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    Today In SEC Softball: May 4

    SATURday Softball RESULTS
    Kentucky 5, Alabama 0
    Florida 3, South Carolina 2
    Alabama 14, Kentucky 0
    South Carolina 2, Florida 1
    Mississippi State 6, Texas A&M 2
    Missouri 2, Tennessee 0
    Tennessee 10, Missouri 1
    Arkansas 8, Auburn 7


    Nunley Dominates, Stokes Provides Offense as UK Rolls Bama 5-0

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – University of Kentucky freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley tossed her 18th complete game of the season, throwing seven scoreless innings allowing four hits with five strikeouts, while fellow freshman Christian Stokes launched her fifth home run of the season in UK’s three-run second inning, lifting the 19th-ranked Wildcats to a 5-0 series-opening win over No. 7 Alabama on Saturday at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

    The series will continue with game two of the doubleheader at approximately 3 p.m. ET Saturday before concluding Sunday with a 2:30 p.m. ET first pitch. Live stats and live video (subscription required) will be available through the links provided below.

    The win for Kentucky (36-16, 11-10 Southeastern Conference) was its third all-time against the perennial national power. UK’s last win against Alabama was in 2004, while this is the first time UK has ever defeated the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

    The win marks UK’s eighth over a ranked foe this season and 39th all-time under sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson. The win is the 23rd for Lawson against a top-10 team during her tenure and the fourth this season.

    Nunley was fantastic in the circle for Kentucky, throwing all seven innings, allowing no runs on four hits with five strikeouts. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., is now 23-7 on the season with a 1.89 ERA, striking out 164 in 215.1 innings pitched. The win for Nunley was her third consecutive over a highly ranked foe after taking down No. 7 Louisville and No. 11 Missouri last week.

    Offensively, Kentucky was paced by Stokes, who went 2-for-3 with two RBI and her fifth home run of the season. Fellow freshman Sylver Samuel also had a multi-hit game, going 2-for-2, while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner went 1-for-4 with a two-RBI single. Senior Alice O’Brien had a single and scored a run in the game, while junior outfielder Ginny Carroll doubled.

    Kentucky scored first in the game, getting three runs on two hits in the top of the second inning. O’Brien started the rally with a bloop single to leftfield before freshman Nikki Sagermann laid down a bunt that the Alabama third baseman fielded and threw to second base too late to get the out. After a pop up for the first out, both runners advanced into scoring position on a passed ball before freshman Ansley Smith hit a sacrifice fly into centerfield to get UK on the board. The next pitch of the game was then hammered into left-centerfield by Stokes for her fifth home run of the season, giving UK the 3-0 lead.

    The Wildcats added two more runs in the fifth inning. After a leadoff walk to Smith to start the frame, Stokes singled to right-centerfield putting runners on the corners for Samuel, who bunted Stokes over to second base. Freshman Maisie Steed then walked to load the bases for Joiner, who singled into left-centerfield to score two and give Kentucky a 5-0 lead.

    Alabama (40-11, 12-10 SEC) leads the all-time series against Kentucky 38-3, including a 18-1 record in Tuscaloosa, Ala. UK’s first win against the Tide came in game one of a doubleheader in 2004. Alabama leads the series 2-19 in Lexington and 1-0 at neutral sites. Alabama swept Kentucky last season in Lexington. The two teams have met every year UK has had a team except 2011.

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    Softball Splits Doubleheader with Kentucky

    TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama softball team split its doubleheader with Kentucky, Saturday afternoon at Rhoads Stadium. The Wildcats won game one, 5-0, and then the Crimson Tide bounced back with a 14-0 victory in game two. After the twin-bill, Alabama moves to 41-11 overall and 13-10 in Southeastern Conference play.

    GAME TWO

    After dropping four games in a row for the first time since 2004 the Tide had seen enough, erupting for four runs before recording an out en route to a 10-run first inning and ultimately a 14-0 win.

    The first inning was highlighted by back-to-back home runs by junior Molly Fichtner and freshman Leona Lafaele and then four bases loaded walks.

    The Tide added four more in the second to increase the lead to 14-0. Braud hit a bases loaded RBI single and then Fichtner added another with a sac-fly to left. Lafaele brought home two, one on an error to end the scoring in the frame.

    Braud paced the Tide at the plate with a 3-for-4 effort, scoring three runs and driving in two. Fichtner scored twice and had four RBI while senior Keima Davis and junior Ryan Iamurri had two hits piece.

    Junior Jackie Traina (18-6) earned the win, allowing just two hits while striking out four in three innings. Senior Lauren Sewell allowed two hits in two scoreless innings of relief.

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    South Carolina Wins Second Game Over Florida

    COLUMBIA, S.C. – Senior catcher Shelby Gonzales blasted a two-run homer in her final game at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field, and freshman reliever Katie Marks shut the door on No. 2/3 Florida (49-7, 18-6 SEC) to lead South Carolina (31-22, 8-16 SEC) to a 2-1 win in game two on Saturday to keep the Gamecocks’ SEC Tournament hopes alive.

    In the fourth with two down, Gonzales drove the 0-1 pitch over the wall in left for her fifth homer of the year, also scoring junior designated player Ashlyn Masters after she led off the inning with a walk. That overtook the Gators’ run in the top of the inning that came without the aid of a hit. Briana Little and Katie Medina both drew walks with one down and advanced on a passed ball. After a strikeout, another pitch went wild, letting Little score the game’s first run.

    The Gamecocks had to escape a final threat from the Gators in the seventh. An error allowed pinch hitter Jessica Damico to reach, and Kelsey Stewart followed with a bunt single. A pop up to junior third baseman Codee Yeske stood as the first out and a grounder back to Marks marked the second but let both runners move into scoring position. The Gamecocks opted to intentionally walk Lauren Haeger to face senior Kelsey Horton. With a 3-2 count, Horton went around and didn’t check her swing on appeal, giving Marks her fourth strikeout of the day and the win in relief.

    Both teams had chances in the third but came up empty. The Gators loaded the bags, started by a bunt hit by Stewart and a walk drawn by Kirsti Merritt with one down and another walk to Haeger with two outs. But redshirt sophomore starter Julie Sarratt got a soft liner to short to end the frame. Sarratt allowed one unearned run in 3.1 innings of work.

    South Carolina had singles from Yeske and senior shortstop Samie Garcia to start the home half of the third. Yeske stole third when the Gators tried to throw behind her, and the Gamecocks attempted the first-and-third delayed steal on a strikeout at the plate. A close play at home went against the Gamecocks for the second out. Junior second baseman Dana Hathorn singled, putting runners at the corners again, but Gator starter Hannah Rogers got a liner to second to snuff out the threat.

    Marks (8-7) got the win in relief, fanning four in 3.2 innings. She gave up two hits and walked one intentionally. Rogers (28-5) took the loss, allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks. She struck out two.

    Hathorn ranked as the only Gamecock with two hits. Gonzales homered and sophomore centerfielder Kristen Struett doubled. Florida’s Stewart had two bunt singles and a walk, while Haeger walked twice, two of the seven the Gators received in the contest.

    South Carolina’s win snaps a 28-game losing streak to Florida that dated back to the 2003 SEC Tournament. It’s the first win over a top-two foe since May 19, 2003, when the Gamecocks forced an if-necessary game against No. 1 UCLA in the regionals at Beckham Field.

    The Gamecocks now await Sunday’s results in SEC play to see if they will qualify for the SEC Tournament, which begins on Wed., May 8 in Lexington, Ky.
     
    Game One Recap:

    Gamecocks Fall in Eight to No. 2/3 Florida, 3-2 A two-out blast by Kirsti Merritt in the first extra frame provided the difference

            
    COLUMBIA, S.C. – Two first-inning runs did not stand up for South Carolina (30-22, 7-16 SEC), as No. 2/3 Florida (49-6, 18-5 SEC) got an eighth-inning homer to take the first game of the doubleheader 3-2 on Saturday afternoon at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.

    With two down, Gator freshman Kirsti Merritt hit a 1-1 pitch out to right center, her fourth homer of the year to put the Gators on top for good. The Gamecocks tried to answer, getting a two-out double from senior catcher Shelby Gonzales. But Gator reliever Hannah Rogers got one last strikeout, her third of the contest, to end the game.

    In the first, the Gamecocks plated three runs after loading the bases with one down. A pitch hit freshman left fielder Alaynie Page, and singles from junior second baseman Dana Hathorn and sophomore centerfielder Kristen Struett followed. Junior designated player hit her team-leading fourth sacrifice fly of the year to plate Page, while junior right fielder Chelsea Hawkins smashed one back through the middle to score Hathorn to make it 2-0.

    Florida answered with two in the fourth. Back-to-back doubles by Merritt and Stephanie Tofft landed just past the outstretched glove of the diving Struett, scoring the first Gator run. Lauren Haeger singled back through the middle to plate Tofft and tie the game at 2-2.

    Rogers (28-4) tossed four shutout innings in relief, giving up four hits in the process. Gamecock redshirt sophomore Julie Sarratt (10-7) took the loss, allowing one earned run on two hits while fanning two.

    Merritt went 2-for-3 for the Gators, scoring twice while adding a double and a homer, while Tofft had two doubles in a 2-for-4 day as well. Gamecock senior shortstop Samie Garcia went 2-for-4 with a double, while Struett went 2-for-3 with a sacrifice bunt. Page got hit three times and scored a run, and Gonzales also went 2-for-4 with a double.

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    Bulldogs Even Series With No. 14 Texas A&M With 6-2 Road Win

    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Thanks to a three-run first inning and a critical three-run home run by junior Logan Foulks in the fifth, the Mississippi State softball team (32-20, 8-15 SEC) defeated No. 14 Texas A&M (38-14, 9-13 SEC) by a score of 6-2 Saturday afternoon at the Aggie Softball Complex. The Aggies became the fourth Top-15 team from the SEC the Bulldogs have defeated in 2013, with three of the four victories coming on the road.

    “It was a lot of fun to come out here, answer in the first inning and let everybody know there is a lot of fight left in these Bulldogs,”

    Head Coach Vann Stuedeman said. “It was very important for us to come out, look aggressive and look ready to play, just for the momentum factor.”

    With South Carolina wrapping up its regular season by splitting a doubleheader at home vs. Florida Saturday, and Auburn losing on a walk-off at Arkansas, MSU can clinch the 10th and final spot in the 2013 SEC Tournament Sunday with a win in the series finale. South Carolina will earn the spot with a MSU loss.

    Right-hander Alison Owen tossed her team-leading 15th complete game of the season, improving to 16-10 on the year. Despite entering the game second in the country in slugging percentage, A&M mustered just two runs and five hits off Owen, who finished with six strikeouts and two walks on 109 pitches. Texas A&M’s Lauren Ainsley fell to 12-7 after yielding six runs on eight hits and one error.

    State wasted no time scoring with a three-run first inning. With one out and the bases loaded, redshirt junior Erin Nesbit pulled a two-RBI single down the left-field line to put the Bulldogs on the board.

    Following a flyout to center for the second out, redshirt sophomore Briana Bell barreled a pitch to the gap in left for an RBI double.

    Texas A&M jumped on the board in the bottom of the third with a solo homer to left by second baseman Jenna Stark. The Aggies pulled within one run at 3-2 as a result of a two-out RBI single by Taran Tyler in the bottom of the fourth.

    The Aggies’ momentum came to a screeching halt with a critical error in the top of the fifth. State junior Sam Lenahan roped a worm burner up the middle for an infield single. Nesbit then hit a grounder to shortstop that appeared to end the inning, but the second baseman dropped the throw from shortstop for the would-be force out. With the inning still alive and the crowd deflated, Foulks deposited a first-pitch offering from Ainsley over the wall in left for a three-run Bully Bomb to give the game its final score of 6-2 in favor of Starkville’s Team.

    In total, eight out of nine starters tallied hits for State. Foulks led the way offensively for the Dawgs with her three run homer, going 1-for-4. For the second-consecutive game, Nesbit drove in two and scored a run on a 1-for-3 day. Briana Bell registered an RBI as well, also finishing 1-for-3.

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    No. 22 Arkansas completes comeback on senior day

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The No. 22 University of Arkansas softball team defeated the Auburn Tigers, 8-7, in eight innings on Saturday at Bogle Park.

    Jennifer Rambo delivered the one-out, game-winning, single in the bottom of the eighth inning, scoring Devon Wallace from third. Rambo finished the day 3-for-5 with three RBI and a stolen base.

    “I was happy to see Jennifer get that hit,” head coach Mike Larabee said. “She has been putting in a lot of extra time. She has carried her momentum from the Kentucky series into the rest of the season. Rambo has also been playing a very high level of defense.”

    Wallace’s game-winning run was her fourth of the contest. The sophomore added to her NCAA-leading walk total with five in the game. Her five walks, an Arkansas single-game record, pushed her total to 73 this season.

    “It is just like getting five singles,” Larabee said. “A lot of people don’t realize how well she runs. When we can get her into scoring position she is dangerous.”

    Senior captain Hope McLemore came into the game with the Razorbacks facing a four run deficit in the fifth. She made the most of her senior day and pitched 3.1 scoreless innings. McLemore received her sixth win of the season after allowing only two hits.

    “There is no quit in this team and they proved that tonight,” Larabee said. “Nobody was in a panic mode today. The character of this team showed tonight. We work hard at practice but we really enjoy this game.”

    Also having a nice day at the plate was Clarisa Navarro. She went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Jayme Gee hit the only homerun for the Razorbacks, she finished the night 2-for-4.

    “We barreled a lot of balls up tonight,” Larabee said. “To get the win tomorrow we are going to have to swing the bats well again. We have lofty goals for this year.”

    The game began with Chelsea Cohen starting her senior day strong and working a scoreless first inning, only allowing a single to Emily Carosone.

    Wallace started the bottom of the inning with her NCAA-leading 69th walk of the season and advanced to second on a Clairsa Navarro single. Wallace was hit home two batters later when Rambo lined a single into rightfield. Sierra Bronkey followed with an RBI of her own as she grounded out to first. Navarro scored on the play to make it 2-0, Razorbacks, after one.

    With two outs in the second inning Gee added to the lead. She belted a solo-homerun over the rightfield fence. Her eighth longball of the year gave Arkansas a 3-0 lead.

    After a leadoff single to start the third inning from Baylee Stephens, Cohen battled back to strikeout Tiffany Howard. Branndi Melero belted a two-run homer over the rightfield fence two pitches later. Her 10th homerun of the year cut the lead to one.

    Cohen rallied and retired the next seven batters she faced. Howard broke the streak with a two-out walk in the fifth inning. Melero followed the walk with a single through the right side of the infield. Carosone was then intentionally walked to load the bases for Brooke Lathan. She lined a two-out, two-run single to left. Morgan Estell followed the single with a triple off of the rightfield wall, scoring two more runs. Estell’s third triple of the year gave Auburn a 6-3 lead. This ended Cohen’s day in the circle as she gave way to McLemore. The senior captain allowed a single to Caitlin Jordan to push the lead to four runs.

    Wallace and Navarro started the bottom of the fifth inning with back-to-back walks. They both advanced on an Oprzedek groundout to put two runners in scoring position for Rambo. She delivered her second RBI-single of the day and cut the lead to three. Two batters later, Canfield beat out an infield single and Navarro scored on the play to trim the lead to 7-5.

    McLemore recovered and retired three straight batters into the sixth inning. Howard ended the streak with a hustle double to left. However, she was left stranded as McLemore blew three strikes past Melero to end the top of the sixth.

    The momentum stayed with Arkansas into the bottom half of the sixth as Gee notched a one-out single. Ashley Martindale then entered the game as a pinch-runner and advanced to second on Wallace’s fourth walk of the game and seventh of the series. Navarro approached the plate with two runners on and lined a single to leftfield, scoring the speedy Martindale from second. Oprzedek followed with an RBI-single of her own to knot the score at seven. Two batters later Bronkey skied a ball to deep centerfield, but it was caught to end the inning. The scored remained 7-7 as the game headed to the seventh inning.

    McLemore retired the first batter of the seventh before walking Lathan on four straight pitches. She made a nice play to stab Estell’s grounder out of the air and get the lead runner on the next pitch. Jordan lined out to leftfield to end the inning.

    Andrea Sullivan made the most of her senior day and hammered a one-out single past the shortstop in the bottom of the seventh. Claire Clark then came on to pinch-run and advanced to second on a wild pitch but was left stranded as the game moved to extra innings.  

    After a scoreless top of the eighth, Wallace drew her fifth walk of the game, an Arkansas single game record, to start the bottom of the inning. Navarro followed the walk with her third hit of the day and advanced Wallace to second. Oprzedek followed the single with a perfect bunt down the third-base line to advance the runners. That brought up the red-hot Rambo. She smashed a single through the right side of the infield and Wallace crossed the plate for an 8-7 win.

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    NO. 2 UT ROARS BACK WITH 10-1 (5) GAME 2 WIN OVER NO. 2 MIZZOU

    COLUMBIA, Mo. --Lauren Gibson hit a three-run homer, Raven Chavanne went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer, Ivy Renfroe and Ellen Renfroe combined for five strong innings and No. 2 Tennessee roared back in Game 2 late Saturday night with a 10-1, five-inning victory over No. 11 Missouri.

    Tennessee (43-8, 16-5 SEC) and Missouri (32-10, 14-8 SEC), were notified that they would have to play a Game 2 just an hour and a half prior the first pitch of the 7:30 p.m. ET Game 1. The second game did not start until after 9 p.m. with temperatures in the 40s.

    The Lady Vols took command of the game with a three-run third and followed that with three more runs in the fourth and four in the fifth. The Tigers scored their lone run in the bottom of the second.

    Chavanne tallied four hits for the second time this season, scored three runs and had a two-run blast in the fifth that put the game out of Mizzou's reach. Gibson's third-inning three-run blast gave UT the lead and set the tone for the rest of the game. That home run was the 16th on the season for Gibson, tying the single-season school record set by Tonya Callahan in 2008 and tied by Jessica Spigner in 2011. Melissa Brown went 1-for-2 with two RBIs and two runs. Madison Shipman drove in two runs and rookie Lexi Overstreet hit the first home run of her career to open the fourth.

    Ivy Renfroe (17-3) earned the win after starting and tossing 2.2 strong innings with one run allowed. Ellen Renfroe struck out two over 2.1 relief frames.

    Nicole Hudson (9-5) took the loss after allowing six runs (five earned) over four innings. Lindsey Muller allowed four earned runs in one relief inning.

    The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second. With one out and Corrin Genovese on first and Mackenzie Sykes on third, Genovese stole second and Sykes crossed home plate on the throw.

    Tennessee refused to have a repeat of its offensive struggles in Game 1. In the top of the third, Brown was hit by a pitch to start the inning. Raven Chavanne followed with a bunt single to the circle, giving UT two runners on. Gibson followed with a towering three-run home run to left center to give UT the 3-1 edge.

    The UT run parade continued in the top of the fourth. Overstreet sent a 2-1 pitch from Hudson over the wall in left center for a leadoff home run. With two outs, Chavanne legged out a single to second base and Gibson drew a five-pitch walk. Shipman came through with a two-RBI single to short, pushing Tennessee's lead to 6-1.

    In the top of the fifth, Rainey Gaffin drew a leadoff walk off and Hannah Akamine ripped a single to left field, giving the Lady Vols runners on the corners with two outs. Brown followed with a two-RBI double to right center. Chavanne stepped in and sent an 0-1 pitch from Muller over the wall in right center for a two-run blast, putting the run rule into effect.

    Tennessee and Missouri will close out their regular season schedules on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. A UT win would clinch the SEC regular season title for the Lady Vols. If UT loses, it would need a Florida loss to win the conference crown.