After a weather delay of 2 hours and 16 minutes, No. 2 Florida needed less time than that to knock out South Carolina on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference softball tournament.
South Carolina batted in the top of the first inning before lightning and rain halted the game and the Tiger Park grounds crew covered the infield. When play finally resumed, top-seeded Florida made short work of No. 9 seed South Carolina, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first en route to a 10-1 run-rule victory in 4½ innings.
Florida (50-5) advanced to a 4:30 p.m. Friday semifinal game against No. 5 Tennessee.
The three-run outburst in the first inning was more than enough for Florida’s Lauren Haeger, the league’s pitcher of the year. She allowed two hits and no runs and walked just one in four innings to push her record to 24-0.
Florida (50-5) added two runs in the second, one in the third and took a 10-0 lead with four runs in the fourth.
Florida second baseman Kelsey Stewart, the SEC player of the year, was 4-for-4 to lead the Gators’ nine-hit attack. She started the three-run first with a leadoff triple to right-center field and scored on an error.
Stewart also led off the second with a single and came around to score, singled again in the third and belted a two-run homer to right-center field in the fourth to finish off South Carolina (37-20).
“We did a good job of scoring runs early in a rain-delay game,” UF coach Tim Walton said. “We always worry about getting (warm) and getting yourself ready to play. Then, to have to sit and wait that long, I thought we responded well.”
ALABAMA 2, GEORGIA 1: Third-seeded Alabama scratched out a run in the bottom of the sixth to break a 1-1 tie and the Crimson Tide held on to advance to the semifinals against Auburn.
Designated player Marisa Runyon drove in the only runs for Alabama (41-11) to help her team stay alive in the tournament and send No. 6 seed Georgia (40-14) home.
Runyon’s single in the sixth scored Haylie McCleney, who drew a leadoff walk and moved up on a sacrifice. Runyon followed with the game-winner off Georgia pitcher Brittany Gray, who allowed just three hits.
Runyon drove in Alabama’s first run in the first inning with a sacrifice fly, while Georgia tied it in the fourth on a fielding error by Crimson Tide first baseman Leona Lafaele after a single by Alex Hugo.
Alabama pitcher Alexis Osorio (17-7) allowed just two hits and struck out 12.
AUBURN 5, MISSOURI 2: Haley Fagan homered to lead off the bottom of the third to tie the score at 1, and second-seeded Auburn added two runs in each of the next two innings to down No. 7 seed Missouri.
Auburn (47-9) managed just four hits, but it didn’t need a lot thanks to a couple of errors by Missouri (39-14).
Auburn put two runs on the scoreboard in the fourth, with one scoring on an error by right fielder Emily Crane and the other on a fielder’s choice.
In the fifth, Emily Carosone drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly and a second unearned run came home on a throwing error by Fagan.