March 13, 2012
by Ryan Pederson and Koby Padgett
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina (18-8, 2-2 SEC) suffered a 10-6 loss in the first game of their SEC doubleheader against Mississippi State (16-9, 2-4 SEC). The Gamecocks outhit the Bulldogs 9-7, getting home runs from junior shortstop Samie Garcia and redshirt senior designated player Kaela Jackson.
The Bulldogs struck first blood in the opening half, scoring runs on an RBI single by Sam Lenahan and a squeeze bunt by Heidi Shape. South Carolina fought back in the bottom of the frame when Garcia sent a 1-0 pitch screaming over the right center wall for her fourth home run of the year to cut the Mississippi State lead to 2-1.
The Gamecocks threatened again in the bottom of the second as Jackson led off with an infield single and junior catcher Shelby Gonzales followed by getting on with error. After a sacrifice by senior first baseman Molly Brossart, Bulldog pitcher Stephanie Becker walked Garcia to load the bases but came back with an infield pop and a strikeout to get out of the jam.
The third inning brought more offense for the Garnet and Black, with sophomore right fielder Chelsea Hawkins starting the rally with a one-out walk. Hawkins moved into scoring position on a passed ball, and sophomore second baseman Dana Hathorn's single put runners on the corners. After Hathorn stole second, Jackson laid down an squeeze bunt, scoring Hawkins and tying the game at 2-2. Gonzales followed with an RBI groundout to give the Gamecocks a 3-2 lead heading into the fourth.
Senior Kierstyn White would relieve South Carolina starter Katelynn Howser to pitch in the top of the fourth after the freshman issued a leadoff walk, and the senior retired the Bulldogs in order to bring the Gamecocks back to the plate. Garcia led off the Carolina fourth with a single, and senior centerfielder Lauren Lackey roped a ball into the right center gap for a triple and stretched the Gamecock lead to 4-2.
Mississippi State took command of the contest with a five-run fifth. The Gamecocks walked the bases loaded, and Shape posted her second squeeze of the contest to make it a one-run game, 4-3. A passed ball tied the game, and Erin Nesbit handed the Bulldogs the lead with a single to left. The Gamecocks got an infield pop fly for the second out, but an error allowed two more runs to cross for the Maroon and White, making it 7-4.
Jackson brought the Gamecocks back within two as she belted a 1-0 pitch to left center for her first career round-tripper. However, the Bulldogs posted three more in the sixth to take a 10-5 lead. Brittany Bell had an RBI double, and two runs scored after the Gamecocks dropped a throw on a play at the plate.
South Carolina tried to chip away in the sixth when Hawkins singled home Garcia with two down, but Becker got a 1-2-3 seventh to close out the complete-game win.
Becker (9-3) allowed six runs, five earned, on nine hits and three walks in the victory. She struck out five. White (6-5) took the loss for South Carolina, giving up three earned runs on three walks and zero hits in 1.1 innings of work.
Garcia led the Gamecock bats, going 3-for-3 with her homer while scoring three runs. Jackson went 2-for-3 with the blast, and she drove in two. Bell scored three times for the Bulldogs, while Ka'ili Smith went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
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