Top Performances From College Softball (4/26-28)
The junior fired two complete-game shutouts including her second career no-hitter as North Alabama took two of three from league-leading Liberty in Florence, Ala. Working with no room for error in a pair of 1-0 wins, she allowed just seven baserunners in her 14 innings while striking out 19. The lone run in Garst’s no-no came from an unexpected source, as freshman utility player Riley Honeycutt stepped in at third base when Veronica Westfall left due to an injury and hit her first career homer off Flames’ ace Julia DiMartino. UNA handed Liberty their first two A-Sun losses in over a month, snapping LU’s 12-game conference winning streak. It’s the first no-hitter for the Lions since reclassifying to Division I for the 2019 season; Garst no-hit DII West Georgia on April 8, 2018.
The No. 17 Wildcats finished conference play with a bang, riding stellar pitching from junior Autumn Humes and sophomore Grace Baalman to hand No. 4 Alabama just their second and third home losses of the season in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Baalman went the distance on Friday, holding Bama to just one run on six hits in the 4-1 win. Humes was absolutely spectacular in long relief in the rubber game, allowing just one hit over 7 1/3 shutout innings as the Wildcats won the longest game in program history, 3-2 in 13 innings. Senior third baseman Abbey Cheek hit a pair of homers and drew five walks. UK has allowed a total of nine runs in their last six SEC games, recording a 5-1 record in that stretch.
The senior left fielder pushed her hitting streak to 15 games, scoring 10 runs as Belmont went 4-1, picking up doubleheader sweeps in Charleston, Ill. and Edwardsville, Ill. Cook went 10-for-18 to lead the Bruins in a strong fight in a 6-4 loss to No. 4 Alabama on Tuesday and road sweeps of Eastern Illinois and SIUE, marking the team’s first-ever 4-0 road weekend in OVC play. The Bruins clinched a spot in the OVC Tournament and their 12 OVC wins are the most conference wins in their DI history.
The Bulldogs swept an SEC opponent for the first time in four years, pouring in 24 runs to take all three from Missouri in Starkville, Miss. Sophomore catcher Mia Davidson hit two more home runs, moving into a tie for a pair of elite milestones. Her 25 home runs this season are now tied with Alex Hugo (Georgia, 2014) and Kelly Kretschman (Alabama, 1998) for the best single-season total in SEC history, while her 44 career home runs have already tied Kellie Wilkerson (1999-2002) for the top spot on the Bulldogs’ career home run list – with over half of her career remaining. Sophomore Emily Williams allowed just five runs (four earned) over 14.2 innings to earn two wins and a save, helping Mississippi State hold Missouri to a season-low eight runs in a three-game series.
Giselle ‘G’ Juarez
The junior lefty threw her second career perfect game as No. 1 Oklahoma thumped Iowa State 14-0 in five innings to push their national-best winning streak to 35 and finish a sweep in Ames, Iowa. She struck out 12 of the 15 batters she faced, needing just five innings to record her highest single-game strikeout total in Big 12 play. Having also sent Loyola Marymount 15 up, 15 down on March 14, Juarez joins Paige Parker (2015) as the only Sooners to record multiple perfect games in a single season.
The senior center fielder racked up seven hits and nine RBIs as Arizona State broke a nine-game losing streak in a big way, putting up 27 runs for a sweep of Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif. She had three-straight RBI extra-base hits including a game-tying home run to help ASU rally from an early 4-1 deficit for a 7-4 win in the second game. After tying her career-high in a Sun Devil uniform with four RBIs on Saturday, she recorded her second career five-RBI game in the finale; her first came on March 21, 2017 against Cal State Bakersfield while playing for Fresno State.
The Thundering Herd is taking off at the right time, nearly pulling off a midweek upset of Louisville before thumping MTSU in a three-game sweep in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Freshman right fielder Mya Stevenson blasted four homers in the four games. She hit a clutch two-run homer to give the Herd a late lead against the Cardinals on Tuesday before recording her first career multi-homer game in the opener against the Blue Raiders, going 3-for-4 and driving in six runs. Stevenson’s eight RBIs in the weekend series was more than enough for senior Abigail Tolbert, who tossed 16 scoreless innings with just five hits to earn all three wins, including retiring all 12 batters she saw in relief in the 8-2 game two win.
The Beavers opened the series by run-ruling archrival Oregon for the first time in 18 years and never looked back for a three-game sweep in Eugene, Ore. Coming in batting .143 (3-for-21) against Pac-12 opponents, freshman shortstop Maia Rader was a force at the bottom of the lineup, going 6-for-8 with three doubles. Senior center fielder Shelby Weeks capped a seven-hit weekend her first career multi-homer game in the finale, including the clutch two-run shot in the sixth that gave the Beavers the lead for good in the 12-8 win. It’s the first time OSU has won the Civil War series since 2012, and the first sweep since 2006.
The sophomore first baseman homered in all three games and drove in six runs as No. 11 Minnesota outscored rival Iowa 23-1 for their seventh straight Big Ten series win in Minneapolis, Minn. Brandner has been one the key cogs in a lineup that has scored at least six runs in each of their last seven games. Nine of her 15 home runs this season have come in Big Ten play, moving her past Northwestern’s Rachel Lewis for the most in conference play.