The NCAA Softball Tournament kicked off on Thursday, and Friday brings a loaded slate to the table!
13 games will be going down today!
|LSU vs. McNeese||2:30 p.m.||WatchESPN|
|Alabama vs. Minnesota||6:10 p.m.||ESPNU||WatchESPN|
|Arizona vs. South Carolina||7 p.m.||WatchESPN|
Keep it tuned here for all your NCAA Softball Tourney updates!
Tulsa 5, Arkansas 4
Arkansas battled after facing a late deficit, but were ultimately dispatched by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in their tourney opener.
Facing a 4-3 lead that Tulsa had, Arkansas had to rally in the top of the seventh. A solo shot by Katie Warrick provided the ammo to push the Razorbacks to a tie score and provide hope that they would get another crack. The Golden Hurricane had other ideas however. Haley Meinen led off the bottom of the 7th inning with a walk-off solo homer that propped the 23rd ranked team in the country over the top.
The Razorbacks, who now will face the loser of the matchup between Oklahoma and North Dakota State, will also face elimination when they retake the field on Saturday.
The Hogs held an early 3-0 advantage in the game following a big second inning. Nicole Schroeder slugged a solo homer to get things started, giving way to Autumn Russell who muscled a two-run triple later in the frame.
That triple would be matched right down to a tee in the ensuing inning.
Golden Hurricane shortstop Shannon Hughes came up large with a two-run triple of her own. The Hogs held serve up until the fifth frame. There, Meinen reached on a fielder’s choice that brought Julia Hollingsworth home. Then, Maggie Withee went up to bat and she would proceed to drop a bunt down that eventually plated Morgan Neal.
The lead hitter of the day for the Hogs was Russell, who went 2-4 at the plate.The Hogs got six hits from five different batters in the game. Autumn Storms pitched well, allowing just the two earned runs (which amounted to four thanks to errors) on four hits, struck out four while walking just one.
Kentucky 6, DePaul 0
They might have been delayed by one and a half hours due to Marshall and Illinois’ twelve-inning affair, but today’s game made it clear that Kentucky was more than ready for postseason play.
From the outset, the Wildcats’ bats were red-hot, and both their base-running prowess and speed were on display. The first inning saw five Kentucky players make it across home plate, the first of whom was Katie Reed. After reaching base on a walk and advancing to second on a sac bunt, it was an infield hit from Abbey Cheek that provided Reed the opportunity she needed to turn on the jets and head home.
After Cheek legged out that infield hit, it was all downhill for DePaul. The Blue Demons went on to allow four straight hits, with the final one of that streak coming in the form of a two-RBI double by Jenny Schaper. A 1-0 lead was quickly turned into a 5-0 one, and the game was essentially over in the first inning.
DePaul, in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014, was unable to get anything going offensively. Much of this can be chalked up to Meagan Prince’s stellar performance at the mound as well as the defensive aptitude of the Kentucky infield. In 6 innings of work, Prince managed to strike out 5 Blue Demon hitters and allow only 2 hits. It was a performance well-deserving of praise and an accompanying win.
Now, after the floodgates were opened for the Kentucky offense in the first inning, the rest of the game proceeded in a relatively speedy, routine fashion (save for a 5th inning double by Alex Martens that brought home another run). No team could—in DePaul’s case, duplicate, or in Kentucky’s case, replicate—what occurred in the bottom of the first inning.
Kentucky will go on to face fellow victor Illinois at noon on Saturday in the Wildcats’ attempt to reach the Super Regionals. A win would send them straight into Sunday’s action to play for such a trip. A loss would force them to battle back from the loser’s bracket.
Florida 9, Florida A&M 0 (5 innings)
The Gators showed why they were named the #1 overall seed, as they knocked off their in-state foes from Florida A&M 9-0 in five innings via the run rule.
Florida pitcher Delanie Gourley recorded her second career postseason no-hitter, with the other coming against FAMU in 2014. Gourley struck out eight and allowed just one walk in Friday’s victory over Florida A&M.
The Gators got on the board in the first inning with an Amanda Lorenz solo home run to left center. After a scoreless second inning, 12 Gators came to the plate en route to a seven-run third inning.
It was a balanced offensive output for Florida, as Lorenz, Justine McLean, and Janell Wheaton each drove in a pair of runs, while Jordan Roberts and Nicole DeWitt added RBIs of their own.
Per ESPN, the Gators have now recorded shutout in 11 straight regional games, going back to 2013.
Florida will face Oklahoma State Saturday afternoon.
Georgia 4, Jacksonville State 2
Georgia got off on the right foot with a 4-2 win over Jacksonville State on Friday.
The Bulldogs came into the game fresh after missing out on the SEC Tournament, but the week off didn’t disparage them in any way. UGA still managed to manufacture a win to advance in their bracket, as they’ll likely take on Florida State assuming they win against Princeton.
The ‘Dawgs were primarily led by their 3-4-5 hitters. Alyssa DiCarlo, Maeve McGuire and Lacey Sumerlin went a combined 6-9 at the plate with a combined two doubles, three RBI and two runs scored. McGuire and Sumerlin struck in the third inning, with the former lacing an RBI single and the latter mashing a two-RBI double. Mahlena O’Neal drove in what was the final run of the game off of a sacrifice groundout to the pitcher in the bottom of the sixth inning. This came after Leila Chambers chipped away at what was a 3-1 lead with a solo homer in the top stanza of the sixth.
Kylie Bass stood firmly on the mound as she pitched a complete game in Tallahassee. Bass scattered seven hits and two earned runs over the course of the outing, struck out seven batters and issued just one walk.
Auburn 11, East Tennessee State 0 (5 innings)
The Auburn Tigers got off on the right foot on Friday afternoon, picking up an 11-0 run rule victory over East Tennessee State at Jane B. Moore Field.
Courtney Shea got the Tigers on the board first with a second inning with an RBI single scoring Kendall Veach. For a while, it looked like that might be all the offense the Tigers would be able to produce for the day, as they went down 1-2-3 in the third inning.
The fourth inning, though, would be drastically different.
Thanks to a variety of hits, walks, and sacrifices, the Tigers recorded ten runs in the fourth frame on six hits. 15 players came to the plate in the inning.
Similar to Florida’s run rule victory, the offense was pretty well spread out, as nine different players recorded at least one RBI, with Carlee Wallace’s three leading the way.
In the circle for the Tigers, Makayla Martin allowed just one hit and struck out five over five innings.
Auburn will move on to face California on Saturday afternoon.
Alabama 5, Albany 1
The Alabama Crimson Tide gradually got things on a roll while pitcher Sydney Littlejohn came in and shut it down as they beat the Albany Great Danes, 5-1.
So, I thought that this game would be a breeze for the Crimson Tide. However, that wasn't the case. The Great Danes put up a great fight but just couldn't quite break through. Littlejohn was solid in the circle, tossing 4.2 shutout innings, striking out seven while allowing just one hit. She came in to relieve starting pitcher Madi Moore, who while effective was a bit while, as she hit three Great Dane batters. Moore pitched 2.1 innings, allowing only one run on two hits and struck out three.
‘Bama didn't stay down for long. Reagan Dykes hit a bomb over the left field fence on the first pitch in the bottom of the third inning for her fourth homer of the year. Dykes went 2-3 in the game, also contributing a single to the cause. Dykes’ shined defensively as well, picking off two players on base, one going to second base and another one going back to first.
Can you say, “Beast Mode”?
The fifth inning was the Tide’s inning, both offensively and defensively. As they already were up by one run (2-1) from an RBI single by Marisa Runyon, Littlejohn struck out two and the Crimson Tide went on a swinging spree in the bottom stanza. Chandler Dare got an RBI double that brought in Elissa Brown, who was walked and stole second for an extra push to get her in. Then, Bailey Hemphill came up to bat and dropped in a two-run bomb, her ninth of the season. That widened Alabama’s lead by four runs, and would be all the difference that they would need.
Alabama goes on to play Minnesota Saturday.
Fordham 9, Mississippi State 3
The Mississippi State Bulldogs saw their season come to an abrupt end on Friday evening, as they were defeated 9-3 by the Fordham Rams in the Salt Lake City regional. Mississippi State fell to BYU on Thursday night, as well, and are thus out of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bulldogs got on the board early with a Reggie Harrison double in the first inning, bringing home Kat Moore and putting the Bulldogs up 1-0. That would remain the score until the top of the third inning, when Fordham struck for four runs on four hits. The fourth inning saw the Rams pick up four more runs on four more hits, and suddenly the Bulldogs were in an 8-1 hole.
Fordham would tack on one more run in the top of the sixth to extend its lead to 9-1, then Mississippi State attempted to mount a comeback. Olivia Golden led off the inning with a double and came around to score after an Amanda Ivy single. Moore would single Ivy in later in the inning, but that was all the offense the Bulldogs could muster.
Mississippi State finishes the year with a 36-22 record.
LSU 2, Fairfield 1
The LSU Tigers picked up a win in their NCAA Tourney opener on Friday, defeating Fairfield 2-1 in Baton Rouge.
The Tigers, who advance to face Louisiana on Saturday afternoon, got little out of their offense but were able to make it count. Only three hits by three different batters were collected on the evening, as Emily Griggs, Amanda Doyle and Sydney Springfield were the lone batters to make an impact.
Interestingly enough, the lone two runs of the game were brought on by an error in the field. In the first, the Tigers got two runs across thanks to an error in right. Bailey Landry and the aforementioned Griggs were able to take advantage, scoring after Shemiah Sanchez had made initial contact.
Sydney Smith and Carley Hoover held it down in the win. Smith tossed six innings, allowed three hits, no earned runs (the one run scored came on an error), struck out one and walked one. Carley Hoover pitched a clean seventh inning to finish the game, issuing a walk but didn’t let it come back to bite her.
South Carolina 12, St. Francis 2 (5 innings)
The South Carolina Gamecocks run-ruled St. Francis 12-2 in their NCAA Tourney opener.
The Gamecocks poured it on from the jump as they built up a 9-0 lead after the third inning. The third inning was their most explosive, as the Gamecock offense scored five runs in the bottom stanza. Three more would be tacked on in the fifth (and what would be the final) inning to close out what was an extremely strong opening performance.
Mackenzie Boesel had the top performance of the day. Boesel went 3-3 at the plate with a double, a home run and EIGHT (!) RBI in the victory. Victoria Williams and Alyssa VanDerveer also hit home runs in the contest and combined for four RBI on their own. Jordyn Augustus and Kamryn Watts were the other Gamecock batters to collect hits in the victory on Friday evening.
Cayla Drotar stood tall in the win. Drotar pitched five innings, allowed four hits, two runs (which came in the fifth), had a strikeout and walked two batters.
South Carolina will face the winner of New Mexico State-Arizona, which is happening later Friday in Tucson.
Tennessee 5, Longwood 0
The Volunteers took care of business against the Lancers in their first NCAA Tournament game, blanking them by a 5-0 margin.
Matty Moss pitched an excellent game for the Vols, allowing just one hit and one walk and striking out ten in seven innings for her 24th win of the season.
Jenna Holcomb got the scoring started in the first inning for the Vols, driving home Aubrey Leach with a single. Meghan Gregg would single home Holcomb to give Tennessee a 2-0 lead.
In her next at-bat, Holcomb singled home CJ McClain. Then, Gregg hit a solo home run to extend the lead to 4-0.
Brooke Vines would hit a solo home run in the sixth to tack on an insurance run and give the Vols the 5-0 lead.
Tennessee will face South Carolina Upstate on Saturday.
Wisconsin 7, Missouri 2
Mizzou fell 7-2 in Eugene to the Wisconsin Badgers on Friday night to put them in an early hole in the NCAA Tournament.
After taking a 1-0 lead, the Tigers found themselves tied with the Badgers after the third inning. From there though, Mizzou would post four consecutive innings of zeroes as the Badgers shut the offense down. They could muster up all but three hits the entire game to go with their meager two runs, while Wisconsin had seven runs on six hits. Essentially, they picked the worst possible time for their bats to go cold.
Only Regan Nash, Cayla Kessenger and Natalie Fleming picked up hits in the contest. The runs by the Tigers were scored on sac groundouts in the 1st and 3rd by Kirsten Mack and Braxton Burnside. Freshman Kaitlyn Menz, who was named an All-B1G Second Teamer for her work this season, flashed her brilliance in the circle. Menz pitched a complete game while striking out two and allowed zero extra base hits.
Texas A&M 14, Texas Southern 0
There was never any doubt here. From the outset, Texas A&M, the 9th national seed in the NCAA Tournament, proved their worthiness of such a ranking. Notching 14 runs in 5 innings, the Aggies forced the 8-run rule (the mercy rule) to be broken out after the 5th. After being delayed for what felt like an eternity while Texas and Texas State battled it out, Texas A&M made quick work of their opponents tonight.
After putting up 3 runs in the first, it was the 3rd inning where the Aggies came together to score enough runs to end this game 2 innings earlier than usual.
While the entire offense is likely deserving of MVP honors, tonight’s star performance came from Lexi Smith. The Texas A&M starter pitched all 5 innings in the Aggies’ victory, striking out 9 batters while allowing only 2 hits.
Impressively, Smith faced 19 batters, and she struck out 9. Basically, if you were headed up to the plate, there was almost a 50% chance you were going to be struck out. Truly spectacular stuff.
Texas A&M will face Texas State tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. ET. If the Aggies win that matchup, they’ll automatically move on to Sunday’s action and await their next challenger.
Ole Miss 8, Southern Illinois 0 (5 innings)
Kylan Becker hit a bases loaded triple and a 2 RBI inside the park home run to lead Ole Miss to an 8-0 victory over Southern Illinois in the first NCAA regional hosted in Oxford.
Throughout the week, excitement reached a fever pitch in Oxford coming off of last week’s SEC Tournament title. Ticket books for the regional were snapped up early in the week, even with temporary bleachers brought in to accommodate the surging crowds.
The home fans did not have to wait long to explode as the Rebels jumped out to a five run second inning, continuing a trend from last week’s SEC Tournament in which Mike Smith’s squad scored in the first two innings in each game. The scoring was opened with a safety squeeze bunt by Courtney Syrett and a couple batters later, Becker hit a bases loaded triple down the left field line as the Rebels batted around in the inning.
That five run lead was enough as pitcher Kaitlin Lee held the Salukis scoreless while scattering four hits and giving up no walks. Eyrika Brandenburg picked up a pair of the hits for Southern Illinois, but they were unable to string together any runs.
The Rebels closed out the game with a three run fifth inning as Miranda Strother’s RBI single ended the game due to the run rule.
The Rebels advance to face Arizona State in the winners’ bracket tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. ET while Souther Illinois faces North Carolina in an elimination game later in the afternoon.