March 10, 2012
by Koby Padgett
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A relentless offensive attack that included hits from eight of the Gamecocks' nine starting batters led South Carolina (17-7, 1-1 SEC) to a 7-2 victory over Arkansas (17-5, 1-3 SEC) in front of 503 fans at Beckham Field on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore Chelsea Hawkins led the Gamecock attack with a 3-for-4 day, scoring twice. Sophomore Dana Hathorn went 2-for-4 with a two-run double, while junior Samie Garcia added a two-RBI double as well. Seniors Kaitlin Westfall and Kaela Jackson also doubled, with Westfall and senior Evan Childs each driving in a run.
"I was pleased with the way we attacked today," said Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith. "Everybody hit well throughout the lineup, and we were constantly putting pressure on their defense. Getting on the board early helped with our confidence at the plate."
The Gamecocks started quickly in the first, as senior Lauren Lackey scored on Childs' hit to left after she reached on an infield hit and moved to second when the throw got away at first. Hawkins followed with the first of her three singles, setting up Hathorn's two-run double to the right-field gap. The Gamecocks added runs in the next two frames, with Westfall plating senior pinch runner Jackie Slawson on the second Razorback error of the game in the second. Hathorn scored on Jackson's double in the third after the Arkansas centerfielder bobbled the ball at the wall.
South Carolina had a chance to end things in the fifth, loading the bases with two outs. Garcia drove the first pitch of the at bat to deep right, allowing two runs to score. With the potential eighth run at third, Arkansas pitcher Ciara Clampitt got a fly out to end the frame.
The Razorbacks scored in both the sixth and seventh on solo homers by Devon Wallace and Amanda Geile but were kept at bay otherwise despite getting runners aboard in every inning.
Gamecock freshman Katelynn Howser (7-1) pitched in and out of trouble all day, scattering eight hits and seven walks in the complete-game win. She struck out six. Kimmy Beasley (5-1) took the loss for the Razorbacks, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 2.1 innings.
"I was really pleased with the way Katelynn Howser pitched today," commented Smith. "She did a nice job changing speeds, keeping a big-hitting Arkansas lineup off balance."
Arkansas's Chloe Oprzedek had two doubles on the day, while Geile went 2-for-3 with the homer. The Razorbacks stranded 14 runners in the contest, compared to nine for the Gamecocks.
The series finale begins at 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday at Beckham Field.
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