SEC Tournament Semi-Final Recap
Jason Pattyson // Sports Reporter // @thejpattyson
South Carolina Vs Auburn
South Carolina shocks Auburn To earn a trip to Championship Saturday.
10 seed South Carolina continued their dream run in the SEC Tournament with a late-inning comeback victory against 3-seed Auburn 3-2 to advance to the SEC Championship game on Saturday at Bogle Park.
In the first Semi-final game of the day, South Carolina capitalized on a throwing error by third baseman Denver Bryant that allowed Zoe Laneaux to score from first base for an early 1-0 lead in the first inning.
Auburn did not waste any time to even the game up in the second inning. Makayla Packer laced a ground ball just past the outstretched glove of shortstop Brooke Blankenship. That allowed pinch runner Skylar Elkins to score from first base on a fielding error by the left fielder Marissa Gonzalez. Gonzalez misplayed the ball, which rolled under her glove to the wall in left field. Elkin’s speed allowed her to even the score at one run each.
“I’d like to credit our pitching staff to holding down a tough Auburn offense,” said South Carolina coach Beverly Smith. “I think that’s a gritty part if we can string it together. And we just talk about the ability to have timely hits, capitalize on things that we can have a hit by batter or walk.”
Second baseman Rose Roach stepped up to the plate next, she hammered a 2-1 pitch to deep right-center field that nearly bounced over the wall. Packer scored from second base quickly and gave Auburn their first lead, 2-1.
Auburn pitchers Maddie Penta and Shelby Lowe gave up only three hits Friday afternoon. The only problem was Carolina made them pay with each walk and hit they recorded. They combined to strike out eight batters and walked four.
South Carolina had some magic up their sleeves in the top of the seventh inning. Jordan Fabian came up to the plate with two out. I was looking just to put the ball in play or hit a ground ball; she said post-game. She sent a hard-hit fly out to the left-center field to give the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead, which was the game-winner.
“I very rarely think the ball is going to go out right off of that. But, I had a good feeling about that one from the start”, said Fabian about her game-winning home run.
Carolina pitcher Donnie Gobourne came into the game with two outs in the fourth inning. She would finish the game and collect her 13th win of the season. Gobourne struck out six batters, walked two, and gave up no runs in the win.
Auburn fought to keep their tournament dreams alive in the bottom of the seventh inning. Third baseman Denver Bryant drew a walk and fired up the Tiger bench as she took her base. Gobourne would retire the next three batters in order to hold on for the win and secure a spot for them in Saturday’s Championship game.
Tennessee Vs Alabama
Tennessee used the long ball to put away Alabama to move on to the conference final.
Tennessee used the long ball to end Alabama‘s tournament run with a 7-6 victory in the second Semi-final game Friday night at Bogle Park.
On Thursday, Tennessee and Alabama were tested and played close, low-scoring games in the Quarterfinals. Well, that all changed Friday night at Bogle Park.
The bats made solid contact, and the ball flew all over the yard in the first inning. Both teams put up four runs in the first inning to start the game.
Alabama plated the first four batters with two singles and drew two walks to start the game. They tagged reigning Freshman of the Year Karlyn Pickens early and knocked her out of the game after not recording an out, giving up four runs off of two hits on 21 pitches.
“I put the take on early. And I don’t know what she, she walked three,” said Alabama head coach Patrick Murphy. “You know, she’s a really good pitcher. She’s Freshman of the year, correct? And didn’t get an out. So that’s a feather in our cap and something that we need to take with us and not hold our heads.”
Tennessee would respond in a big way. The Vols would score four runs in a row themselves with two outs when Lair Beautae crushed an Alex Salter pitch over the left-center field wall to tie the game at 4-4.
“The way it went and then the way we bounced back. I’m just really proud of our tea,” said Tennessee head coach Karen Weekly. “I mean, Alabama’s a great opponent. And anytime you play them, whether it’s the regular season or in the tournament, you know it’s going to be a heck of a ball game.”
Alabama would change pitchers, too, as Salter would last two innings after she gave up three hits and five runs on her day in the circle. Jaala Torrance would calm the Tidewaters until the fourth inning.
Tennessee would tack on a home run by Kiki Malloy in the second inning that would send Salter packing. The Vols continued their offensive barrage, and Katie Taylor got just enough of the bat on a ball barely crossing over the center field wall for a two-run home run and extended the Volunteer lead, 7-4.
The Crimson Tide had an answer to the Vols’ powerful bats. Ashley Prangle crushed a Gottshall offering over the left field wall, leaving no doubt in Bogle that it wouldn’t stay in the yard. Larissa Preuitt scored on the play and closed the scoring gap to a run, and Tennessee still led 7-6.
“I think you’ve got two teams that are playing really good softball right now. We’re going to have to get good swings off. When they put pitches over the plate, we have to get good swings off, and that’s the thing I didn’t feel like we did as well last weekend”, Weekly said post-game.
Tennessee faced South Carolina in the SEC Tournament final on Championship Saturday.