LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 3/4 Gator softball squad used three extra-base hits to open the series with SEC Eastern Division rival No. 18/19 Kentucky with a 7-4 victory at the UK Softball Complex Friday evening. The Orange and Blue improved to 40-4 on the season and chalked up their 13th SEC victory to improve to 13-3 in league play and 7-2 (.777) over top-25 competition this season, tops in the league.
Florida put up two runs quickly in the first, thanks to a junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) two-run double, while sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) struck with a three-run bomb in the fifth, followed by senior Kelsey Horton’s (Valrico, Fla.) two-run blast for insurance in the seventh.
Horton went 2-for-3 at the dish for the Gators, while Tofft and freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) were both 2-for-4 Friday, as six different Gator batters found the hits column in the series opener. Haeger’s three RBI paced the squad, while Horton and Stewart botch scored twice for Florida.
Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) worked her 16th complete game of the season to improve to a SEC-leading 23-3 in the circle for the Gators. The righty gave up just three earned runs on seven UK hits, walked five and fanned four through the seven-inning contest opposite Wildcat hurler Lauren Cumbess.
Cumbess (8-4) shouldered the loss in the circle for Kentucky (7.0 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), but accounted for two Wildcat hits and two of three RBI for the home team on the night offensively.
A Tofft two-run double plated Florida’s first two runs of the game in the top of the first, setting the tone for the Orange and Blue for the series-opening match-up. Stewart first led off with an infield bouncer before Horton drew a one-out walk to set up Tofft’s team-leading 13th double of the season. For the UF third baseman, Friday’s double marked her second straight game with a two-RBI two-bagger.
The Wildcats then countered with a run of their own in the bottom of the second on a Cumbess solo home run for a 2-1 ballgame.
After zeros on the board for both squads in the third and fourth frames, Haeger struck next with a three-run bomb, her team-leading 13th of the season and first since a March hot streak. The top of the Gator lineup set the table for the sophomore designated player, as Stewart led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle before freshman Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) beat out a bunt for a base hit to put runners on first and second for UF, no outs to set up Haeger’s bomb.
Haeger blasted a 2-2 Cumbess offering to left field to extend the Florida lead, 5-1, helping the Gators put up a three spot in the top of the frame, but a resilient Kentucky squad didn’t back down.
Cumbess battled for the Wildcats in the home half of the fifth, using a RBI double to right to narrow the Florida lead, 5-2, while Kentucky used an Ansley Smith RBI bloop single to shallow left and a Maisie Steed sacrifice fly to plate two runs in the bottom of the sixth, bringing UK within two runs, 5-4.
Horton handled business in the top of the seventh, using a two-run jack to left for the 7-4 Florida cushion heading to the bottom of the stanza. Rogers worked quickly, retiring the Wildcats in order in the home half of the frame for UF’s 13 SEC victory – her 23rd win in the circle this season.
Mizzou Run-Rules Arkansas
COLUMBIA, Mo. – No. 8 Mizzou softball powered to a five-inning, 9-0 shutout of Arkansas on Friday at University Field, using a two-run home run from sophomore 1B Kelsea Roth (Yorba Linda, Calif.) to secure the run-rule win in the bottom of the fifth. Junior OF Mackenzie Sykes (Blue Springs, Mo.) batted 3-for-3 in the game with her own solo home run in the bottom of the third. The offensive efforts helped senior pitcher Chelsea Thomas (Pleasantville, Iowa) tie the school record in wins with her 102nd career victory. She matched former Mizzou standout Teresa Wilson’s mark set from 1980-83.
The Tigers improved to 24-4 and 9-3 in Southeastern Conference action with the win, while the Razorbacks dropped to 26-16 (4-9 SEC) with the loss.
Thomas pitched 4.0 innings in the shortened game to improve to 15-3, striking out five batters while allowing just two hits. Arkansas pitcher Chelsea Cohen threw 4.2 innings in the loss (12-8), allowing nine runs and surrendering 14 hits. Mizzou’s 14 hits in the game were an SEC-best for the squad.
Four singles in the first inning helped the Tigers plate two runs, with senior 3B Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) and sophomore 3B Angela Randazzo (Poway, Calif.) scoring. Freshman 2B Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.), Randazzo, Roth and Sykes recorded the four base knocks.
Mizzou scored three more runs in the bottom of the third inning, with Sykes’ solo shot leading the way. Senior catcher Rachel Hay (Kansas City, Mo.) came through big in a pinch hitting situation, smacking a triple into right field to score redshirt freshman OF Taylor Gadbois (Maryville, Mo.), who was pinch running for redshirt freshman RF Carlie Rose (Nixa, Mo.). An RBI double to right center by Crane brought in the inning’s third run for a 5-0 lead.
The Tigers tagged the Razorbacks with two runs in both the fourth and fifth innings. Roth doubled to right center to bring in junior UTL Brianna Corwin (Kansas City, Mo.). Rose finished her 2-for-3 batting outing by singling in Sykes from third base for a 7-0 lead.
A Hudson single prefaced Roth’s game-ending shot down the left field line. Roth’s 11th home run of the season helped the Tigers record their 12th run-rule shortened win of the season.
Roth (3-for-4) and Sykes both set career highs in hits with three each. Sykes’ perfect performance was her second of the season.
Mizzou continues with Arkansas on Saturday, April 13, with a 2 p.m. start. The Sunday, April 14, series finale at 2 p.m. will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Fans are encouraged to check MUTigers.com and the softball team’s social media outlets, @MizzouSoftball and Facebook, for updates and information throughout the season.
Gamecocks Downs UGA Behind Sarratt's Complete Game
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind a complete-game performance from redshirt sophomore pitcher Julie Sarratt, South Carolina (22-17, 2-11 SEC) defeated Georgia (29-14, 6-7 SEC) 6-2 in front of 877 fans at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field on Friday night.
Sarratt (5-4) went 2-for-3 at the plate with a double and a run scored, while she also tossed a complete game in the win. She scattered 10 hits and two walks while fanning four, giving up two earned runs. She pitched her way out of trouble a number of times, forcing the Bulldogs to strand 12 runners in the contest.
The Gamecocks got on the board in the second thanks to a Georgia error. Sarratt led off the inning with a double, and her pinch runner, junior Codee Yeske, scored when the throw from center got away from the Bulldog defense on junior Chelsea Hawkins’ single. Hawkins moved to third on the errant throw and scored on junior Ashlyn Masters’ fielder’s choice, sliding in and jarring the ball loose on the tag attempt.
South Carolina made it 4-0 in the third. Freshman left fielder Alaynie Page led off the frame with a single, and junior second baseman Dana Hathorn got hit by a pitch for the 15th time this year, giving the Gamecocks two base runners. A fielder’s choice forced out Hathorn at second and put runners at the corners with one down. Another grounder moved junior centerfielder Kristen Struett into scoring position, setting up Hawkins’ two-RBI single to center that made it 4-0.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to 4-1 on Tess Sito’s leadoff homer in the fourth, but the Gamecocks tacked on two more runs in the fifth when senior shortstop Samie Garcia stroked a two-out, two-RBI single, scoring Sarratt and Masters. Sarratt singled to start the frame, and Masters followed with a one-out double.
Georgia made it 6-2 with back-to-back, two-out doubles by Anna Swafford and Paige Wilson in the sixth. That sixth and the third, when Sarratt had two of her strikeouts in a 1-2-3 frame, were the only innings the Bulldogs left less than two on base.
Hathorn reached base in all four plate appearances, going 2-for-2 and getting hit by a pitch twice. Hawkins went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored for the Gamecocks. Masters had a double, an RBI and a run scored, while Garcia posted two RBI.
Geri Ann Glasco (17-5) took the loss, giving up six earned runs on 10 hits and three walks while striking out three. Christine Olney and Niaja Griffin both had two hits for the Bulldogs.
It’s South Carolina’s first win over Georgia since 2007, and it also stands as the first win in SEC play at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
The two teams square off again on Saturday, with first pitch set for 4 p.m. EDT.
Tennessee Pitchers Strike Out 10 in Win Over Auburn
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Ellen Renfroe and Ivy Renfroe combined for 10 strikeouts and No. 3 Tennessee scored five runs in the first three innings and survived a late Auburn surge en route to a 5-3 win Friday night at Lee Stadium.
Tennessee (36-6, 10-3 SEC) scored one in the first, one in the second and three in the third and enjoyed a five-run lead into the sixth inning before Auburn (27-16, 6-10 SEC) responded with three runs.
Raven Chavanne went 2-for-3 with one RBI. Lauren Gibson, Melissa Brown and Rainey Gaffin each had one RBI. Cheyanne Tarango was 2-for-4. Kat Dotson scored two runs and had one stolen base.
Ellen Renfroe (12-1) fanned eight and gave up two earned runs over six frames to take the win. Ivy Renfroe earned her first save of the season after striking out two in the seventh.
Lexi Davis (7-7) struck out two and allowed five runs (two earned) over six innings and took the loss.
Tennessee jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning with two outs and Dotson on third when Davis threw an illegal pitch to bring Dotson home.
In the bottom of the second, UT added another run when Chavanne plated Gaffin from third base with a two-out bloop single to left field.
Ellen Renfroe benefited from a big double play to get to two outs. After Kristyn Richards drew a leadoff walk to put an Auburn run on, Tiffany Howard lined into a double play at short. Madison Shipman made the great play on the stab and then rifled a throw to first to get Richards out.
The Lady Vols grew their lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the third. With one on and no outs, Gibson clubbed an RBI double to center field. Three batters later, Melissa Brown hit an RBI single to left field to score Madison Shipman. Gaffin followed with an RBI single to right field in the next at-bat.
Auburn got on the board in the sixth inning when Morgan Estell scored on a throwing error from first to third following Emily Carosone's single to short. Brooke Lathan followed with a two-run homer to center field off a full count to bring AU to within 5-3.
After Caitlin Schultze led off the top of the seventh with a single to center field, Ivy Renfroe relieved Ellen Renfroe in the circle. She had a swinging strikeout and induced groundout to short to get to two outs, but the Tigers loaded the bases. Ivy Renfroe fanned Branndi Melero looking on a 2-2 pitch to end the game and earn the save.
Tennessee and Auburn will play the second game of the series on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The game will be televised on CSS with Melissa Lee as the play-by-play and Barbara Jordan as the analyst. UT will celebrate the first of two Senior Days before the game, honoring Melissa Brown, Kat Dotson, Lauren Gibson and Ivy Renfroe. There are still a limited number of tickets available for the game.
Garza's Grand Slam Lifts Aggies
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Junior Amber Garza hit her second grand slam of the season as the No. 10 Texas A&M softball team topped No. 13 LSU, 6-2, Friday in the Southeastern Conference series opener at the Aggie Softball Complex.
The Aggies lead the three-game series 1-0 and improve to 34-7 on the season and 6-6 in conference play with the win, while LSU falls to 33-9 overall and 9-4 in SEC action. The teams will play game two tomorrow at 4 p.m. on ESPN, following the annual Maroon & White football game.
After letting two Tigers on base in the top of the first, the Aggies came out swinging in the bottom of the inning to set the table for Garza’s big hit. Junior Cassie Tysarczyk started the offensive frenzy with a one-out single up the middle, and stole second before senior Mel Dumezich reached on a walk. With runners on first and second and two outs, junior Jenna Stark stepped up to the plate and hammered a pitch to the fence in left. The ball bounced at the top of the wall and landed inside the stadium for an RBI double that scored Tysarczyk for the 1-0 lead.
Freshman Cali Lanphear followed with a walk to load the bases before Garza stepped up and cranked a ball over the fence in right to push A&M out to a huge 5-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.
LSU continued to put runners on base, reaching third in both the second and third innings, but the Aggie defense wanted none of it and sent the Tigers back to their cage.
Stark hit her second double of the game in the bottom of the third, and Dumezich added a base hit. Stark was 2-for-3 on the night with an RBI and a run scored, while Dumezich was 1-for-1 with a run scored and two walks.
The Tigers pounced on their first run of the night in the top of the fifth on an RBI single, but the big play of the half-inning was junior Emily Albus’ assist from centerfield on a throw home for the first out of the frame.
Leading 5-1 in the bottom of the sixth, A&M struck again. Lanphear led off with a bunt single and was pushed to second when senior Meagan May was hit by a pitch. Junior Allison Garrett entered to run at first before a passed ball sent the pair into scoring position. With two outs, Albus singled to the first baseman, scoring Lanphear for the unearned run.
A leadoff solo home run in the top of the seventh was LSU’s only response as the game drew to a close with A&M up 6-2.
Dumezich (23-5) threw nine strikeouts and gave up just two earned runs on her way to a victory over No. 1 NPF draft pick Rachele Fico. Fico (20-6) fanned five aggies and allowed five earned runs on seven hits and four walks.
The top-15 Aggies and Tigers will rematch tomorrow in the Maroon Out game at 4 p.m. on ESPN. The first 150 fans through the gate will receive maroon t-shirts. To learn more about Texas A&M softball, log on to AggieAthletics.com and follow @AggieSoftball on Twitter.
Record Crowd Watches MSU Down Ole Miss
STARKVILLE, Miss. – In front of a record capacity crowd of 1,553, as well as millions watching at home on ESPNU, the Mississippi State softball team (25-14, 4-9 SEC) defeated arch-rival Ole Miss (21-24, 2-14.
SEC) by a score of 5-1 Friday night at the MSU Softball Stadium. The Bulldogs extended their winning streak against the Rebels to six games, while improving to 10-0 all-time against in-state teams in two seasons under Head Coach Vann Stuedeman.
“I am so proud we were able to put on a good show for this record crowd tonight,” said Stuedeman, who improved to 4-1 all-time in nationally-televised games.
State starter Alison Owen tossed a complete-game two-hitter against the visitors, improving to 14-6 on the season. The right-hander struck out seven, walked one and surrendered just one run. Ole Miss starter Carly Hummel fell to 10-14 after giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks.
Bulldog catcher Sam Lenahan finished 1-for-2 with two walks, but recorded the base hit when MSU needed it most. Trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the second following a solo home run by the Rebels’ Londen Ladner, the home team started cooking offensively with a single by redshirt sophomore shortstop Julia Echols. Following a walk by junior left fielder Jessica Offutt, freshmen center fielder Loryn Nichols advanced the base runners on a perfectly-executed sacrifice bunt. With two in scoring position and two gone, Lenahan found open grass in shallow right center with a clutch base knock, giving MSU a 2-1 lead it would not relinquish the remainder of the evening.
With chants of “Maroon” and “White” filling the air, Starkville’s Team added three runs thanks to a two-out rally in the fifth frame. Down to the last out in the inning, junior third baseman Logan Foulks crushed the first pitch of her at-bat over the wall in left for her team-leading 11th home run of the season. Redshirt sophomore designated player Briana Bell then reached on an infield single, and tapped the dish when junior second baseman Heidi Shape exploded through the zone with her second long ball of the season to conclude Friday’s scoring.
The Maroon and White will go for the series win Saturday at 1 p.m., with the first 100 fans receiving limited edition “Hail State”
sunglasses. “Greek Life Day” at the park concludes with a celebrity home run derby immediately following the game. The long-ball challenge will feature local celebs such as football All-American Johnthan Banks, MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin, Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman and more.
Both teams will try to strike out cancer Sunday in the series finale starting at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs will wear pink and the first 100 fans will receive pink Nerf softballs to raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer.
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.