Feb. 12, 2012
by Koby Padgett
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Behind a banner day from senior Evan Childs, South Carolina (3-1) downed Cleveland State (0-4) 7-4 on the final day of the Palmetto Classic Sunday at Beckham Field.
Childs went 4-for-4 with her first homer of the year, two doubles and three RBI. Junior Samie Garcia went 3-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and three runs scored. Senior Kaitlin Westfall and sophomore Dana Hathorn both added RBI doubles. In total, the Gamecocks posted 11 hits.
The Vikings were the first on the scoreboard when Dara Toman doubled down the left field line to score Nena Doran. But the Gamecocks answered in the bottom of the first when Childs singled home Garcia, who started the frame with a single and moved to second on junior Hannah Milks' sacrifice bunt.
The Gamecocks struck again in the third, with Garcia starting things off with a double. The junior proceeded to steal third on a sleeping CSU defense, which let the throw get into left field to allow Garcia to score. After an out, Westfall hit a ball through the Viking second baseman's legs and went all the way to third on the play. Childs followed with her blast over the left field fence to make it 4-1. The Gamecocks kept the pressure on, loading the bases on two walks around sophomore Chelsea Hawkins' single. An illegal pitch allowed senior Molly Brossart to score from third, putting the Gamecocks on top 5-1.
South Carolina threatened to wrap things early in the fourth. Garcia bunted for a hit, moved to second on another Milks sacrifice and scored on Westfall's double off the left field wall. Childs followed with a two-base hit that Viking leftfielder Gabby Gillian couldn't hold on to after her diving attempt. Hathorn placed one in a similar spot inside the line to bring home Westfall and move the Gamecock advantage to 7-1. Cleveland State pitcher Sara Shields escaped the inning without further damage by getting an infield pop out and a grounder to short.
Things would be quiet until the sixth, when the Vikings got a three-run homer by shortstop Cynthia Woodard, scoring Toman and Caila Ferro after the duo started the inning with singles. Another Viking hit brought on Gamecock freshman Katelynn Howser, who walked two in the inning to load the bases with two down before getting a fly ball to center to hold the Gamecocks' lead. Howser pitched a 1-2-3 seventh to secure the save, the first in her collegiate career.
Gamecock senior Kierstyn White (1-1) got the win, going five innings and allowing four runs, three earned, on seven hits and a walk. She struck out two. Alex Radjen (0-2) took the loss, giving up five runs, four earned, on five hits and two walks.
In Sunday's first game, Western Kentucky run-ruled Tennessee State 8-0 in five innings. And Winthrop came from behind to beat the Tigers 3-1 in eight innings. The win by the Eagles gives South Carolina the Palmetto Classic title, with the Gamecocks holding the edge over Western Kentucky thanks to the head-to-head win.
Westfall garnered tournament MVP honors, while Childs, Hathorn and redshirt junior pitcher Audrey Broyles joined her on the all-tournament team. Western Kentucky's Mallorie Sulaski and Katrina Metoyer, Winthrop's Chelsey Schoenfeldt and Megan Chapman, Tennessee State's Shea Morris and Cleveland State's Caila Ferro also made the all-tourney team.
The Gamecocks' next games come in the Blue & Gold Feisberg Memorial, hosted by Florida International on Feb. 17-19. South Carolina will face Providence, Illinois-Chicago, the host Panthers, Jacksonville and Villanova in the event.
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