|THURSday Softball RESULTS
|Florida 8, Alabama 4
|Georgia 7, LSU 0
|Missouri 8, Arkansas 0
|Tennessee 5, South Carolina 0
Top-Seed Florida Advances with 8-4 win Over Alabama
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Florida softball freshman centerfielder Kirsti Merritt (Lake Panasoffkee, Fla.) went a career tying 3-for-4 with five RBI to help lead the top-seeded Gator softball squad to an 8-4 victory over Alabama Thursday in the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington.
Florida became the first team in the country to 50 wins with the victory, as the Gators are now 50-7 overall on the year. UF advances to the conference tournament semifinals and will face Georgia for a fourth time this season, as the Bulldogs just defeated LSU, 7-0, in the second game of the day.
First pitch for both SEC Tournament Semifinal games have been altered due to the potential for inclement weather in Lexington. Florida and Georgia will square off at 1 p.m. (ET), while the winners of Missouri/Arkansas and Tennessee/South Carolina will take to the field at 3:30 p.m. (ET).
UF’s semifinal contest will air live on ESPNU, as ESPN’s softball crew of Beth Mowins, Holly Rowe, Michele Smith, Jessica Mendoza and Cara Capuano will handle coverage through the duration of the tournament.
Gator fans can also keep track of all Florida’s games live locally and online on the radio at 105 The Game, with Adam Schick and Megan Bush on the call. For all broadcast information throughout the week, stay posted to UF’s schedule page on GatorZone.com.
With a tie game heading into the bottom of the sixth after the Gators and Crimson Tide each put up four runs – Florida with a run in the first and three in the fourth and Alabama a four-run fifth inning – Merritt drilled her fifth homer of the season off the left-field foul pole for the eventual game-winner, her sixth of the season.
In addition to Merritt’s stellar day, freshman leadoff and second baseman Kelsey Stewart (Wichita, Kan.) took sole possession of UF’s single-season stolen bases record, swiping second in the fourth inning after a RBI infield single. Stewart was 2-for-4 on the day with one RBI to aid UF’s winning efforts.
Sophomore Briana Little (Middleburg, Fla.) drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the first to start things off for the Gators with a 1-0 lead early. With one down, Merritt reached on a Bama fielding error before junior Stephanie Tofft (Lincoln, Calif.) reached on an infield single smoked to third base. Sophomore Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) drew her team-leading 38th walk of the season to juice the bags for Little’s RBI walk.
The Orange and Blue then put up a three-spot in the bottom of the fourth to increase the Florida lead, 4-0, started by a Stewart RBI liner to third base before Merritt connected with her second hit of the day, a two-RBI single up the middle for the four-run Gator advantage.
Alabama then responded in the top of the fifth with four runs, first loading the bases with four straight hits to start the inning, the fourth of which plated the Tide’s first run of the afternoon. A ground out plated a second run for Alabama in the top of the inning and the Tide added two more on a wild pitch and Molly Fichtner RBI single for a tie ballgame after five.
Merritt continued a career-best day with a game-winning three-run blast in the bottom of the sixth, as the Gators put up a four spot to go ahead for good. Sophomore Bailey Castro (Pembroke Pines, Fla.) drew a leadoff walk, before a Stewart bunt single and error put runners on second and third with no outs for Merritt’s game-winning heroics, as the first-year Freshman All-SEC pick went yard to knock in her third, fourth and fifth RBI of the day.
UF added an insurance run on a Little foul out that allowed an eighth Gator run to score.
Junior ace Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.) (5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) earned the start for the Gators in the circle and tossed the first five innings before Haeger came on with the game tied 4-4 to pick up the win. Haeger (2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 K) improved to 14-2, her fourth win over a top-25 opponent this season.
Florida is now 20-23 (.465) all-time in the SEC Tournament and advanced to the SEC Tournament Championship last season for the fifth time in program history. The Orange and Blue have played in the SEC Championship Game five times (1997, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2012).
The Gators are 12-4 (.750) against top-25 opponents, tops in the SEC, own 17 come-from-behind wins – seven in SEC play – and are 5-2 (.714) in extra-inning games in 2013. Florida owns 18 shutouts, paced by junior ace Hannah Rogers’ (Lake Wales, Fla.) nine. Florida is 10-3 versus 1-25 RPI opponents, 13-3 against opponents ranked 26-50 in the RPI rankings and 16-1 against teams 50-100 in the most recent RPI standings.
Georgia Offense Rolls to 7-0 Win Over LSU
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The fifth-seeded University of Georgia softball team powered its way to a 7-0 win over the No. 4 seed LSU Tigers in the quarterfinal round of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament in Lexington, Ky. Georgia improved to 38-18 with the win, while LSU fell to 40-14 this season. The win marked Georgia's seventh win over a ranked opponent in the last four weeks, and the third win over LSU in a week.
Chelsea Wilkinson earned her fourth win over a top-25 opponent in the last four weeks, throwing a complete game shutout to improve to 8-4 on the season and scattering just five hits over seven innings. Rachele Fico got the start for LSU and dropped to 24-11 on the season with the loss. She allowed seven runs, six of which were earned, on 10 hits and three walks in the complete-game performance. She also struck out seven batters.
After a pair of 1-2-3 innings by Wilkinson, Katie Browne gave the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the top of the third with a leadoff home run deep over the left field wall. Georgia looked to add to its lead, but left two runners stranded as the side was retired.
Anna Swafford led off the top of the fifth inning by working a full count before taking the payoff pitch through the right side for a single. Paige Wilson followed by legging out an infield single to put a pair of runners on with no outs. With runners at second and third with one away, Kaylee Puailoa delivered a single through the right side and into shallow right field that allowed both runners to score and extend Georgia's lead to 3-0.
Tess Sito reached base for the third time of the game with a leadoff walk in the sixth. A sacrifice bunt by Christine Olney moved Sito to second. With Sito in scoring position, Niaja Griffin singled, but a fielding error at first allowed Sito to come home and Griffin to move to second, giving the Bulldogs a 4-0 lead.
A.J. Andrews laced a single down the right field line in the bottom of the sixth to give the Tigers a runner with one out. After Wilkinson struck out Jacee Blades, Bianka Bell singled into left, putting two on for LSU. Maya Branch secured the third out with a running grab in foul territory down the right field line to end the scoring threat.
Georgia added three insurance runs in the top seventh to take a 7-0 lead. With runners at first and second after a walk by Wilson and single by Geri Ann Glasco, Puailoa came through with a single to right to load the bases with no outs for the Bulldogs. Tina Iosefa battled through a long at bat but was hit by a pitch, which allowed Wilson to cross the plate and give Georgia a 5-0 lead. Sito made it a 6-0 game when she hit into a fielder's choice that allowed pinch runner Katie Sowers to score. Puailoa scored Georgia's seventh and final run of the game when she came home as Sito was caught stealing second.
Sykes Day at the Plate Leads Mizzou to Win vs. Arkansas
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – No. 7 Mizzou softball used a walk-off double from freshman 2B Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) to down No. 22 Arkansas in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament, winning 8-0 in five innings at John Cropp Stadium on Thursday. The Tigers were led offensively by junior OF Mackenzie Sykes (Blue Springs, Mo.) and sophomore 1B Kelsea Roth (Yorba Linda, Calif.), with Roth hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sykes batted a perfect 3-for-3 with a single, double and triple.
The No. 3-seeded Tigers improved to 34-10 with the win, while the sixth-seeded Razorbacks ended their conference tournament at a 34-18 overall record. Senior pitcher Chelsea Thomas (Pleasantville, Iowa), recently named the SEC Pitcher of the Year, pitched the complete game (5.0 IP), allowing just two hits, one walk and striking out five Arkansas batters. Thomas improved to 21-4 in the circle with her efforts.
Mizzou advances to the semifinals of its first SEC tournament, set to be played at 2:30 p.m. CT on Friday, May 10, against the winner of No. 2 Tennessee and No. 10 South Carolina.
Two-straight hits to start the bottom of the first from freshman 2B Emily Crane (Troy, Mo.) and senior catcher Jenna Marston (St. Louis, Mo.) got runners into scoring position early for Mizzou. The 2013 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Marston doubled to left center to advance Crane around to third base, with senior Nicole Hudson (Webb City, Mo.) then hitting a sacrifice fly to bring home Crane for a 1-0. Sykes’ first hit, an infield single, scored Marston to finish the opening frame with a 2-0 lead.
A single and double helped Mizzou score more runs in the bottom of the third. A leadoff single from Marston (2-for-3) was batted around to third base on double down the left field line by sophomore 3B Angela Randazzo (Poway, Calif.). It was then Sykes’ triple to right center that cleaned off the bases for a 4-0 lead. A sacrifice fly from Roth to center field then scored Sykes for a 5-0 advantage.
The Tigers got three more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to end the game by run-rule. Two of those runs came from Roth’s 13th long ball of the season, which scored Sykes after her double to set the score at 7-0. With two on base and two outs, Crane doubled to left center to drive in sophomore SS Corrin Genovese (East Amherst, N.Y.), who had previously walked, for the game-ending run. Crane finished the game batting 2-for-4 from the plate.
ELLEN RENFROE, NO. 2-SEED UT SHUT DOWN NO. 10-SEED SC, 5-0
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LEXINGTON, Ky. --Lauren Gibson had an RBI double that set the tone early, Kat Dotson hammered a solo home run and Ellen Renfroe fanned six over seven shutout frames as No. 2-seed Tennessee shut down No. 10-seed South Carolina, 5-0, in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Thursday.
Tennessee (44-9) enjoyed a three-run first inning and added runs in the third and the fifth to control the game from start to finish while Renfroe and the UT defense contained South Carolina (32-23) to extend the Lady Vols' streak to 25 straight wins against the Gamecocks.
Tennessee will now face Missouri (34-10) in the SEC Tournament semifinals on Friday at 3:30 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPNU and there will be a live audio feed on UTSports.com.
Gibson was 2-for-2 with an RBI double, one run, two walks and a stolen base. Dotson was 2-for-2 with a solo homer. Raven Chavanne went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs. Madison Shipman and Cheyanne Tarango each drove in one run.
Renfroe (16-4) was outstanding in the circle, tallying six strikeouts over seven shutout frames. She demonstrated great command, painting the corners of the strike zone beautifully.
Audrey Broyles (9-9) started the game and allowed four runs over the first two frames to earn the loss. Julie Sarratt allowed one run over the remaining four innings in relief.
Tennessee jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to some hot hitting at the top of the lineup. Chavanne hit a leadoff infield single to third to get things rolling. After Chavanne stole second, Gibson clubbed an RBI double off the wall in left. Gibson then stole third and advanced home on a throwing error by the catcher. Two batters later, Dotson drilled a 1-2 pitch to right field for her fifth home run of season.
In the bottom of the third, Chavanne and Gibson were at it again, hitting back-to back singles through the infield to start the inning. After Sarratt replaced Broyles in the circle, Shipman knocked an RBI single through the left side with Chavanne scoring and Gibson out at third.