Saturday, December 20, 2014
USC Softball Starts SEC Tourney WIth Upset Win
LEXINGTON, KY (USC SID) -- A complete game from redshirt sophomore Julie Sarratt and two big offensive innings sent South Carolina (32-22) to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals, as the Gamecocks defeated host and No. 18/15 Kentucky 6-3 early Thursday morning to close the first round at John Cropp Stadium.
A four-run third, led by RBI singles from senior shortstop Samie Garcia, freshman left fielder Alaynie Page and sophomore centerfielder Kristen Struett, put the Gamecocks on top for good. Senior catcher Shelby Gonzales drew a leadoff walk, and junior pinch runner Brooke Barnhill beat the throw to second on junior third baseman Codee Yeske's sacrifice bunt to put two runners on with none out. Garcia hit one hard through the right side, scoring Barnhill to tie the game at 1. Page followed with a hit up the middle to plate Yeske and give South Carolina the lead. After a strikeout, Struett singled through the left side, plating Garcia. On the next strikeout by Kentucky freshman Kelsey Nunley, Struett broke for second, and the throw to try to get her went into center, allowing Page to score to make it 4-1.
In the sixth, junior right fielder Chelsea Hawkins followed Struett's walk with a homer to left, sending the 3-2 pitch over the wall in left to make it 6-1.
Sarratt (11-7) pitched masterfully for the first six innings, giving up one unearned run in the complete-game win. In five of the innings, Sarratt retired the side in order. The seventh saw Kentucky get a two-run homer from senior Alice O'Brien and two more runners on an error and senior Kara Dill's hit. But Sarratt came back to get a ground out and a strikeout to end the game. She did not walk a batter and struck out six in the victory.
In the second, Kentucky got an unearned run with two down. One-out infield singles by O'Brien and freshman Christian Stokes gave the Wildcats life. A foul out made it two outs, and Sarratt faced Dill. She sent one to second that was bobbled, allowing Dill to reach. The throw went home, and the next throw went into left, letting O'Brien score and handing Kentucky the 1-0 lead. Sarratt tallied her first strikeout to end the frame.
Struett reached all three times, going 2-for-2 with a run, an RBI, a stolen base and a walk. Hawkins had the two-run homer, while Garcia and Page both went 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Page also had a stolen base.
Nunley (24-8) gave up six runs, five earned, on five hits and two walks. She struck out five. O'Brien went 2-for-3 with two runs and the two-run homer.
The Gamecocks got its first postseason win since the 2007 regional at Beckham Field and its first SEC Tournament win since 2003.
South Carolina advances to face second-seed Tennessee at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The game will be televised live on ESPN.
Wind: 8 MPH
Humidity: 73 %