After a busy Friday saw all 13 SEC softball teams in action in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday features 12 teams!
(Arkansas’ game will come later today as the opponent is still TBD)
|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!
Kentucky 1, Illinois 0
Megan Prince gave the Wildcats seven shutout innings of three-hit ball as Kentucky advanced to the regional final for the fifth consecutive season.
After three scoreless innings on each side, Kentucky broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning in a painful way. After Bailey Vick drew a leadoff walk and was bunted to second, Abbey Cheek and Brooklyn Hinz were both hit by a pitch to load the bases. Breanne Ray hit a sacrifice fly to right field to get the Wildcats on the board.
That was all Prince would need, as she retired the next nine Illinois hitters she saw in order to clinch the shutout victory.
Kentucky will move on to face the winner of Illinois vs. DePaul OR Marshall, Sunday afternoon. Both the DePaul/Marshall and Illinois/winner game will be played later Saturday in Lexington.
Florida 2, Oklahoma State 0
SEC Pitcher of the Year Kelly Barnhill struck out 15 batters and allowed one hit in Florida’s 2-0 win over Oklahoma State.
Barnhill was as fierce as ever against the Cowgirls, taking them down with relative ease in the circle as she was hardly challenged. Despite walking two batters, the Gators defense made sure that no runs would come to pass on the afternoon in Gainesville.
Aleshia Ocasio delivered the goods, as she went 2-3 at the plate with two RBI. The two runs were driven in on a single in the fourth inning, bringing Nicole DeWitt and Kayli Kvistad home. With Barnhill pitching as effectively as she did, Ocasio made the big difference in the ball game with one swing of the bat.
Florida now moves on to Sunday’s Regional Final, which will come against either Florida A&M, FIU or Oklahoma State depending on how the rest of Saturday’s action goes.
Florida State 7, Georgia 1
After starting off with a win, Georgia was brought back down to earth on Saturday. The Florida State Seminoles walloped the Bulldogs 7-1 in Tallahassee, which in turn is a result that now puts the ‘Dawgs on the verge of elimination.
To make it out of the losers’ bracket, UGA will have to find a way to defeat either Princeton or Jacksonville State (again) later Saturday. If they do, a rematch with FSU will await them on Sunday afternoon.
Brittany Gray was handed the loss after being unable to keep FSU’s batters in check. In five innings of work, Gray allowed six hits, five earned runs, walked four while striking out just two. The ‘Noles jumped all over her, slugging three home runs in the contest, as Anna Shelnutt, Carsyn Gordon and Jessie Warren all took Gray deep in their lopsided victory.
The lone run of the day for UGA was scored in the seventh and final inning. Jordan Doggett laced an RBI single to score Brea Dickey, but it was far too little, too late for the ‘Dawgs at that point.
Tennessee 7, USC Upstate 3
In a seven inning softball game, you must record 21 outs to defeat your opponent.
Through the first 19 outs on Saturday in Knoxville, USC Upstate was absolutely cruising. Leading 3-0 heading into the top of the seventh, Upstate pitcher Holly McKinnon recorded out #19, getting Brooke Vines to groundout. Tennessee had been struggling at the plate all day and still in search of its first hit. After Megan Geer walked and Scarlett McSwain reached on an error, McKinnon got Chelsea Seggern to pop out for out #20.
Down by three runs and hitless with one out to go, Tennessee’s last hope came to the plate in the form of Abby Lockman. Lockman got hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Tennessee sent Haley Bearden to the plate to pinch hit. Bearden finally got the Vols in the hit column with an RBI single, scoring Geer and McSwain.
No big deal, right? Upstate still just had to record one out and they would pull off the upset.
Aubrey Leach came to the plate and scorched a home run to center field to put Tennessee up 5-3. They weren’t done, yet. After a Jenna Holcomb single, Meghan Gregg hit a two-run homer to give the Vols the 7-3 lead. Seven runs with two outs in the seventh inning.
Obviously you don’t want to have to be in a position where you have to mount a comeback, but a win is a win and Tennessee will certainly take it.
They advance to Sunday’s regional final where they’ll face the winner of USC Upstate vs. Longwood OR Ohio State.
Auburn 4, Cal 3 (9 innings)
Auburn advances to Sunday following a walk-off win over Cal!
The Tigers emerged victorious in a tussle with the Golden Bears, winning 4-3 in nine innings. Alyssa Rivera’s RBI single brought Brittany Maresette home in the final stanza to help lift her team to Sunday ,where Auburn can have a chance to make it back to the Supers.
Haley Fagan had a huge day at the plate as the Tigers rightfielder went 4-5 on Saturday afternoon. Fagan racked up no XBH on the day, but the four-hit day certainly shouldn’t be discounted because of that. Kasey Cooper got out of a hole she dug herself into with a 2-5 day at the plate and an RBI that tied the game in the sixth inning. Victoria Draper had a two hit day at the plate as well while Rivera, credited with the game-winning hit, racked up three hits. Morgan Podany went 1-1 meanwhile.
Kaylee Carlson and Makayla Martin were the pitchers in the circle for Auburn, and both fared pretty well all things considered. Carlson allowed three hits in six innings, had three strikeouts and no walks and scattered five hits over the outing. Martin came in and allowed just one hit over three innings of work, issued one walk and struck out two while allowing no XBH.
Auburn will face either Cal, ETSU or Notre Dame on Sunday depending on Saturday’s results.
Alabama 1, Minnesota 0 (9 innings)
In a game that showed why many were surprised that these two teams ended up in the same regional, the Alabama Crimson Tide outlasted the Minnesota Golden Gophers for a 1-0 win in nine innings.
Alexis Osorio was flat out dominant for the Tide, pitching all nine innings, allowing two hits, and striking out 11.
Minnesota pitcher Sara Groenewegen was equally dominant, pitching the entire game, allowing four hits, and striking out 10.
The only difference was Groenewegen got into a jam that she couldn’t get out of in the ninth inning. She allowed a pair of singles, sandwiched between an out. Marisa Runyon was hit by a pitch to load the bases before Bailey Hemphill fouled out. Reagan Dykes worked a 3-0 count, and drew the walk-off walk to send ‘Bama to the regional final.
There’s a significant chance that Alabama and Minnesota will play at least one more time this weekend. The Golden Gophers will face the winner of Saturday afternoon’s Albany/Louisiana Tech game. If Minnesota wins, they’ll face the Tide in the regional final.
Texas A&M 3, Texas State 1
Texas A&M’s stay in the NCAA Tournament continues on after their 3-1 win over Texas State.
The Aggies and Bobcats fought tooth and nail on Saturday afternoon, with neither team budging all that much. The Bobcats took the lead in the first inning following a bases loaded walk drawn by Corrina Liscano. Liscano’s walk allowed for centerfielder Christiana McDowell to trot home, and things began looking bleak for the Aggies after that. Randi Rupp held them scoreless for four innings before the dam eventually broke.
Kristen Cuyos delivered the game-tying hit in the fifth inning. The Aggies shortstop drilled a two-out single to left field that brought Keeli Milligan in after Milligan had advanced all the way to third in the previous two ABs. After A&M couldn’t capitalize, despite putting Cuyos in scoring position, they would make up for it in the sixth.
Once again, with two outs, Texas A&M made it happen. Milligan stepped up and drove a double to left field that allowed Sarah Hudek to score the go-ahead run. Then, after a wild pitch brought Milligan to third, Kaitlyn Alderink smacked a single to bring Milligan in as the insurance run.
Samantha Show then took the circle in the seventh inning and wrapped up the game with a 1-2-3 inning. Show allowed six hits in her complete game effort, struck out three, allowed the one earned run but did show some control/efficiency issues. Show had 121 pitches in the game and issued four walks to Bobcat batters. They didn’t plague the Aggies too much obviously, but we’ll see if she can right the ship in her next opportunity.
Texas A&M now faces either Texas State, Texas or Texas Southern on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Arizona 5, South Carolina 0
All season long, the Arizona Wildcats have been (as expected) one of the country’s best teams. Given their claim to a 49-7 record and the #2 national seed, it would take quite a formidable foe to upset them in the Tuscon Regional.
Unfortunately for South Carolina, they could not pull off such an win on Saturday afternoon.
The Gamecocks—a top 25 team that is more than deserving of respect for their body of work this season—ran headfirst into the accolade-laden Danielle O’Toole. The senior pitcher has one of the most impressive stat lines in the country, sporting a 28-4 record and 1.06 ERA.
As to be expected, South Carolina had trouble finding any offense against Arizona whatsoever. It took until the 7th inning for them to get their first hit, and they had already found themselves locked in a 5-0 deficit by that point (thanks to the power hitting of Katiyana Mauga).
Once the lead was relinquished in the 3rd inning after Mauga crushed her 24th home run of the season, it was all but over for South Carolina. Arizona used that cushion to coast to the victory, picking up a few insurance runs in the bottom of the 5th to put the game out of reach.
Now, many South Carolina fans will have a legitimate beef with the umpires today, as all of the 5th inning runs were scored after Hillary Edior was questionably ruled safe after diving into first base. Reviews showed that the play was pretty close, and—in all honesty—she should have been ruled out, ending the inning.
However, this loss does not spell the end of the Gamecocks’ season. South Carolina will face the winner of St. Francis (PA)-New Mexico State at 10:15 p.m. ET this evening. Grab a cup of joe, South Carolina fans. It’s going to be a late night.
Georgia 8, Jacksonville State 2
Faced with a win-or-go-home scenario, the Georgia Bulldogs lived to fight another day after picking up a 8-2 victory over Jacksonville State in the elimination bracket.
The Bulldogs had a pretty stress-free evening, grabbing the lead in the second inning with a Mahlena O’Neal RBI double and a Cortni Emanuel RBI single.
Jacksonville State got a run back in the bottom of the second with a home run, but Georgia came right back in the third with a Maeve McGuire sacrifice fly and a Lacey Sumerlin solo shot to extend the lead to 4-1.
The game’s biggest play came in the top of the sixth inning. Holding a 4-2 lead with the bases loaded, McGuire sent a shot back up the middle which was misplayed in centerfield and allowed all three Bulldogs to score, extending the lead to 7-2.
Kylie Bass pitched the final 3.1 innings in relief of Amanda Abian and faced 11 batters, just one more than the minimum. She struck out five of them.
Georgia will get another shot at Florida State in Sunday’s regional final, but the Bulldogs will have to beat the Seminoles twice to win the regional.
UL Lafayette 4, LSU 2
LSU’s chances of making a run in the Supers - or at least out of their own region - took a hit with their 4-2 loss to UL Lafayette on Saturday night.
After rain pushed the start time back quite a ways, the teams took the field late Saturday night. There wasn’t much rust as the teams combined for 15 hits in the game in spite of the low run output. Every LSU batter, sans Sydney Springfield, recorded a hit in the game but capitalizing was where they fell.
The Tigers only picked up three XBH in the game - two doubles and a triple. UL Lafayette Alex Stewart pitched rather well, going the distance, scattering eight hits over the seven innings, and struck out three while allowing no walks.
The Bayou Bengals now move to tomorrow, where they’ll take part in an elimination game against either Fairfield or McNeese.
Illinois-Chicago 5, Missouri 4
Well, that was a bummer.
After trailing for most of the evening, Mizzou rallied for three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead. Natalie Fleming got it started with a single, Cayla Kessinger tied it up with a double, and Braxton Burnside gave the Tigers the lead with a single. For a time, it looked like Mizzou would live to see another day.
Then, they didn’t.
UIC opened their half of the seventh with back-to-back singles. After a sac bunt moved the runners to second and third, the Flames tied the game with a groundout. When it looked like Mizzou would push the game to extra innings, UIC’s Kayla Wedl singled to left field on a 2-2 count and won the game for the Flames.
Mizzou’s season comes to a disappointing end at 29-28.
Oklahoma 5, Arkansas 3
This is one the Razorbacks would probably like back. The type of loss that will really eat away at you all offseason.
After allowing two Sooner runs in the top of the first inning, Arkansas responded in the bottom of the first with a bang, as Autumn Russell singled and Loren Krzysko doubled. A Tori Cooper single brought them both home to tie the game at two. A Madison Yannetti sac fly brought Cooper home, and gave Arkansas a 3-2 lead.
Oklahoma knotted the game back up in the second as Autumn Storms never really got into a groove in the circle.
The Sooners fourth run came in the fourth inning when Grace Moll gave up a leadoff single, then threw back-to-back wild pitches before throwing another wild pitch en route to a walk to give the Sooners what would ultimately be the winning run. Oklahoma added one more in the sixth for good measure.
Arkansas didn’t go down without a fight, though. Cooper lead off the bottom of the seventh with a single, AJ Belans doubled, and the Razorbacks had the tying run at second with no outs. Oklahoma pitcher Paige Lowary showed why she can be so dominant, though, striking out three straight Razorbacks to give the Sooners the victory.
Ultimately, Arkansas gave Oklahoma too many chances in this game, and the Sooners took advantage.
Arkansas’ season ends at 31-24.
South Carolina 3, St. Francis 1
The South Carolina Gamecocks live on to see Sunday’s Regional action!
The Gamecocks finished their Saturday on a high note, defeating St. Francis 3-1. The win pushes South Carolina to a matchup against Arizona on Sunday night, creating a situation where the Gamecocks have to win what would be a doubleheader against the No. 2 national seed.
Mackenzie Boesel came up big again in the win, socking a two-run homer in the fifth to pad the lead to 3-0 at the time. After going 3-3 at the plate on Friday and 0-3 earlier Saturday, Boesel went 1-3 in the final contest of the day, rounding things out at 4-9 (.444) so far in the tourney. Not too shabby, eh?
Other featured stars included Tiara Duffy and Victoria Williams. Duffy and Williams combined to go 4-6 at the plate on Saturday night, and with Boesel sandwiched between them, the 1-2-3 hitters combined to go 5-9 at the dish.
Jordyn Augustus and Kamryn Watts also collected hits in the win, as the Gamecocks finished the night with seven as a team.
Jessica Elliott came away as the pitcher of record. Elliott pitched 5.2 innings, allowed seven hits and no earned runs, though one came to pass following an error. Elliott was a touch inefficient, as she threw 128 pitches and walked six batters. She did, however, come away with four strikeouts and allowed zero XBH, so you take the good and you take the bad. Nickie Blue pitched the final 1.1 innings, allowing one hit, zero runs, zero walks and struck out two of the five batters she faced.