The Aggies host Lamar in a midweek doubleheader Tuesday at 5 p.m. before jumping back into conference action at home against LSU this weekend. Saturday’s game will be aired on ESPN, and Sunday’s contest is set to be broadcast on FSN. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 4 ranked Alabama softball team closed out the series in a big way, downing No. 7 Missouri, 14-6, Sunday afternoon from Rhoads Stadium. With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 35-6 overall and 10-5 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama tagged All-American Chelsea Thomas (14-3) for all 14 runs – 11 earned on 11 hits, taking advantage of eight walks.
Junior Molly Fichtner batted 3-for-3 with two runs and four RBI while senior Kayla Braud and freshman Haylie McCleney added two hits apiece. Junior Jackie Traina (17-3) allowed six runs – five earned while striking out five.
After Missouri took the early lead in the top of the first, Alabama answered in the bottom half with four runs. Traina got the Tide on the board as her grounder to deep short plated Braud from first. Fichtner then opened the lead to 4-1 with her first home run on the season – a three-run shot to left that scored junior Kaila Hunt and Traina.
A one out triple by senior Keima Davis sparked another four-run frame for the Tide as UA expanded its lead to 8-2 in the second inning. After the triple the Tide loaded the bases and got a two-run single from Hunt and then scored another on an error before Fichtner came through with another RBI, a single through the left side.
Alabama made it 10-2 in the third when McCleney drove in a pair on a single up the middle. Missouri followed with a four-run fourth inning, cutting the lead to 10-6. Alabama had a single run in the fifth before opening up the lead in the sixth.
The Tide closed out the Tigers in the sixth with three runs to earn the run-rule victory. The Tide scored one run on an error and then after a Davis sac-fly to center, McCleney walked with the bases loaded to end the contest.
Alabama will remain at home as it will host two midweek games next week. The Tide will welcome Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, April 9, and then play UAB on Wednesday, April 10. Both games are slated for 6 p.m., start times.
No. 20 Kentucky Wins Sixth Straight SEC Game
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess threw a complete game in the circle, allowing just three runs to get her seventh win of the season, while at the dish, Cumbess went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBI, leading the No. 20 University of Kentucky softball team to a 4-3 win and a series sweep over South Carolina on Sunday at Carolina Softball Stadium.
The win for Kentucky (27-10, 8-4 Southeastern Conference) was its sixth straight in SEC action after sweeping Mississippi State two weekends ago in Lexington. The six-game conference winning streak ties a school record. The 2011 team also won six straight in league action, earning consecutive sweeps over Mississippi State and Florida.
This is the fifth consecutive year that UK has claimed the series over South Carolina dating back to the 2009 season. South Carolina still leads the all-time series against Kentucky 35-21, including an 18-11 mark in games played in Columbia, S.C. The Wildcats are 12-6 against the Gamecocks under Lawson, including a 7-2 mark in Columbia. UK has played 56 games against USC all-time, marking the second-longest series in program history. The longest series is 57 all-time games against Georgia.
After the series, UK will return to Lexington to face Marshall on Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET in a rescheduled game from an earlier rainout before a doubleheader at Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday. UK has a big weekend planned on April 12-14 vs. Florida as it will officially open the newly constructed UK Softball Complex. The weekend will feature numerous promotions to introduce UK fans to the new facility, including a grand opening ceremony on Saturday. Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for more information on the weekend's events. Admission to all home games is free of charge.
Cumbess had a strong outing for Kentucky in the circle, going the distance to move her record to 7-3 this season. The native of Normal, Ill., gave up three runs – all earned – on seven hits with four strikeouts. Cumbess now has a 2.78 ERA this season, striking out 60 in 73 innings pitched. At the plate, Cumbess had a multi-hit game with a RBI single and a home run. The slugging pitcher is now hitting .348 on the year.
True freshman pitcher Nikki Sagermann also had two hits in the game, going 2-for-3 with a walk to keep up her team-best batting average. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner went 1-for-4 with an RBI, while juniors Ginny Carroll and Emily Gaines also earned singles. True freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel went 1-for-1 with a bunt single, increasing her season-long hitting streak to five games. Freshman Christian Stokes had the game-winning RBI in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly.
South Carolina (19-17, 1-11 SEC) started senior pitcher Audrey Broyles, who went three innings allowing two runs on four hits, while Julie Sarratt threw the final four innings allowing two runs on four hits with one strikeout. Dana Hathorn went 2-for-2 at the plate with three RBI, including a two-run home run.
The Gamecocks scored first in the game with two runs. The rally started with a leadoff double by Samie Garcia to leftfield, moving to third on a groundout. That set the stage for Hathorn, who blasted a two-run home run over the wall in left-centerfield. Cumbess got a flyout and a lineout to end the inning.
The Wildcats got on the board in the third inning. After a flyout to start the inning, Samuel got the rally started with a bunt single, moving to second on a stolen base and to third on a groundout. Stokes then walked to put runners at the corners for Joiner, who singled up the middle on the first pitch of the at-bat to cut the USC lead to 2-1.
USC got the run back in the bottom of the third on the third RBI of the game from Hathorn. Cumbess got a strikeout to start the frame before walking Garcia, who stole second and advanced to third on a groundout. That brought up Hathorn, who singled to right-centerfield to score Garcia and give USC a 3-1 lead.
Cumbess started a rally for Kentucky in the top of the fourth inning, launching a leadoff homer to leftfield to cut the South Carolina lead to 3-2. Sagermann followed with a single forcing USC to make a pitching change to Sarratt. Carroll greeted Sarratt with a single to put runners on first and second before Krystal Smith popped up for the first out. Pinch hitter Gaines then singled up the middle to load the bases before Sarratt got a strikeout and groundout to end the rally and keep USC on top.
Kentucky tied the game in the fifth inning after Joiner reached on a throwing error to start the inning. Sarah Frazer pinch ran for Joiner, moving to third on a sacrifice bunt by senior Alice O’Brien and later scoring on an RBI single by Cumbess to tie the game 3-3.
The Wildcats took the lead in the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly from Stokes. Smith started the inning by drawing a walk, advancing to second when Samuel laid down a bunt and advanced to first when the first baseman dropped the ball. Steed then moved both runners into scoring position with a bunt, setting the stage for Stokes who hit a deep sacrifice fly to centerfield to give UK a 4-3 lead.
South Carolina left two runners on base in the seventh inning after a double by Garcia to start the frame. Alaynie Page then sacrificed Garcia to third before Hathorn got hit by a pitch to put runners on the corners with one out. Cumbess got a pop up to short and a foul out to first to seal the win.
Kentucky will play host to the SEC Tournament this season for the first time in school history. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will be May 8-11 in Lexington. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU. Ticket information is available at www.UKathletics.com/secsoftball.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Vols Complete Sweep of Dawgs in Athens
ATHENS, Ga. -Raven Chavanne hit a three-run homer and Ellen Renfroe struck out six over six strong innings to lead No. 5 Tennessee to a 6-1 win over Georgia on Sunday and a series sweep. The win marked Tennessee's 600th win under the direction of Ralph and Karen Weekly.
Tennessee (34-6, 9-3 SEC) enjoyed a strong start and controlled the game from start to finish to earn its 11th win in a row. UT scored three in the second, two in the fourth and one in the sixth. Georgia (27-13, 6-6 SEC) scored its only run in the third off a solo home run.
Chavanne finished 3-for-5 with the three-run blast, two runs scored and one stolen base. Madison Shipman had a two-RBI single and drew two walks. Melissa Brown went 2-for-4 with one RBI.
Ellen Renfroe (11-1) struck out six and allowed just one run over six solid innings to earn the win. Ivy Renfroe threw a scoreless seventh and had one strikeout.
Chelsea Wilkinson (3-2) took the loss after allowing three earned runs over the first three innings. Geri Ann Glasco allowed three earned runs over two relief frames. Morgan Montemayor tossed two scoreless innings in relief.
UT took control of the game in the second inning. Hannah Akamine hit a one-out single up the middle and Lexi Overstreet with a single through the right side. Chavanne stepped up to the plate and hammered the first pitch she saw from Wilkinson over the fence in right field to give the Lady Vols a 3-0 edge.
Georgia responded in the bottom of the third. With two outs, Anna Swafford took a 1-1 pitch from Ellen Renfroe and sent it over the wall in straightaway center field for a solo home run.
Tennessee answered in the top of the fourth. Glasco entered to pitch to start the inning and Kat Dotson and Chavanne notched back-to-back bunt singles. Two batters later, Madison Shipman connected for a one-out single to left field to bring in both runners and push UT's lead to 5-1.
In the top of the sixth, the Lady Vols added one more run. With two runners on and one out, Brown knocked an RBI single to right field to plate Lauren Gibson.
With two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the sixth, Haley Tobler made a great diving play to catch a fly ball in right field and end the UGA scoring threat.
Tennessee will next host Tennessee Tech on Wednesday at 6 p.m. The Lady Vols resume SEC play next weekend when they host Auburn from April 12-14.
Ole Miss Holds Off Auburn
Auburn, Ala. – The Ole Miss Rebels won an 11-9 slugfest over the Auburn softball team Sunday afternoon to prevent a series sweep by the Tigers.
The game saw the Tigers overcome deficits of four and two runs while Ole Miss overcame a deficit of three runs before claiming the win. The teams combined to score nine runs with two outs, five for Auburn and four for Ole Miss.
Auburn dropped to 25-15 overall and 6-9 in the Southeastern Conference. Ole Miss improved to 20-23 overall and 2-13 in the SEC. Auburn returns to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. when it hosts Southern Miss at Jane B. Moore Field.
“I was encouraged by the fight I saw in some of our players today,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “Unfortunately we didn’t pitch well enough to win. This was one of those games where no lead was safe but they found a way to get the outs when it counted. Hopefully we will grow from this. We have to get ourselves collected and get ready for a tough week.”
Lexi Davis took the loss in relief to fall to 7-6. Davis allowed seven runs, five earned, on seven hits with three walks and six strikeouts in four and one-third innings. Marcy Harper started and allowed four runs, all earned, on seven hits with no walks and two strikeouts in two and one-third innings.
Carly Hummel earned the win in relief to improve to 9-13. Hummel was the fourth Ole Miss pitcher and went two innings allowing just one hit with two walks and no strikeouts.
The Rebels broke through in the top of the third inning. Brittany Broome singled with one out and then stole second base. Allison Brown followed with a single to right that plated Broome for a 1-0 lead. Erinn Jayjohn followed with a hard single through the left side to put runners at second and first. Madi Osias then made it a 4-0 game with a three-run homer over the wall in right. It was Osias’ second home run of the season. The homer chased Harper and brought Davis in to pitch for Auburn.
The Tigers responded in the bottom of the third. Kristyn Richards reached on an error and took third on a two-out single by Emily Carosone. Carosone took second on the relay throw. Brooke Lathan took four pitches out of the strike zone to load the bases. McKenzie Kilpatrick then laced a 2-2 pitch back up the middle, scoring Richards and Carosone to cut the deficit to 4-2. Caitlin Jordan was hit by a pitch to load the bases again.
Stephens was then plunked by a pitch to force home Lathan and cut the deficit to 4-3. A wild pitch to Davis went to the backstop and allowed Kilpatrick to score ahead of the tag to tie the game 4-4.
Ole Miss quickly regained the lead on a two-out, two-run home run from Brown in the top of the fourth. It was Brown’s fourth home run of the season and it came with RT Cantillo (walk) aboard to give Ole Miss a 6-4 edge.
Consecutive singles by Morgan Estell, Tiffany Howard and Carosone loaded the bases with no outs for the Tigers in the bottom of the fourth. With one out, Kilpatrick laced a single off the wall in left that scored Estell and Howard to tie the game 6-6.
The Tigers took their first lead of the day in the bottom of the fifth when Estell launched a two-run home run over the wall in right. It came on a 3-1 pitch and was Estell’s second home run of the season. Richards, who singled to lead off, scored on the homer to make it an 8-6 game. With two outs, Lathan gave the Tigers a 9-6 lead with a solo home run to center. It was Lathan’s fourth home run of the season.
Ole Miss rallied, however. With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of sixth, Jayjohn swung and missed for strike three but Kilpatrick allowed the ball to go to the backstop. Jayjohn beat the throw to first, while Marina Parra (single) and Broome (single) scored on the play. The next batter, Osias singled through the left side to load the bases. Haley Culley followed with a single to left that plated Brown (walk) to tie the game at 9-9.
In the top of the seventh, Brown laced a 2-2 pitch into right field to score Natalie Martinez (walk) and Cantillo (error) to give the Rebels an 11-9 lead. Brown’s single came with two outs in the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Hummel got Estell to fly out to left for the first out of the inning. Howard took a 1-2 pitch back up the middle for a single to bring the tying run to the plate. Carosone followed with a fly ball out to left for the second out. Hummel was able to end the game when Lathan fouled out to Osias down the first base line.
Mississippi State Wins in Gainesville
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Eleven years of disappointment and heartbreak vs. top-three teams came to a screeching halt for the Mississippi State softball program Sunday afternoon at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, as the Bulldogs (24-14, 3-9 SEC) exploded for a five-run second inning en route to a 6-5 victory against No. 3 Florida. The win was the first for MSU against a team ranked in the top three since a 7-1 victory against No. 1 Arizona on Feb. 9, 2002. State also snapped a 17-game losing streak against Florida, which dated back to April 2007.
“Our players are gutsy and resilient,” Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “We came back from a heartbreaking loss Saturday and took game three, and that is part of changing a culture.”
The Bully Bombers pounded out 11 base hits, the most for MSU in conference play this year and the most allowed in 2013 by the No. 3 Gators in a seven-inning game. Junior Heidi Shape (2-for-3, two runs), redshirt junior Erin Nesbit (2-for-3, RBI), redshirt sophomore Briana Bell (2-for-4, RBI, run) and freshman Loryn Nichols (2-for-3, RBI, run) all had multiple hits. Junior Logan Foulks (1-for-4, RBI), senior Jessica Cooley (1-for-3, 2 RBI) and junior Jessica Offutt (1-for-3, run) also collected base knocks for MSU, while junior Sam Lenahan scored a run.
“Coach (Alan) Reach and Coach (Beth) Mullins really sat down Saturday night and studied a lot of film,” Stuedeman said. “Credit both of those coaches. Each player was willing to stick to the plan and execute it.”
Right-hander Alison Owen improved to 13-6 in 2013 for the Bulldogs, striking out five and allowing just one hit in 5.0 innings of relief.
After totaling six hits in the first two games of the series, State jumped out of the gates with five runs off seven hits in the top of the second. Bell led off the top of the frame by denting the towering scoreboard in left for her seventh homer of the season. Shape followed up Bell’s long ball with her second triple of her junior campaign.
Following the first out of the inning, Nesbit pulled a liner off Florida third baseman Stephanie Tofft’s glove at third for a single, driving in Shape.
With Nesbit on first, Offutt singled to right field and Nichols dropped a perfect bunt in front of the UF catcher. The bases were juiced for Cooley, who with two outs hit a worm burner up the middle that drove in a pair of Bulldogs to double their lead. Foulks then doubled down the left-field line to extend the lead to 5-0 in favor of the Maroon and White.
The Gators came within one run of tying MSU in the bottom of the second courtesy of a grand slam by catcher Taylore Fuller. After the second inning, the two teams evened out by scoring one run each to give the game its final score of 6-5.
Starkville’s Team heads back home for a critical three-game conference clash starting Friday against in-state rival Ole Miss. Game one will be broadcast live on ESPNU at 7 p.m. CT. First pitch on Saturday and Sunday is at 1 p.m. CT. Admission is free to all events at the MSU Softball Stadium, but if you cannot attend, free live audio as well as video (except Friday) will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
For live in-game updates of MSU's rivalry series in Starkville, 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.
LSU Rallies to Down Arkansas
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 13 LSU softball team erased a four-run deficit and registered a 5-4 comeback victory over Arkansas to claim the rubber game of a three-game series Sunday at Bogle Park.
LSU (33-8, 9-3 SEC) has won all four of its SEC series on the season. With the victory, the Tigers maintained sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division standings and have 13 of its last 14 meetings over Arkansas (26-15, 4-8 SEC) going back to the 2009 season.
“Our players fought extremely hard for every run, and I thought every inch of that game was a battle,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Arkansas is a really quality opponent, and credit them for swinging the bats well the entire weekend. There’s no doubt that we had to fight the entire seven innings for that hard-fought win.”
A.J. Andrews led the way with a 3-for-4 performance from the top of the lineup. She scored two runs which included the game-winner on a wild pitch and drove home the equalizer with a RBI triple during the sixth inning. Bianka Bell, Jacee Blades and Allison Falcon also secured RBIs for the Tigers.
Rachele Fico went the distance to earn her 20th win of the season. She worked around a four-run second inning and six walks. The senior right-hander tallied six strikeouts and joined former All-American Britni Sneed along with Ashley Lewis as the only three pitchers in program history to notch a trio of 20-win seasons.
“Rachele did a fantastic job of staying tough with her mentality,” Torina said. “I thought she fought really hard. It was a battle for her the entire way. Arkansas was very prepared with their offensive approach. Credit to Rachele for being able to stay tough and fight through the early adversity with her teammates.”
Down 4-0, LSU scratched out three runs in the fifth inning. Lauren Houston ignited the rally as she reached base on an Arkansas error. Simone Heyward drew a walk, while Andrews and Blades tacked on infield singles to put the Tigers on the scoreboard. All three players were down in the count 0-2 during their at-bats.
Bell ripped a RBI single to left field, while Falcon followed a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield to draw LSU within 4-3.
“It’s easy to get down on yourself when you’re losing 4-0, but our team did a really good job of staying pumped up,” Andrews said. “We decided that we were going to keep fighting until the very end. Nothing that happened was going to keep us down. As slappers Simone, Jacee and I just want to put the ball on the ground and run. Whether the count is 0-2 or 3-0, we’re looking for the right pitch to make something happen.”
The Tigers used some two-out magic to complete the comeback during the sixth inning. Once again, Heyward battled back from a 0-2 count to collect a free pass. Andrews cranked a RBI triple to the right field fence to even the tally at 4-4. On the next pitch, Andrews scampered home courtesy of a wild pitch to vault LSU ahead by a 5-4 margin.
“Simone was our spark plug, and did a really good job of battling back from a couple of 0-2 counts to draw some keys walks,” Torina said. “Simone, A.J. and Jacee always seem to be the ones that are sparking the rallies and create a lot of runs for us. A.J. is a tough out for sure and does a great job of using all of her weapons at the right time.”
“I decided to go up there and swing away on my last at-bat,” Andrews said. “She threw the first pitch inside to me to get a strike. I felt in my gut that she was going to do that again. I prepared for that, and thanks goodness I was able to hit the ball hard for a triple. I was pumped after I got the triple and was ready to score. The excitement was overflowing when I slid across the plate safely.”
The Tigers made a pair of stellar defensive plays to lock up the 5-4 triumph. Tammy Wray turned an inning-ending double play on a line drive with the help of a Sandra Simmons stretch to end the sixth inning followed by a diving Simmons stop on a sharp ground ball to open the seventh inning.
“Sandra is such a tough, hard-nosed and gutsy player,” Torina said. “She’s going to fight for her spot on the bag, and she made a great diving stop to start the seventh inning. I thought that play changed the entire complexion of that inning by keeping the leadoff runner off base.”
Arkansas platted all four of its runs in the second inning. Sierra Bronkey belted a two-run homer after
Clarisa Navarro was issued a leadoff walk. The Razorbacks pushed their lead to 3-0 after Jennifer Rambo singled, stole second base and scored on Claire Clark’s RBI single.
The Arkansas four-run frame was completed after a bang-bang play on a fielder’s choice play. Bell was ruled by the umpire that she missed the second base bag. The ball squirted away after contact which enabled Clark to cross the plate.
LSU wraps up its eight-game road swing and meets No. 9 Texas A&M for the first time as SEC rivals. The three-game weekend set begins Friday at 7 p.m. followed by a 4 p.m. start on Saturday and a 12:30 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. The Saturday and Sunday contests will be televised by ESPN and FSN, respectively.
All three games of the series will be broadcasted by the LSU Sports Radio Network on Country Legends 104.9 FM in Baton Rouge and can be accessed by Geaux Zone subscribers at www.LSUsports.net/live.
Every game of LSU softball this season will have live stats available at LSUsports.net/livestats. Fans can also follow every pitch via live in-game updates at the program's social media outlets @lsusoftball on Twitter and www.Facebook.com/lsusoftball.