SEC Softball Tournament: Players to watch

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMay 7, 2013 

NCAA Tennessee Alabama Softball

Alabama's Jazlyn Lunceford, left, and Kayla Braud, right, celebrate after Kayla Braud crosses home plate after hitting a run against Tennessee during the first quarter of a Women's College World Series softball game in Oklahoma City, Thursday, May 31, 2012. Alabama won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alonzo Adams)


Players to watch in this week's Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament at Kentucky's John Cropp Stadium:

Lauren Gibson, Tennessee — The third Lady Vol ever to earn SEC Player of the Year honors, Gibson led league play with 12 homers, a .448 batting average, 26 runs, 36 RBI and 1.060 slugging percentage. The senior second baseman, from Pasadena, Md., is a top 25 finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. Including non-conference games, Gibson totaled 18 homers and batted .430 with 59 runs, 65 RBI, 131 total bases and an .878 slugging percentage.

Chelsea Thomas, Missouri — The SEC Pitcher of the Year finished 20-4 overall with a 1.25 ERA, holding opponents to a .156 batting average. Also a Collegiate Player of the Year finalist, the senior right-hander from Pleasantville, Iowa, has tossed 11 career no-hitters,most recently last weekend against Tennessee. She started a league-high 19 conference games, holding opponents to a .176 average while going 13-4 with a 1.70 ERA.

Bianka Bell, LSU — An SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, the shortstop from Tampa, Fla., paced the Tigers with 12 homers and 47 RBI, both ranking third in program history. In SEC play, she batted .356 with five homers and 18 RBI, and was involved in 34 percent of LSU's runs scored.

Geri Ann Glasco, Georgia — The other SEC Co-Freshman of the Year, the pitcher and first baseman led the league with 19 homers, including 11 in league play, where she slugged .776. Last month against South Carolina, the Watkinsville, Ga., product tied a conference record with three homers in a game. On the mound, Glasco went 17-7 with a 3.13 ERA. She is the first Georgia player ever to earn national Player of the Week honors twice in the same season.

Hannah Rogers, Florida — A first-team All-SEC pick from Lake Wales, Fla., the junior right-hander led the SEC with 28 wins (28-5), was second in ERA at 1.34 and added three saves. Rogers struck out 202 and walked 69.

Kayla Braud, Alabama — The senior outfielder from Eugene, Ore., is a first-team All-SEC selection. Overall, she hit .452 with a homer, 21 RBI and 57 runs, stealing 36 bases in 39 attempts. She drew more walks (18) than strikeouts (15), compiling a .508 on-base percentage.

Kelsey Nunley, UK — The right-hander from Soddy Daisy, Tenn., a Freshman All-SEC pick, worked a league-leading 2231⁄3 innings, going 24-7 with two saves and a 2.01 ERA. Her 24 wins are a single-season record for the Cats.


SEC Tournament teams listed in order of tourney seeding with how they rank in the national polls:


1. Florida 2 2 3

2. Tennessee 9 4 2

3. Missouri 10 11 11

4. LSU 5 8 7

5. Georgia 30 32 24

6. Arkansas 24 26 22

7. Kentucky 8 20 19

8. Alabama 6 7 8

9. Texas A&M 16 14 21

10. S. Carolina 40 NR NR

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