March 12, 2006
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of South Carolina softball team lost its third-straight game to No. 6 Alabama, 8-0, on Sunday afternoon at the UA Softball Complex. Crimson Tide hurler Stephanie VanBrakle stifled Carolina in a five-inning no-hitter as Alabama swept the weekend series.
Alabama won its 10-th straight and improved to 21-3 overall and 6-0 in SEC play. South Carolina's record stands at 17-8 overall and 0-3 in league play.
Alabama got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the second. With two outs, Gamecock starter Christie Hamilton hit Kellie Eubanks with a pitch. Mandy Burford laced a base hit through the left side to put runners on first and second. Kelley Montalvo drove a home run off the left field foul pole to put the Crimson Tide on top, 3-0.
The Crimson Tide logged a fourth run in the third when Jordan Praytor led off the inning with a solo home run to right-center field.
USC mounted a threat in the top of the fourth inning. Second baseman Ashton Payne reached first on an error to begin the frame and proceeded to steal second base. Designated player Jessica Josker walked and McKenna Hughes reached on a fielder's choice that saw Payne out at third. VanBrakle recorded a pair of strikeouts to end the frame.
Alabama extended its lead with five hits, all singles, in the fourth. Montalvo and VanBrakle each drove in two runs to give the Tide an 8-0 advantage.
VanBrakle completed her no-hitter and secured the run-rule victory by retiring three straight Gamecock hitters in the top of the fifth.
Hamilton pitched the initial 2.1 innings for South Carolina before senior Melanie Henkes came on in relief. Hamilton allowed four UA hits and four runs. She struck out one and issued one walk. Henkes worked the final two frames and surrendered six hits and four runs.
Carolina will be back in action on Wednesday, March 15, when it hosts Eastern Kentucky for a single game. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.
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