By Austin Ward
South Carolina continued their improbable season and Florida delivered a statement win en route to advancing to the SEC Championship.
South Carolina used a two-run homer by Tiara Duffy in the fourth to help lead them to a 3-1 victory over Arkansas. The senior outfielder hit it just enough to bounce off the top of the outfield wall in left-center.
The home run was South Carolina’s 61st of the season, a new program record. They also advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2001.
Coach Beverly Smith was happy with her starter’s performance.
“I was really impressed with Dixie Raley’s performance on the mound today,” Smith said. “I thought she had great command, lot of swings and misses, and she got us out of a couple jams.”
Raley pitched a complete game giving up one run, five hits, two walks, and had seven strikeouts.
South Carolina’s season has been nothing but unpredictable. They were predicted to finish 12th in the preseason SEC poll and finished third in the regular season. Winning it all won’t be easy, they’ve got a juggernaut waiting in Florida.
No. 4 Florida bounced on No. 7 Tennessee early and never looked back as they run ruled them 10-2 in five innings.
Nicole Dewitt followed up a two-run first inning homer with a three-run bomb in the second. Tennessee gained slight momentum at times, but Florida quickly snuffed it out.
South Carolina’s offensive production will be key to their success. Florida swept the season series and South Carolina scored one run total in the series.
The SEC Softball Championship takes place from Mizzou Softball Stadium Saturday night at 7 CT. The game will be broadcast on ESPN 2.