By Austin Ward
The SEC Softball Tournament Semifinals will see a combination of storied SEC programs and new faces.
The first game will be No. 12 South Carolina vs No. 18 Arkansas. Both teams are in the semifinals for the first time in over a decade, South Carolina last made it in 2002 and Arkansas in 2001.
Arkansas is coming off an impressive 8-3 upset over No. 8 and second seeded Georgia. South Carolina is coming off a 3-1 win over Mississippi State.
These two teams faced off in an early April series that saw South Carolina take two of three.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see a low scoring game as both teams house a stellar pitching staff. Arkansas plays well when they have momentum and will look to get on the scoreboard early. They scored all four of their runs in the first inning in their one win over South Carolina this season.
If both teams make contact, the ball could go flying. Both teams rank in the top 30 in home runs this season.
The second game will see two SEC schools with great history in Florida and Tennessee. The two teams have combined for 15 semifinal appearances in the last decade (8 for Tennessee, 7 for Florida) including four head-to-head matchups.
Tennessee used a three-hit shutout from Caylan Arnold to help them defeat LSU 1-0 to get to the semis. Florida erased an early 2-0 deficit and used a three-run moon shot by SEC Player of the Year Amanda Lorenz to propel them to a 5-2 win over Alabama.
Florida will be looking to end an unsettling trend. They won their fourth straight SEC regular season title this year but have failed to make it out of the tournament semis each of the last three years, including a quarterfinal loss last year.
The two teams haven’t faced off this season, their last matchup in the tournament was in the 2015 semis which saw Tennessee pick up a 2-1 victory.
Tennessee will certainly want to do better offensively in this game as Florida ranks seventh in the country in runs scored this season. It won’t be an easy task as Florida is also ranked sixth in ERA.
South Carolina and Arkansas get under way at 2:00 CT and Florida-Tennessee is at 4:30 CT.