TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The No. 4 ranked Alabama softball team evened the series with an 11-3 victory over Mississippi State, Saturday afternoon in front of a Rhoads Stadium record crowd of 4,002. With the win the Crimson Tide improves to 39-7 overall and 11-6 in Southeastern Conference play.
Alabama banged out 11 hits and used a seven-run fifth inning to close out Mississippi State (29-15, 7-10 SEC). The top of the order paced the Tide at the plate as senior Kayla Braud, freshman Haylie McCleney and junior Kaila Hunt tallied two hits apiece.
Sophomore pitcher Leslie Jury (14-3) earned the win, allowing three runs – no earned on just two hits with three strikes outs in five innings.
After Mississippi State scored three in the first inning, Alabama chipped away, scoring a run in each of the first two innings. Braud scored on an error in the first and then on her senior day, Courtney Conley ripped a solo shot over the wall in center to pull the Tide to within one.
UA then took its first lead of the series when it plated two runs in the fourth. Junior Jackie Traina smacked a double to right-center that scored Hunt all the way from first and then sophomore Jadyn Spencer drove in freshman pinch-runner Kallie Case on a single to right.
Alabama extended its lead in the fifth inning when Hunt connected on her 12th home run of the season, this time a three-run shot to give the Tide a 7-3 lead. The Tide put three more on the board, drawing three bases loaded walks, opening the lead to 10-3. McCleney ended the game with a single up the middle.
The two teams will wrap up the series on Sunday at 1 p.m. The series finale will be televised by SportSouth.
No. 3/4 Softball Sweeps Doubleheader Against Longwood Saturday
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida pitching duo of junior Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) and sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) combined for 21 strikeouts on the day and junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) went 5-for-7 with a double, triple, two homers and five RBI as the No. 3/4 Florida softball squad swept Longwood in a Saturday doubleheader with 5-1 and 9-5 victories at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Rogers (7.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K) fanned a season-high 11 batters in game one of the twin bill to improve to 24-3, while Haeger (7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 10 K) struck with a season-high10 Ks in the nightcap to boost her season record to 12-2 in the circle. Tofft batted .714 on the day (5-for-7), including a 2-for-3 performance in game one, followed by a 3-for-4 display in game two with a double, triple, homer and four RBI for the Orange and Blue en route to a 9-5 win to keep UF an undefeated 13-0 against Longwood all-time.
The Gators (44-5, 14-4 SEC) dropped five bombs in the doubleheader against the Lancers (33-13, 13-5 BIG SOUTH), with two each from Tofft and sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) – one in each game – while Haeger connected in game two. Tofft, Haeger and freshman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) all had doubles in the double dip, as Tofft (5), Haeger (3), Little (2) and Stewart (3) all had multiple hit performances on the day to contribute to UF’s 16.
After the clash between the two programs was pushed back four hours due to rain in the Gainesville area, UF jumped out the gates in game one with a two-run first frame to set up a 5-1 win. Florida used a Haeger RBI single up the middle and a Schwarz RBI single through the left side – which counted as her sixth consecutive hit dating back to the Kentucky finale – for the 2-0 lead after the initial stanza.
Rogers struck with two Ks each in the first, second and third stanzas to keep the Lancers off the board, but an Emily Murphy infield single off Rogers’ glove in the fourth plated Longwood’s lone run of the contest. Rogers finished the fourth inning with a strikeout and sat the side down in the fifth with three straight swinging Ks before UF added three runs on two hits in the sixth for some insurance and the 5-1 eventual final.
Tofft first slapped a leadoff sky high homer to the scoreboard in left center to take the Gators up 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth, before Schwarz walked and stole second to set up a Little two-run jack for the 5-1 lead.
Six Gators found the hits column in game one, as UF put up seven in the contest to Longwood’s five. Lancer starter Libby Morris (5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1K) shouldered the game one loss to move to 14-6 on the year and Murphy paced Longwood at the plate with a 2-for-3 day in the first of the two tilts.
Haeger earned the start for the Orange and Blue in the nightcap, while lefty hurler Brooke Short earned the start for the Lancers in game two. UF scattered one run each in the first and second, two in the third and rallied for a five-run, three-hit fourth stanza for nine runs in all, while Longwood had a two-run third inning before a three-run seventh-inning rally.
Tofft first struck with a RBI double in the bottom of the initial stanza to plate Haeger, who reached on an errant throw by the LU shortstop, for the 1-0 lead. The Gators steadily added to their lead, using a Little leadoff solo shot in the second for a 2-0 advantage after Haeger retired three of seven batters through two innings via strikeout.
Longwood made things interesting with a two-run third inning to knot the score 2-2, capitalizing on a Gator fielding error for one run before a Megan Baltzell sacrifice fly plated the Lancers’ second run of the game.
A Tofft two-run blast to right field allowed the Gators to regain the 4-2 lead following the third, and a five-run fourth all but sealed the deal for the Orange and Blue. A Stewart one-out RBI double in the bottom of the fourth plated junior Ensley Gammel (Bakersfield, Calif.), who walked and moved to second on a sac bunt. Next, Stewart came around to score after being bunted to third and crossing the dish on an Ashley Cornell illegal pitch for the 6-2 advantage
Next up, Haeger ripped a solo bomb to left for the 7-2 lead before senior Kelsey Horton (Valrico, Fla.) walked to set up a Tofft two-run triple that plated sophomore Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.), pinch running for Horton, and Tofft herself after a miscue on the relay in from right field.
Florida enjoyed a 9-2 advantage through the fifth and sixth innings before the Lancers started a late rally in the seventh, leading to a Baltzell three-run home run – her nation-leading 23rd – for a 9-5 differential. Haeger buckled down, though, catching Murphy looking for the final out of the game and her season-best 10th K.
For Haeger, the10 strikeouts were the most since fanning 11 in an outing April 14, 2012, against Auburn. Short (3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) was charged the loss for Longwood in the circle to move to 17-6 on the season.
Lexi Davis Leads Auburn Softball To 7-1 Win Over South Carolina
Auburn, Ala. – Lexi Davis allowed one run on three hits while eight of nine Auburn batters reached base at least once as the Tigers cruised to a 7-1 victory over South Carolina in softball Saturday afternoon in front of 1,603 fans at Jane B. Moore Field. The 1,603 fans was the largest of the season and the seventh-largest in the program’s history.
Auburn improved to 28-19 overall and 7-13 in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina fell to 24-20 overall and 3-14 in the SEC. The Tigers and Gamecocks conclude the series Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I’m really proud of the job Lexi Davis did today,” Auburn head coach Tina Deese said. “She did a good job mixing her pitches and was working ahead a lot of the at-bats. The really didn’t get a lot of good swings against her. Offensively, it seemed like everyone was contributing today all the way through the lineup. We’ve got to take this and carry it forward into tomorrow.”
Davis improved to 8-8 with the complete-game victory. Davis allowed one run, earned, on three hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Davis retired the first 13 South Carolina hitters of the game, getting nine ground ball outs in the span.
Audrey Broyles started and took the loss to fall to 7-8. Broyles allowed five runs, three earned, on five hits with two walks and no strikeouts in one and two-thirds innings.
The Tigers jumped on top in the bottom of the first inning. Morgan Estell led off with a single to center and was followed by Tiffany Howard who reached on a bunt single. Emily Carosone followed with a ground ball that Dana Hathorn booted at second base, which allowed Carosone to reach and Estell to score giving Auburn a 1-0 lead.
With runners at second and first, Broyles dropped a short pop-up off the bat of Caitlin Schultze for an error to load the bases with two outs. Kelsey Bogaards picked up an RBI the hard way when she was hit by a pitch to force Howard home and push the Tigers’ lead to 2-0.
Auburn broke the game open in the bottom of the second. Brooke Lathan gave the Tigers a 3-0 lead with a one-out, bases-loaded single that plated Estell (walk). Broyles was able to pick up the second out when Caitlin Jordan hit into a fielder’s choice which forced Howard out at home. With two outs and the bases loaded, Schultze hit a sharp single up the middle to score Carosone and Lathan to give the Tigers a 5-0 lead.
Estell gave Auburn a 6-0 lead with an RBI single in the bottom of third that scored Branndi Melero, who reached on a one-out double. After an infield single by Howard put runners on the corners, Carosone lofted a sacrifice fly to center that plated Estell to make it a 7-0 game.
After retiring the first 13 batters of the game, Davis gave up a one-out double to Chelsea Hawkins in the top of the fifth. Davis, however, rebounded to retire the next two South Carolina batters to end the inning.
The Gamecocks broke up the shutout bid in the top of the sixth. Codee Yeske singled with one out and was followed by a single from Samie Garcia. A wild pitch moved the runners to third and second. Alaynie Page brought Yeske home with a ground out to make it a 7-1 game. Davis would hold the Gamecocks to one run, though, as she forced a ground from Hathorn to end the inning.
Davis closed out the Gamecocks in the top of the seventh, retiring the side in order to seal the 7-1 victory.
No. 11 LSU Softball Crushes No. 12 Missouri, 8-0
BATON ROUGE – The No. 11 LSU softball team bounced back in a big way and secured an 8-0 five-inning victory over No. 12 Missouri to even the three-game series Saturday in-front of a raucous 2,291 fans during the program’s second-annual “Strikeout Ovarian Cancer” teal game at Tiger Park.
LSU (37-10, 12-5 SEC) wore teal jerseys in support of Ovarian Cancer awareness. Before the game, the program recognized survivors of the disease on the field during a special ceremony. The 2,291 fans was the third-largest crowd in program history.
“It was an unbelievable night for this program,” head coach Beth Torina said. “When the gates opened an hour and half before the game, fans were pouring in to make sure they had their seats on the berm. They had team with the person’s name on their shirts with the survivors’ names they were there for. It was a super cool event. It is something that is close to my heart with my mom being an Ovarian Cancer survivor. Add the “Geaux Teal” walk to it earlier this morning, it was an unbelievable day. We raised almost 17,000 dollars for cancer awareness and education in the Baton Rouge community. It was a fantastic day for the program.”
Ashley Czechner was effective and efficient en route to a two-hit shutout. The junior right-hander fired in 11-of-17 first pitch strikes and tallied three strikeouts against one walk to improve to 9-0 for the season. It marked the first time that Missouri (25-7, 10-6 SEC) was shutout on the season, a streak of 54 games that dated back to April 13, 2012.
LSU’s offense posted an eight-hit attack and was opportunistic by taking advantage of five Missouri errors. LSU was fueled by Kellsi Kloss’ 2-for-2 effort with two RBIs, while Rikki Alcaraz turned in a 2-for-3 performance and added a RBI.
The victory enabled LSU to maintain sole possession of first place in the SEC Western Division race after Alabama secured an 11-3 victory earlier in the day.
“Ashley was really good and really solid with all of her pitches,” Torina said. “She looked like she had it in control during the entire game. She threw a lot of strikes and worked ahead. I really enjoyed watching her pitch this game.”
LSU raced out to a 4-0 edge during the first inning. Jacee Blades reached base on an infield single deep in the hole at shortstop. She moved to second base on a fielding error by the Missouri second baseman. Allison Falcon smacked a single, and Blades raced home with the game’s first run after a throwing error by the Missouri centerfielder.
Sandra Simmons was hit-by-a-pitch to fill the bases. On the first pitch of the sequence, Kloss ripped a two-run single through the right side to extend LSU’s lead to 3-0. Kloss stole second base, and Simmons crossed the plate with LSU’s fourth run courtesy of Missouri’s third error of the frame, a throwing error by the catcher.
“I have been struggling a little bit at the plate for the past couple of weeks,” Kloss said. “I told myself to forget everything that happened before and just have fun. I saw the ball really well today. I told myself to look for one pitch, don’t get out of your element and just stay within yourself.
LSU added three more runs in the third inning. Bianka Bell laced a leadoff single to right centerfield, stole second base and scored after a dropped fly ball by the Missouri centerfielder to make it 5-0.
Kloss belted another single to place runners on the corners, and Simmons scampered home with LSU’s sixth run after a Missouri starting pitcher Nicole Hudson uncorked a wild pitch. An Alcaraz single through the middle put runners back on the corners. LSU executed a double steal with Alcaraz and Kloss to push the margin to 7-0.
LSU closed the game out with another run during the fifth inning. Simmons picked up a leadoff single to centerfield and advanced to third base after a wild pitch and passed ball, respectively. Three batters later, Alcaraz scored the final run on a bunt down the third base line for the winning margin of 8-0.
Czechner retired eight of her final nine batters to secure her third shutout of the season. Missouri’s best opportunity to score came in the third inning after putting the first two runners on-base. Czechner notched back-to-back strikeouts followed by a fly ball to escape the threat.
“I just really wanted to go right at them,” Czechner said. “I didn’t want to get behind in the count. I wanted to throw a first-pitch strike as often as I could. I know when I get behind, I get in a lot of trouble. That was my plan pretty much. I wanted to stay ahead of them and keep them off balanced as much as I could.”
“I had so much fun catching Ashley today,” Kloss said. “It was awesome to see her establish strikes right away. I felt like they didn’t really know what to do. It was like they were so shocked at the first-pitch strike. They were flustered after that. It was fun to see Ashley thrive off of that. I just had so much fun watching her do so well. She held them to two hits and no runs.”