     
    The Wildcats would score a run in each of the next three innings to increase their lead to 5-1. Stokes started her stellar game in the third inning with an infield RBI single. After a strikeout to start the inning, Cumbess hammered a double to rightfield, moving to third on the soft fly to rightfield by Sagermann. Gaines then struck out before Jolly walked to load the bases. Stokes then hit a sharp grounder deep into the hold between second and third base, allowing Cumbess to score and give UK a 3-1 lead. 
     
    Dill got the rally started in the bottom of the fourth inning, moving to second on a wild pitch. After O’Brien’s groundout moved Dill to third base, Joiner put down a perfect squeeze bunt to score Dill and increase UK’s lead to 4-1. 
     
    UK’s final run off the game came in the fifth inning when Stokes picked up her second RBI of the day. Samuel started the inning with a single to centerfield, moving to second on a stolen base. After Jolly struck out, Stokes hit a hard-hit ball just past the Ole Miss shortstop, scoring Samuel and giving UK the 5-1 advantage. 
     
    Ole Miss closed the gap to 5-2 in the top of the sixth after loading the bases on two singles and a fielding error. With one out and the bases loaded, Cantillo hit a soft grounder to the left of the pitching circle that Dill fielded cleanly but couldn’t throw home for the out due to Steed running into her, allowing Preciado to score on the play. 
     
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    Alabama Bounces Back with 7-1 Win at Tennessee
     
    KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The top-ranked Alabama softball team bounced back in a big way as it downed No. 8 Tennessee, 7-1, Sunday afternoon from Lee Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 23-3 on the season and 1-2 in Southeastern Conference play.
     
    The Alabama bats came alive as the Tide banged out 12 hits on the afternoon. Freshman Haylie McCleney paced UA at the plate with a 3-for-4 day. The rookie added two runs and a walk. Sophomore Danielle Richard added two hits and two RBI while freshman Andrea Hawkins had her third multi-hit game of the series, going 2-for-4 with a RBI. Hawkins finished 6-for-10 in the series. 
     
    Jackie Traina (11-2) returned to her All-American form, allowing one run on two hits while striking out four. The right-hander did not allow a hit until one out in the sixth inning. 
     
    Alabama took its first lead of the series as it plated one run in the first inning. Richard ripped a double off the wall in left-center to score McCleney from second. McCleney started the inning with her first hit of league play, a sharp single to left, before moving over to second on a Traina single.
     
    A five-run third inning broke the game open for the Tide. A bases loaded walk to Traina started the scoring and it continued when Richard hit a sac-fly to center to plate McCleney. Freshman Leona Lafaele then drove in two on a hit up the middle, before Hawkins ripped a double off the wall to end the scoring in the frame, plating sophomore Danae Hays. 
     
    Alabama added one more in the fifth inning to increase its lead to 7-0 when pinch-hitter Lauren Sewell ripped a single through the left side to score pinch-runner Kallie Case from second. 

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    No. 4 Softball Takes Series at Auburn Sunday With 2-0 Victory
     
    AUBURN, Ala. – Florida used a sophomore Taylore Fuller (Trenton, Fla.) solo shot and a sophomore Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) sac fly to take the series at Auburn with a 2-0 victory Sunday in the final game of the three-game set at Jane B. Moore Field. The Gators improved to 25-2 (2-1 SEC) on the season, while Auburn moved to 18-7 (1-2 SEC).
     
    Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) tossed a three-hit shutout to improve to 13-2 overall this season in the circle for the Gators. Rogers fanned two, walked three and let her defense go to work to close out the game.
     
    Fuller accounted for UF’s lone hit of the game, putting on a 1-for-2 performance with a walk, run and RBI from her home run, while also putting on a defensive display behind the plate, throwing out an AU runner on the base paths.
     
    Florida drew four free passes Sunday, led by sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.), who was on base three times with a walk and two hit-by-pitches. Little led the Gators at the plate through the past week of play with a .667 batting clip (6-for-9) with a double, homer, four RBI, two walks, three hit-by-pitches, a .786 on-base mark, a 1.111 slugging percentage and a stolen base to help aid UF’s 3-1 effort this past week.
     
    Both the Gators and Tigers went three up, three down in the first stanza and Florida left Little on third in the top of the second after her first hit-by-pitch of the game. Auburn’s Emily Carosone sent the first hit of the game up the middle in the home half of the second, but with two down for the Tigers, Fuller connected with shortstop Katie Medina (Downey, Calif.) to catch Carosone swiping second to retire the side.
     
    After Fuller gunned down Carosone to end the second frame, the Gator catcher went yard on the first pitch of the third inning to knock her first career bomb donning a Gator uniform and take UF up, 1-0.
     
    Florida scratched its second run of the game across home on a sophomore Jessica Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.) sac fly in the top of the fourth after sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) drew a leadoff walk and Little was hit by her 11th pitch of the season – second of the game, third of series – allowing senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) to bunt both into scoring position, her second sac bunt of the day. Haeger then crossed home on the Damico sac fly to left for the 2-0 Gator lead. 
     
    Haeger and Horton both batted .333 on the week behind Little, Haeger going 4-for-12 with a homer and four RBI and Horton 3-for-9 with a double and RBI to contribute to UF’s efforts Wednesday through Sunday.
     
    Florida maintained the two-run advantage through the fifth, sixth and seventh, turning a double play in the fifth to strand an Auburn runner on, while averting a Tiger threat in the bottom of the sixth with two runners in scoring position when Rogers handled the pressure – and a bouncer back to the circle – to keep the AU off the board.
     
    Rogers returned with two groundouts and a foul out to sit the side down in the bottom of the seventh and seal the win for the Orange and Blue.

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    Longballs Lift No. 12 Softball to Series Win at Mississippi State 
     
    STARKVILLE, Miss. – The No. 12 LSU softball team matched a season’s best and connected for a quartet of home runs en route to a 9-2 victory over Mississippi State during the rubber game of a three-game series Sunday at the MSU Softball Stadium. 
     
    With the win, the Tigers (19-5, 2-1 SEC) moved into sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division after one weekend of conference play. LSU also blasted four home runs in a 9-1 victory at Ole Miss back on February 13.  
     
    “We were a completely different team from yesterday,” head coach Beth Torina said. “We spent a lot of time thinking about our offensive approach, and Coach Dobson really zoned them in. The players did a really good job of executing the plan, and hopefully our offense understands now where they need to be. This can be a really good lesson learned for future SEC games.” 
     
    LSU struck early and posted a three spot on the scoreboard in the first inning. A.J. Andrews and Jacee Blades collected consecutive singles to start the frame. After an Allison Falcon sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position, Bianka Bell crushed a towering three-run home run over the left field scoreboard to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. 
     
    “Today was definitely a team win, we knew we had to make things happen at the top of our lineup early in the game,” Bell said. “We had a better plan with our at-bats after seeing their pitcher for 14 innings on Friday. I wanted to take away the inside pitch from her, drive it hard somewhere and that’s what I did in the first inning.” 
     
    The Tigers added three more runs during the fourth inning as Sandra Simmons and Tammy Wray connected for back-to-back dingers to push the advantage to 6-0. It marked the 16th time in program history that LSU has gone for back-to-back homers, and the first time since the Nicholls State game on March 7, 2012 when Ashley Langoni and Dylan Supak accomplished the feat. 
     
    LSU made it 8-0 on Allison Falcon’s fourth roundtripper of the season, a two-run bomb to left centerfield, in the fifth inning. Andrews got on in-front of Falcon and picked up her team-leading ninth multi-hit performance of the season. 
     
    MSU’s Allison Owen exited the contest and surrendered eight runs. She tallied six strikeouts against zero walks and fell to 9-3 on the season. Entering the game, Owen had only been touched up for seven total runs in 78.0 previous innings of work.  
     
    “I’m proud of how our group played all day,” Torina said. “I was happy that we were able to score and continue to score. This game was important to the players. They wanted to make sure that we won the series and wanted to have an answer after getting beat the day before.”
     
    Mississippi State responded with two runs of their own in the home half of the frame. The Bulldogs made the most of an infield single, a walk and a LSU error. Heidi Shape also provided a sacrifice fly to bring the tally back to 8-2. 
    LSU tacked on an insurance run during the seventh inning. Simone Heyward dropped a bunt single, stole second and crossed the plate on Jacee Blades RBI single for the final margin of 9-2. 
     
    Rachele Fico went the distance in the circle for the Tigers. She scattered six hits and allowed two runs, one earned, to claim her 12th victory of the season. The senior right-hander registered eight Ks versus three walks. She is now eight strikeouts away from becoming the fourth pitcher in program history to reach the 700-mark for her career. 
     
    “Rachele was fantastic for us all weekend,” Torina said. “I enjoy watching her pitch and happy to see her take what she worked throughout the week in the bullpen to the field.”