Early Season Tournament Action

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Like the famous movie series in the early softball season the action is, ‘fast & furious’ as teams play several games in just 3 days. It would be nearly impossible to keep up with all the action with the hundreds of games that happened this first weekend but thanks to school athletic departments and several of the games being broadcast on tv and the internet here’s a recap of some of the opening weekends happenings.

2017 Season Week-1

Texas- UT freshman outfielder Kaitlyn Washington helped the team with her first career at bat against Colorado State when she hit a a two-run home run in the fourth inning of the game. With the 8-0 (5 inn.) win the team now is a perfect 21-0 all-time in season openers. Other hot bats included, Senior third baseman Celina Felix was 1-for-2 with a two-run single in the first inning. Senior designated player Tiarra Davis was 2-for-2 with a run scored. Junior right-hander Paige von Sprecken had a good outing getting the win. Junior Kristen Clark came in for the fifth inning and permitted just one hit and struck out two in her relief role. In the Longhorns next game Erica Wright got the start and seen her first live game action in over a year after being red shirted last season. It wasn’t a strong outing for her you could tell there was lots of rust that needs to be worked out to get back to her freshman form. The sophomore starter allowed two earned runs on two hits with five walks and a pair of strikeouts over 3.0 innings of work. Sophomore transfer pitcher Brooke Bolinger came in the game and done a good job in relief permitting 2 more runs on 4 hits and allowed 3 walks in the 5-2 loss to Minnesota. The games was filled with many offensive mistakes for the longhorns. You could tell it was an early season game. On Saturday Texas lost to Minnesota 11-6. Tiarra Davis got the loss. Paige von Sprecken came in to the game in relief of Davis. Minnesota broke the game open scoring 5 runs in the 7th inning. In their game Saturday night against Maryland the Longhorns offense banged out a season-high 11 hits in their 6 innings 10-2 win. Texas closed out their tournament weekend play with a 7-2 win over Colorado State.

Pitt- The University of Pittsburgh softball team got their 2017 season off to a great start with wins over Kentucky and UCF in the UCF Knights Invitational at UCF Softball Complex in Orlando, Fla. “Today was really fun,” said head coach Holly Aprile. “We played two great games and really played well in every phase of the game. We did a great job, particularly on the mound, where we set a good tone. It was great to be out, to be playing and to play well.” The teams 3-1 win marks the first over a top-25 opponent since Pitt ended No. 21 Notre Dame’s run in the ACC Tournament in 2015. Junior pitcher Kayla Harris got the win holding Kentucky to just five hits, while striking out three. Offensively, Pitt finished with seven hits, three of them came from senior Katlin Manuel. Junior Erin Hershman added two and freshman Hannah Edwards earned her first collegiate hit. Freshman pitcher Brittany Knight, Pitt posted a 6-0 win over UCF in the second game. “I thought Brittany was great,” said Pitt coach Aprile. “She was behind in a few counts but battled back in all of those. She moved the ball well and showed a lot of poise. I am really proud of her. Pitt Sweeps on day two of UCF Knights Invitational The University of Pittsburgh softball team collected two more wins at the UCF Knights Invitational after retiring No. 20 Kentucky for the second time this weekend and taking down Florida A&M Saturday, Feb. 11 at UCF Softball Complex in Orlando, Fla. “We are staying within ourselves and trusting our plan at the plate and also on the mound,” said head coach Holly Aprile. “Our pitchers have done a great job of that.” Pitt defeated Kentucky 6-3, after scoring four runs in the top of the fourth inning with the score tied 2-2. Junior pitcher Kayla Harris threw 5.0 innings in her second start for the Panthers against the Wildcats, striking out three. Harris is now 2-0 on the season, while freshman Brittany Knight earned her first save of her Pitt career. Junior Giorgiana Zeremenko came away as Pitt’s big bat, recording three RBIs on one hit and a sacrifice fly. Five other Panthers also recorded a single hit, while three had a solo RBI. Senior Kaitlin Manuel produced Pitt’s first home run of the season, a solo shot to right field. In game 2 it was, Pitt 5, Florida A&M 2. Knight also started game two with sophomore Sarah Dawson replacing Knight in the middle of the sixth after being hit with a line drive in the shin. The University of Pittsburgh softball team ended the UCF Knights Invitational on a high note, defeating the host team 6-3 in eight innings of play at UCF Softball in Orlando, Fla. The Panthers ended their opening weekend with a perfect 5-0 record. UP NEXT Pitt will participate in the ACC / Big 10 Challenge, February 17-19 at Florida State’s JoAnne Graf Field in Tallahassee, Fla. The Panthers will face Nebraska and Northwestern in the challenge and play four games, two against each team. Pitt will not take on the Seminoles, as they will just serve as the host team.

Tennessee- The Volunteers opened their 2017 with a doubleheader against Tennessee Tech and Middle Tennessee at the Eagle Round Robin in Statesboro, Ga. Freshman pitcher Caylan Arnold was dominant in her Tennessee debut and Meghan Gregg lead the offense with three hits and five RBIs to help lead the team to a 10-0 run-rule victory over Tennessee Tech in the 2017 season opener. Arnold pitched five scoreless innings, getting five strikeouts in her collegiate debut. UT improved to 21-0 all-time against the Eagles. The win improved Tennessee to 13-3 in season openers under Ralph Weekly and Karen Weekly. Tennessee completed its doubleheader sweep on opening day with a 4-0 victory over Middle Tennessee. Matty Moss went the distance to earn her first win of 2017, allowing just three hits while striking out five in a shutout effort. The win extended the Volunteers’ win streak over in-state opponents to 90 consecutive games. Tennessee remained perfect on the year with a 7-1 victory over UNC Greensboro on Friday afternoon at the Eagle Round Robin. Megan Geer went 2-for-3 with three RBIs to lead the offense while freshman pitcher Caylan Arnold was stellar again in the circle for the second straight day to earn her second win of the year. Arnold pitched six innings giving up just one unearned run and striking out six on her way to a perfect 2-0 record on the year. Tennessee scored early and often en route to a 13-2 rout of Georgia Southern on Saturday evening at the Eagle Round Robin. Sophomore pitcher Matty Moss was one out away from throwing her first-career no-hitter and Meghan Gregg continued her hot streak at the plate with a four-RBI performance to lead the offense. Moss had her no-hitter broken up by pinch hitter Mekhia Freeman with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Freeman singled to left field to drive in a run and another came around to score on a throwing error to end Moss’ shutout bid as well. Gregg drove in all four of her runs during a nine-run third inning where she batted twice. Her second at-bat of the inning was a three-run homer that gave Tennessee a 13-0 lead. Brooke Vines also had a big game with two hits and a pair of RBIs. Tennessee powered its way to a 13-1 victory over UNC Greensboro on Sunday to finish the Eagle Round Robin with a perfect 5-0 record. The Volunteers scored in all five innings to earn their third run-rule victory this year. Next Tennessee heads out west next weekend for the Troy Cox Classic in Las Cruces, N.M. The Vols will play five games with matchups against DePaul, Bradley, Northern Colorado, Oregon State and New Mexico State.

South Carolina- The team opened 2017 by Hosting the Carolina Classic at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.The Gamecocks beat Ohio 10-0 (5) with junior player Krystan White getting four RBIs on a home run and a double in the victory. Senior pitcher Jessica Elliott (1-0) posted a five-inning shutout giving up just three hits and two walks while striking out five batters. In their second game the teams winning ways continued with them defeating Presbyterian 8-0 in five innings. Gamecocks freshman Cayla Drotar posted a one-hitter in her first start striking out six and walking only one. The team pounded out six-runs in the first inning thanks in part to triples by freshman Mackenzie Boesel and senior Victoria Williams. Head coach Beverly Smith said about the two wins, “It was a great feeling (to get two convincing wins). I thought our team played very well in both games. I told them before the game I wanted to see the team that’s been at practice. The good news is that what they looked like today is what we’ve seen in practice. I was thrilled, from the gritty at-bats to the good pitching and defense. It was all around a great effort.” The Gamecocks got a third-straight shutout beating Longwood 1-0 (9). Junior Tiara Duffy doubled to lead off the ninth, stole third and scored on an errant throw to end the game. Senior Nickie Blue pitched a strong game striking out five while only allowing five base runners (two walks, three hits) in the win. For the second time in as many days the South Carolina softball team rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the seventh to down Charlotte 2-1 Sunday afternoon. Mackenzie Boesel brought home Kennedy Clark for the winning run, helping the Gamecocks stave off a no-hitter through 6.1 innings by 49ers pitcher Haley Wiseman. The team is now 5-0.

Florida- The Gators started their 2017 season with the USF Wilson – DeMarini Tournament. Senior left-handed pitcher
Delanie Gourley took the win over Illinois State 9-0 in 5 innings. She struckout 12 of the 16 batters she faced in the game. Juniors Kayli Kvistad and Janell Wheaton provided the needed offense in the game. Senior Chelsea Herndon also added a solo home run and Jordan Roberts nearly made it three consecutive home runs with a double that hit off the top of the wall in right center field. Head coach Walton when asked about setting the tone early in the first game of the season he answered: “You know, you preach that to the team and Delanie just came out and set the tone for us right away and it was really just a good quick tempo. I thought we responded obviously with the three hits in a row but we really just got after it early.” Florida picked up a pair of quality victories over No. 6-ranked Michigan and St. John’s on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the USF Softball Stadium. The team battled to a 5-2 victory over the Red Storm in the first game of the day then fought its way to a 2-1 win over the Wolverines in 10 innings. The Gators jumped out to lead first in each game but found that it was going to be much tougher of a day than yesterday’s opening day 9-0 victory over Illinois State. The combination of sophomore Kelly Barnhill and senior Delanie Gourley (2-0) gave Florida the depth and the edge to defeat Michigan’s Megan Betsa. Barnhill tossed seven full innings before she handed the ball off to Gourley who tossed the remaining three; Betsa tossed all 10 for the Wolverines as she threw 190 pitches on the day. The Gators won their third consecutive game against the Wolverines and now lead the all-time series 10-9 and have won 10 out of the last 12 meetings. Against St. John’s sophomore Amanda Lorenz struck first with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning to score senior leadoff batter Justine McLean and put Florida ahead 2-0. Aleshia Ocasio (1-0) and the Gators defense worked through the Red Storm’s lineup only to give up a hit through the first four innings of play. However, St. John’s railed in the fifth to post a pair of hits and two runs. Ocasio finished the complete-game effort as she retired the Red Storm side in order. A pair of extraordinary efforts in the circle by Katie Chronister and Kelly Barnhill helped propel Florida to a doubleheader sweep of Delaware 9-0 and USF at the USF Softball Stadium. The Gators will hit the road one more time before the team hosts the Aquafina Invitational on Feb. 17-19 at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Florida will take on Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla. for a solo contest scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Debbie & Fred Pruitt Softball Complex.

Ole Miss- Ole Miss softball opened their new season at the Easton Invitational. The Rebels shutout LMU and rain
canceled their scheduled game vs. Cal State Fullerton. Ole Miss softball shutout Loyola Marymount, 2-0 with junior
Kaitlin Lee allowing just one hit in the win. Through the first four innings she didn’t allow any base runners to reach base. Offensively, the Rebels strung together nine hits including two each from Elantra Cox, Kylan Becker and Miranda Strother. Brittany Finney, Kaylee Horton and Alex Schneider also tallied one hit each, while Paige McKinney entered as a pinch runner and scored once. The Rebel softball team split its Saturday games at the Easton Invitational, shutting out Pacific, 9-0, before falling to North Dakota State, 1-0, in a pitchers’ duel at Anderson Family Field. In game one of the day, the Rebels strung together 11 hits and put together an 8-run fourth inning to top the Tigers. In the third game of the weekend, the North Dakota State Bison scored a single run late to steal the victory. In her collegiate debut, Morgan Bruce allowed just one unearned run off three hits leading the Ole Miss Softball team to an 8-1 victory over Loyola Marymount Sunday in the final game of the Easton Invitational.

Texas A&M- Texas A&M softball opened the 2017 season hosting Central Michigan, Lamar and Ohio State at the Aggie Classic at the Aggie Softball Complex. The team used a 6th inning rally to defeat Lamar, 2-1. Junior Tori Vidales, sophomore Samantha Show and sophomore Kaitlyn Alderink lead the team offensively. Samantha Show picked up the victory in the pitching circle. On the win head coach Jo Evans said, “I am happy with the win. We came in here knowing that Lamar fights. Their head coach does a great job with them. They reflect her confidence and enthusiasm in the way they play the game. They took advantage of the opportunity we gave them in the fourth inning and I thought their pitcher did a nice job. She went out and threw well. We were fortunate to get away with one tonight. Texas A&M softball team swept day two of the Aggie Classic on Saturday, defeating Central Michigan, 8-5, and Ohio State, 9-1, at the Aggie Softball Complex. Sophomore Samantha Show earned the win to move to 2-0 on the year. The East Bernard, Texas, native threw three innings of relief, giving up only one hit with five strikeouts. Freshman Payton McBride earned her first start of her career and threw four innings with four strikeouts. In game two junior Lexi Smith earned a win in her first career start, pitching all five inning while giving up five hits and four strikeouts. Texas A&M softball team knocked off Lamar, 3-2, Sunday afternoon at the Aggie Softball Complex to close out the Aggie Classic with a perfect 4-0 record. Junior Trinity Harrington notched her first win of the season, throwing six innings while
allowing only four hits with a strikeout. Sophomore Samantha Show closed out the game allowing only one base runner on a walk in the 7th inning. The Aggies return to action Wednesday at home against Sam Houston State at 6 p.m.

Ragin Cajuns- Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns softball kicked off a season-opening 23-game homestand and play in the 31st Annual Louisiana Classics at Lamson Park on Friday with a pair of 9-1 victories over DePaul and Iowa State. Pitcher Alex Stewart held DePaul to one hit over five innings. In the nightcap, freshman pitcher Alyssa Denham made her collegiate debut in the circle and surrendered only one hit over six innings of work against Iowa State in the win. Saturday’s NCAA softball contest ended with Louisiana 4 and DePaul 3. Sunday’s NCAA Softball contests between Louisiana and Southern Miss at Lamson Park in Lafayette, La. the final scores were, Southern Miss 4, Louisiana 3 (Game 1) and Southern Miss 5, Louisiana 3 (Game 2). Next up Friday-Sunday, Feb. 17-19 vs. No. 7 Alabama.

Auburn- Tigers Defeat No. 1 Oklahoma, Fall to No. 13 Washington. Kendall Veach blasted two home runs to guide No. 2 Auburn to a 3-2 victory against No. 1 Oklahoma Thursday afternoon. Makayla Martin earned the start in the circle and went 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs. Martin induced 13 groundouts on the day and picked up her first win of 2017. Martin dominated from the start and allowed just two to reach base for Oklahoma (0-1) in the opening four stanzas. Kaylee Carlson then came on in relief and struck out the final two batters to send Auburn to victory, picking up her third career save. Playing in the nightcap of a two-game day, the Tigers dropped a 2-1 decision to No. 13 Washington in 10 innings. Auburn (1-1) was held to just four hits on offense as Victoria Draper, Courtney Shea, Kendall Veach and Carlee Wallace. In the circle, Kaylee Carlson made her first start of the season and went 8.0 innings, allowing just one earned run and striking out three. Makayla Martin tossed 2.0 innings in relief. Auburn softball team got back to its winning ways when it took a 3-2 win over Nebraska Friday afternoon. The Tigers totaled nine hits at the plate and capitalized on two Nebraska errors. Kaylee Carlson went the distance in the circle and worked around nine hits, allowing two earned runs and racking up a strikeout, en route to the win. Makayla Martin threw a complete-game shutout to send No. 2 Auburn to a 3-0 win against BYU Saturday. The Tigers were limited to just three hits offensively. “We got a dominant performance out of Makayla Martin today,” said head coach Clint Myers. “She was outstanding. She challenged the hitters. For the most part, we played pretty good defense.” The Tigers return back tothe United States and will entertain 21-straight games at Jane B. Moore Field, beginning with the home opener against SIUE, Thursday, Feb. 16 at 6 p.m. The Ragin’ Cajuns Softball staged a pair of late-inning comebacks to capture wins over DePaul and Ball State on Saturday in the 31st Annual Louisiana Classics at Lamson Park. A 4-3 win over DePaul in the opener and 5-3 over Ball State.

Mizzou- Mizzou Softball opened its 2017 campaign on Friday with a doubleheader split against No. 14 James Madison and Charleston Southern. James Madison silenced the Tigers in game one, earning a 6-0 shutout triumph. Mizzou rebounded nicely in game two, delivering a comeback 4-3 win against the host Buccaneers. Megan Good, continued to stymie Mizzou’s bats through the opening half of the game. In game two redshirt sophomore Madi Norman entered in relief for Conrad in the fourth and produced 3.1 shutout innings to lock down the Buccaneers lineup. Norman’s stellar work in the circle paved the way for Mizzou’s first comeback win of the year. Mizzou Softball earned two victories on Saturday at the Charleston Southern Tournament, highlighted by an 8-4 victory against No. 14 James Madison. Following their payback win against the Dukes, the Tigers closed the afternoon’s doubleheader sweep with a 3-0 shutout triumph over Charleston Southern. Senior Kirsten Mack (Riverside, Calif.) and sophomore Rylee Pierce produced Mizzou’s first home runs of the season with blasts in the first and third inning, respectively. Mack’s two-run home run in the first set the tone for the Tigers, as they tallied a season-best eight runs. In the circle, freshman Parker Conrad got her first career win after allowing zero earned runs over 4.0 innings.Sophomore Danielle Baumgartner and redshirt sophomore Madi Norman tossed the final three innings in relief. Mizzou and Charleston Southern competed in another closely contested ballgame. The Tigers’ stellar pitching ultimately reigned supreme against the Buccaneers, as senior Cheyenne Baxter and Norman combined for the team’s first shutout victory of the year. Baxter was sensational in her first start of the year, allowing only four hits over 5.1 scoreless innings. Norman entered in relief in the sixth inning, shutting down Charleston Southern’s lineup en route to her first career save. Mizzou Softball (4-1) improved its early-season winning streak to four games, as it escaped with a 1-0 victory over USC Upstate in the Charleston Southern Tournament finale. Redshirt sophomore Madi Norman (Tipton, Mo.) was simply sensational in the circle, tossing a complete game shutout. Mizzou’s early-season tournament schedule continues from Feb. 17-19 at the Arizona State Littlewood Classic. The Tigers will play five games over three days in Tempe, Ariz. Mizzou is set for a doubleheader in its Littlewood Classic opener, meeting South Dakota and Illinois State on Friday, Feb. 17.

Alabama- Junior pitcher Alexis Osorio got the Tide’s season off to a flying colors start pitching the 4th perfect game in school history against Towson (17-0). She also recorded a school-record high 19 strikeouts. Hot offensively for Alabama was Peyton Grantham and Demi Turner.

SEC Standings:

Alabama 5-0
Florida 5-0
Georgia 5-0
Tennessee 5-0
South Carolina 5-0
Arkansas 4-0
Texas A&M 4-0
LSU 4-1
Missouri 4-1
Auburn 3-1
Ole Miss 3-1
Kentucky 3-2
Mississippi State 3-2

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