Daily Dozen: Saturday, May 7thTop Stories
1. Utah earns first ever series win over Washington. The Utes have had to fight hard to earn respect since joining the Pac-12. Saturday, they certainly added another notch to their belt. After Utah jumped out in front of the Huskies for the second straight day with a run in the first inning, a Pat Moore single finally pulled the Huskies level in the sixth. The Utes didn’t flinch. A double and two hit batters loaded the bases for Halle Morris in the bottom of the seventh inning. She hit a grounder to Baylee Klingler, who couldn’t cut the winning run down at home. Utah’s 4-3 win not only made program history, but boosted its postseason hopes. The Utes will see their RPI improve in the next update, and they only need one win from their final four games to ensure a .500 record to be eligible for an at-large bid.
2. Jocelyn Alo has her Bedlam moment. It certainly wasn’t Alo’s final game in Norman. But at least until the NCAA bracket comes out next Sunday for a team sure to host a regional and any super regional, it was her last scheduled game at Marita Hynes Field. And in her final at-bat, she lowered the boom – or maybe the Boomer Sooner – one more time. Alo’s grand slam off Kelly Maxwell turned around a 2-1 deficit and propelled No. 1 Oklahoma to a 5-3 victory against No. 6 Oklahoma State and a Bedlam sweep. Alo had just one home run this season against left-handed pitching (the Sooners haven’t faced much of it), and she struck out looking in her first two at-bats against one of the nation’s best southpaws. But on an 0-2 count, she drove her 24th home run to the opposite field, just beyond Chyenne Factor’s glove. The Sooners are never shy about expressing their joy, but Alo’s pinwheeling arms and the leaping mass of humanity at the plate told you what the moment meant.
The sweep doesn’t help Oklahoma State’s hopes of hosting a super regional, but they didn’t have the worst day for a Big 12 hosting hopeful. That belonged to No. 14 Texas, which auditioned for regional hosting duties by giving up 17 runs against Baylor.
3. Bruins bounce back in a big way. Briana Perez and Delanie Wisz have carried the UCLA offense for most of Pac-12 play. That didn’t change on Saturday. Not only did the duo hit back-to-back bombs in the fourth inning against Arizona State, they combined to go 6 for 9 with seven RBIs. For the full recap of UCLA’s 9-3 win, check out Brady’s Breakdown.
4. FGCU stuns Florida. First, let’s celebrate Cana Davis, Ally Hulme and FGCU. Just 16-33 entering the day, the Eagles went to Gainesville and beat No. 12 Florida 3-2. It was their second ever win against Florida. As it turned out, FGCU’s season ended Saturday – the help needed to qualify for next week’s Atlantic Sun tournament didn’t materialize. But the Eagles went out fighting, including a home run and RBI single from Davis in her final college game (and although Tim Walton handled it with remarkable zen, she also gave coaches one more reason to dislike the in-game interview, as evidenced below). In the circle, Hulme loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh. But after coach David Deiros left her in to finish what she started, she retired Skylar Wallace and Charla Echols for the final two outs.
FGCU also dealt the Gators a setback that could limit the postseason home schedule in Gainesville. Entering the weekend, the teams ahead of Florida in the RPI were 92-1 against opponents outside the top 100. It’s not an entry a team wants to catch the committee’s eye. It’s doubly bad for Florida, because the lone loss in that example – Oklahoma State’s loss at UT Arlington – was a possible trump card for the Gators in a comparison with the Cowgirls. The final top-eight seed is still likely to come down to the wire. And Florida still has a chance to enhance its resume in the SEC Tournament. This isn’t done. But Saturday is about as costly a scenario as a team could encounter this time of year.
5. Alabama snaps Missouri’s win streak, evens series. There were plenty of runners in scoring position between Alabama and Missouri on Saturday, but few runs actually scored at Rhoads Stadium. Abby Doerr finally changed that with her two-out, two-run single in the sixth inning as Alabama beat Missouri 3-1 to snap Missouri’s eight-game winning streak and even the series. Missouri left 12 runners on base and Alabama stranded three. Redshirt freshman Alex Salter got her first SEC start in the circle for the Tide, with Lexi Kilfoyl listed as “day to day.” Salter was up for the challenge. She went 4.1 innings, allowing just one earned run on seven hits. Kendyll Bailey delivered the lone run for Mizzou on a home run in the first inning. Bailey Dowling answered right back for the Tide, with an RBI double in the bottom half. Laurin Krings kept Alabama off the scoreboard until giving up the double to Doerr. Montana Fouts relieved Salter in the fifth inning and escaped a bases-loaded jam with help from a great defensive play by Ashley Prange at third to get the lead runner at home for the second out. After Mizzou’s Kim Wert drew her third walk of the game, Fouts struck out the side in the seventh to secure the win. It made for a much happier Hall of Fame ceremony for Patrick Murphy. A few hours after the win, the Tide head coach became the first person from the sport of softball inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
6. This catch was easier than Oregon’s path to hosting. Oregon’s hopes of hosting a regional are holding on by a filament, but they survive for at least another day after the Ducks leveled their series at Stanford with a 5-1 victory. The game showed just how much of a difference a healthy Terra McGown can make, as the catcher went 3 for 4 to boost her average to .440 this season – including a team-high .396 in conference play. But who are we kidding? Oregon makes this list primarily because we need the excuse to keep watching Paige Sinicki’s catch.
7. UCF claims at least a share of the American Athletic title. Kennedy Searcy isn’t the biggest name on a roster that includes the likes of Jada Cody and Gianna Mancha. But if No. 19 UCF wins the outright AAC regular season title Sunday, Searcy will have had as much of a hand in the success as anyone. Saturday, the sophomore’s two-run single in the eighth inning propelled her team to a 3-1 victory at No. 24 Wichita State. That leveled the series and leaves UCF a game ahead of the Shockers in the standings entering Sunday’s finale. The winner earns the No. 1 seed in next week’s tournament. You might remember Searcy as the player whose home run off USF’s Georgina Corrick ignited a sweep in UCF’s other pivotal conference series in March. On Saturday, Knights starter Kama Woodall made sure her teammates had time to find the necessary runs. The right-hander matched a career high with eight strikeouts, including two strikeouts against national batting champ contender Sydney McKinney.
- The SoCon race culminates in a winner-take-all finale Sunday. UNCG and Samford split a doubleheader in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday, leaving them tied. One of the nation’s most prolific power teams, UNCG lived up to the billing with three home runs against Samford freshman ace and 20-game winner McKenzie Newcomb in the opener. But full credit to Samford No. 2 Jordyn Partain, who tamed UNCG with a four-hit shutout in the nightcap.
8. Arkansas, Kentucky bounce back. After getting upset in the opening games of their respective series on the road to the two teams at the bottom of the SEC standings, Arkansas and Kentucky returned to form in Game 2. Kentucky beat South Carolina 11-1 and Arkansas beat Texas A&M 7-3. Both teams used the long ball to get revenge. Kentucky got a grand slam from Renee Abernathy, a solo shot from Emmy Blane and a three-run homer from Tatum Spangler, who also went the distance in the circle for the Wildcats. Arkansas scored all of its runs on home runs. Hannah Gammill hit a solo shot and KB Sides, Danielle Gibson and Linnie Malkin all crushed two-run home runs. In the process, the Hogs set a single-season program record with 96 home runs. They were the second SEC program to set a single-season home run record on Saturday. Georgia tallied home run No. 100 on a grand slam by Jayda Kearney in the bottom of the seventh – Kearney’s second HR of the day – but it wasn’t enough in a 10-8 loss to Ole Miss.
9. Boston University wins the Patriot League but loses its 27-game winning streak. Owners of the nation’s longest active winning streak when the day began, Boston University wasted no time clinching the Patriot League regular season title with a 5-0 victory against second-place Lehigh in the first game of a doubleheader. The added bonus is that means the Terriers will host next week’s four-team conference tournament. With a five-hit shutout, Allison Boaz improved to 20-6 this season – the 21st pitcher to reach 20 wins. But that winning streak? It went the way of Monty Python’s parrot. Lehigh won the second game 3-0 behind Gabriella Nori’s shutout. The Patriot League’s automatic bid runs through Boston, but Lehigh now knows it can win there.
10. Pierce and Mullins combine for a no-no to extend Texas State’s winning streak to 15. After Jessica Mullins tossed a perfect first inning against UT Arlington, the Bobcats turned to Karsen Pierce. She went on to battle UTA’s Jessica Adams in a pitchers’ duel until the seventh inning. The Texas State offense finally broke through with a pair of singles to make it 4-0. Pierce trotted back out, but needed a highlight reel catch by Kylie George in center field for the final out to seal the no-hitter. With Boston University’s loss, Texas State now has the longest winning streak and heads into the Sun Belt tournament as the hottest team in the nation.
11. Saint Francis extends its NEC dynasty. All right, it’s not Oklahoma’s mastery of the Big 12, but Saint Francis has the NEC locked down. The Red Flash defeated Sacred Heart 10-2 on Saturday to clinch the regular-season conference title and hosting privileges for the conference tournament. It’s the program’s fourth title in the past five tries, and the second under head coach Jessica O’Donnell. Since 2016, Saint Francis is 96-14 in conference games. Saturday’s recipe for success was distinctly familiar. Mekenzie Saban hit two doubles while becoming the program’s all-time hits leader. The super senior, in every sense of the term, is third in the nation with 21 doubles. Part of Saban’s story is how she bounced back from a disappointing freshman season to become the best hitter in program history. But with 20-plus doubles in each of her past three full seasons, she might otherwise be challenging the NCAA Division I career record.
12. Deja vu in Minneapolis. Minnesota run-ruled No. 7 Northwestern for the second day in a row to take the only Big Ten series away from the Wildcats. Autumn Pease got the start for the Gophers, throwing three innings in the five inning run-rule to give way to Game 1 hero, Emily Leavitt. Pease allowed just two hits and struck out four batters, and Leavitt gave up a single hit and struck out one in two innings of work. Lauren Espalin delivered at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a leadoff home run in the first and two RBI. With a series win over Northwestern, Minnesota has more than caught the attention of the NCAA selection committee. Two wins over a top 10 team bodes well for a team on the bubble.
Bonus: Dallas Millwood makes Cal State Fullerton miserable. Playing with the Big West title in the balance, Fullerton rallied from a 10-1 deficit at Hawaii to force the game to extra innings. A season-defining comeback? Not after Hawaii’s Dallas Millwood stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning in Honolulu.
Bonus: Weather helps Delaware clinch its first CAA title. How prevalent was bad weather this weekend? It even managed to clinch a conference title. Due to the toll of back-to-back days of inclement weather, the weekend series between the College of Charleston and Delaware in Newark, Delaware, was canceled. As a result, the Blue Hens finished the regular season with an 11-4 record in CAA games. With no other team able to match Delaware’s .733 winning percentage (most of the conference didn’t take the field this week), the Blue Hens clinched their first regular-season conference title and the top seed in next week’s tournament hosted by Elon. You don’t see many indoor trophy celebrations, but the Blue Hens aren’t complaining about the surroundings.