Although a number of lower-seeded teams were victorious on Thursday at the SEC Tournament Day 2, the surprising parts of the day’s results were the scores themselves, rather than the teams that came out on top.
Here’s a closer look…
Georgia 4, Arkansas 1
In the day’s opener, the final game from what was originally scheduled as Wednesday’s opening set of matchups, Georgia recorded a 4-1 win over Arkansas. The Bulldogs’ Kylie Bass threw a complete-game 2-hitter, stifling the Arkansas offense and tacking Arkansas’ Autumn Storms with just her seventh loss of the season.
In addition to the two hits, Bass allowed just one run, a solo home run by the Hogs' Ashley Diaz in the third inning. The Bulldogs offense saw seven starters collect hits in the game, including a double from Alyssa DiCarlo and RBI singles from Alysen Febrey and Savana Sikes.
Ole Miss 9, Mississippi State 4
In an Egg Bowl rematch in game two of the day, in-state rivals Ole Miss and Mississippi State faced off for the fourth time this season, after playing a three-game series against one another in the regular season. Ole Miss took the season series 2-1, and were once-again the victors on Thursday, riding the sails of a 7-run fourth inning to earn the 9-4 victory.
Molly Jacobsen didn’t have her best stuff in the circle for the Rebels, but Brittany Finney was effective in relief, throwing five innings of five-hit, one-run ball to record the victory in the circle. Finney struck out three, added a single and a walk on offense, and fielded her position well.
After the game, Rebels head coach Mike Smith was first asked about winning the game, despite being outhit 12-4. "They got 12 hits and we got four, but they walked us eight times and we capitalized," Smith said. "Good teams do that. Good teams capitalize when they want to give us free bases."
Smith also noted Finney’s effectiveness in the circle, noting, “I really thought the turning point in the game was the inning when we brought Brittany Finney into the ball game. We got bases loaded and she got out of that big jam. That could have easily deflated our sails even more, and that was a big inning for us."
Florida 3, LSU 0
As the rain continued to hold off, moving largely to the south of College Station and Davis Diamond, there were no delays even going into the third game of the day, between Florida and LSU. The Gators were coming off of a walk-off, come-from-behind victory over South Carolina on Wednesday night, while LSU was seeing the field for the first time in the tournament.
It was a pitcher's duel for much of the game, with three early runs proving the difference in the game. LSU threw sophomore Shelbi Sunseri, who allowed the trio of Gator runs in the first two innings, but pitched effectively throughout the night, allowing just five hits in the complete-game loss.
Florida’s Kelly Barnhill - after not appearing in her team’s come-from-behind win over South Carolina - was as good as ever, throwing a one-hit shutout and collecting seven strikeouts. The top of the lineup came through for the Gators, with Amanda Lorenz, Kendyl Lindaman, and Jordan Roberts all collecting RBIs.
Auburn 2, Tennessee 0
Game four of the day saw #2-seeded Tennessee take on Auburn, another team that pulled off a surprising win on opening day, with a shutout defeat over Missouri. Just one day later, the Tigers pulled off a particularly similar performance, shutting out the Lady Vols in a 3-0 victory.
For the second night in a row, Auburn’s pitching came through for them, as Ashlee Swindle pitched a 5-hit shutout, collecting four strikeouts along the way. In his postgame press conference, Auburn head coach Mickey Dean talked about Swindle’s effectiveness in the circle, saying, “Really, from that fourth inning on, [Swindle] really started attacking hitters, and she kept her pitch count way down…”
During the game, Tennessee challenged a play at the plate where Lady Vols pinch runner Treasuary Poindexter was called out. With instant replay in place for the SEC tournament, and with potential scoring plays allowed under the limited scope of review, Ralph and Karen Weekly elected to challenge the play. The call of out was upheld after review, leaving some to wonder why Tennessee had used their challenge on what seemed to be an obvious call.
In her postgame press conference, Karen Weekly put those thoughts to rest. “I think we wanted to use the replay challenge since we had it,” Weekly said, adding that Poindexter returned to the dugout saying she got under the tag.
Alabama 2, Georgia 1
The day’s finale - Game #5, if you’re counting them - saw the Georgia Bulldogs take the diamond for the second time in twelve hours, as they faced off against #1 seeded Alabama. In their first showing of the SEC tournament, the Crimson Tide sent freshman ace Montana Fouts to the circle, while Georgia countered with Mary Wilson Avant.
Each team scored a single run in the fourth inning, after Alysen Febrey drove in Alyssa DiCarlo in the top half of the inning, and Alabama tied the game in the bottom half with a bases-loaded walk to freshman Skylar Wallace.
The score stayed tied through regulation and sent the game into extra innings. After Fouts set the Dawgs down in the top of the eighth inning, the freshman Wallace led off the inning for the Tide. With a stout wind blowing straight in, Wallace hit a moonshot over the ESPN studio set in right-center field to give her team the walk-off victory with a 2-1 final score.
An interesting happening in the game was Alabama pitcher Montana Fouts being called for a number of illegal pitches. An added wrinkle to the calls was that third base umpire Danny Bowman was also a part of the umpiring crew that called the Georgia/Ole Miss series at the end of the regular season, where nearly two dozen illegal pitches were called against Ole Miss, sparking much controversy.