Kirsti Merritt's three-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning broke open a tie game and lifted No. 1 seed Florida to an 8-4 win over No. 8 Alabama in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference Softball Tournament at Kentucky's John Cropp Stadium on Thursday.
The Gators advanced to Friday's semifinals, where they will face LSU or Georgia.
Florida opened the scoring with a run in the first, then added three more in the fourth for a 4-0 lead. Defending national champion Alabama fired back with four runs in the fifth.
Merritt's homer in the sixth highlighted a four-run inning for the Gators that put the game out of reach.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Florida starter Hannah Rogers pitched the first five innings. Lauren Haeger (14-2) came on to pick up the victory.
Georgia 7, LSU 0: The fifth-seeded Bulldogs powered their way past the No. 4 Tigers as Chelsea Wilkinson earned her fourth win over a top-25 opponent in the last four weeks, throwing a complete game shutout by scattering just five hits over seven innings.
Missouri 8, Arkansas 0: Freshman Emily Crane smacked a walk-off double as the third-seeded Tigers finished off No. 6 seed Arkansas in five innings.
The Tigers were led offensively by junior Mackenzie Sykes and sophomore Kelsea Roth. Sykes went 3-for-3 with a single, double and triple. Roth hit a two-run homer in the fifth.
Semifinal times changed
Friday's semifinals have been moved to 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. because of the potential for inclement weather, SEC officials said Thursday.
The games, which were originally set for 3 and 5:30 p.m., will both be televised on ESPNU.
SEC Softball Tournament
Florida 8, Alabama 4
Georgia 7, LSU 0
Missouri 8, Arkansas 0
Tennessee vs. South Carolina (n)
1 p.m. — Florida (50-7) vs. Georgia (38-18), (ESPNU)
3:30 p.m. — Missouri (34-10) vs. Tennessee-South Carolina winner (ESPNU)
8 p.m. — Semifinal winners meet (ESPN)