Stay tuned with us all afternoon and evening, as we’ll be recapping and updating you with the scores from Day 1 of the 2018 SEC Softball Tournament!
MISSISSIPPI STATE 2, TEXAS A&M 0
You couldn’t complain about pace-of-play in this contest. The first game of the SEC Softball Tournament whizzed by, and in the end, Mississippi State came out on top.
State defeated 13th-ranked Texas A&M 2-0 to advance to Thursday’s Quarterfinals. The Aggies’ season is over for now, but we will certainly see them play in the NCAA Tournament, which of course starts very soon.
We had to wait a little while for runs to get on the board. Both teams’ offenses were stymied by terrific pitching, as Trinity Harrington and Holly Ward were excellent in the circle. Harrington threw seven innings and allowed the aforementioned two runs to come across. Harrington also posted four strikeouts, a walk and allowed just three hits, with only one going for extra bases.
Ward, meanwhile, a complete game shutout, allowing only three hits in the ballgame. She threw four strikeouts, striking out the side in the final inning. While she had four walks, she still was able to prevent runs from scoring.
It was the 18th shutout of the season, a new program record, having been tied with the 1998 Bulldogs with 17 going into Wednesday’s game.
Morgan Bell clubbed the first run across with an RBI double in the 6th inning. Bell, unfortunately, got banged up afterwards and had to be removed for a pinch runner. That pinch runner, Macey Patrey, later scored on an RBI single by Reggie Harrison. That sequence was all that MSU needed to help secure what was their first SEC Tournament win since 2005.
Mississippi State will play 3rd-seeded South Carolina in the Quarterfinals on Thursday now.
ARKANSAS 3, KENTUCKY 1
Kentucky finished the season with the 3rd-best batting average out of all 13 teams in the conference. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, their offense would only amass six hits in their 2018 SEC Tournament opener. More importantly, they scratched across just one run, as the Arkansas Razorbacks triumphed over the Wildcats with a 3-1 result.
Kentucky put the first run on the board in the 2nd inning. It came off the bat of Lauren Johnson, who smacked her first-career homer. And what a time to do it. However, things would quickly unravel. In the 3rd inning, Autumn Buczek reached on a fielder’s choice, which allowed for star Razorback Hannah McEwen to come in to score. Buczek would then later score on a wild pitch to give the Hogs a 2-1 lead.
Later on in the 6th, Arkansas tacked on insurance in the form of an oopsie by Kentucky. A throwing error by Katie Reed led to Carley Haizlip scoring to make it 3-1.
Kentucky threatened in the final stanza, putting two on for Abbey Cheek with two outs. However, after drawing a walk, Reed was caught in a rundown and was tagged out when she tried to make it back to 1st base for the final out of the game.
Both teams are no doubt bound for the NCAA Tournament. But this is obviously a huge win for Arkansas from a program perspective. It’s their first tourney victory in 17 years, and they’ll look to earn a second one on Thursday when they face the Georgia Bulldogs in the Quarterfinals.
LSU 4, OLE MISS 1
-- by Zach Remelius
One swing of the bat was all the difference, as 13th-ranked LSU knocked out Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
All the offense that was provided to Tigers pitcher Allie Walljasper came in the second inning. First baseman Amanda Doyle led off with a single. After Ole Miss pitcher Kaitlin Lee came back to get Shemiah Sanchez to fly out to left, trouble started to brew. Rebels shortstop Paige McKinney made an error on a ball hit by Shelby Sunseri to put runners on first and second. Another single by Amber Serrett brought catcher Michaela Schlattman to the plate. Schlattman proceeded to blast a grand slam to centerfield to quickly put the Tigers up 4-0
The Rebels had their chances to battle back, as they put two on with one out in the top of the 4th. After a fielder’s choice put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs, designated player Abbey Latham connected with a singleto bring one run home and brought the tying run to the plate. However, Walljasper was able to get a ground ball from Amanda Roth to put out the threat.
Defense helped Walljasper out in the 5th as the first two Rebels got on base and were put into scoring position after a bunt. Left fielder Elantra Cox hit a fly ball to center and Kaylee Horton tagged from third. But she was promptly thrown out at the plate by LSU centerfielder Emily Griggs.
The Rebels weren’t able to provide much offense other than that, only totaling one hit in the other five innings of play. Kaitlin Lee battled for Ole Miss, pitching in all six innings she was able to, and also only gave up six hits while giving up three earned runs to finish her league play with a record of 16-12. Walljasper was perfect through three and after giving up some scoring chances in the middle innings, she shut it down, giving up one run on six hits with five strikeouts.
LSU moves on to the second round to play Tennessee on Thursday.
ALABAMA 6, AUBURN 4
-- by Niesha Middlebrooks
The Alabama Crimson Tide skidded by the Auburn Tigers, eliminating them in Round 1 of the SEC Tournament play with a 6-4 victory.
The Crimson Tide bats were led by Bailey Hemphill and Elissa Brown. Hemphill hit her 13th homer with RBIs, while Brown hit a double with two RBIs in the victory. Madison Preston got the win in the pitching circle. She pitched two innings, allowed one walk and struck out one. Alexis Osorio got the save in this game, pitching 4.2 innings, allowing three hits, four runs, walking seven and striking out seven.
For Auburn, Casey McCrackin led the team offensively with her 8th home run of the season and two RBI. Alyssa Rivera also contributed with two RBI as well. Makayla Martin took the loss as she allowed two hits, two runs, and two walks.
Alabama will go on to play No. 4 Florida in the Quarterfinals on Thursday night.