March 15, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. - In front of a full house of 830 fans on the opening night of Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field on Friday, South Carolina (16-7, 0-1 SEC) fought but fell to No. 4/6 Alabama 6-4.
The Crimson Tide took the lead for the final time in the seventh when Haylie McCleney tripled to center, scoring Andrea Hawkins and Kayla Braud after they started the inning with a hit and an reach on error, respectively.
South Carolina, making its home debut after 22 games on the road, got out to a 2-0 lead in the third on junior second baseman Dana Hathorn's RBI single and sophomore centerfielder Kristen Struett's sacrifice fly, scoring junior third baseman Codee Yeske after she started the inning with a walk and senior shortstop Samie Garcia after she singled to left. The Tide took a 3-2 lead in the fourth with three solo homers by Kaila Hunt, Danielle Richard and Leona Lafaele.
Alabama added a fourth run in the fifth on a two-out single by Hunt, scoring Braud after she doubled to left. South Carolina tied things in the bottom of the fifth. Yeske started the inning with a home run, her first of the year, and Struett doubled home freshman left fielder Alaynie Page after she tallied a one-out double herself.
The Gamecocks threatened in the seventh, with Garcia starting the inning by reaching on an error. Page looked to have been hit by a pitch, but she was called back to the plate, as the umpire said it a foul ball. After a pop out, Hathorn posted her second hit of the day, singling through the left side. A fielder's choice gave the Gamecocks runners at the corners, but Alabama reliever Leslie Jury got out of the inning with a grounder back to her, picking up the win in relief.
Jury (8-1) tossed 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, giving up a hit and a walk while fanning two. The Gamecocks tagged four earned runs on Jackie Traina, who gave up five hits and four walks while striking out four in the start. Gamecock freshman Katie Marks (5-4) took the loss, giving up two runs, one earned, on three hits while posting three strikeouts in 2.1 innings.
Hathorn stood as the only Gamecock hitter to post two hits, while Struett had a double and two RBI. Yeske scored twice to go with the homer. Hunt led Alabama with a 3-for-4 night with a double, a homer and two RBI.
Opening the new stadium with a ceremonial first pitch was longtime Gamecock Softball supporter Mitzi Beckham, who threw out the next-to-last first pitch at the park last April. Beside her was her husband, David, and the couple enjoyed a game in the new park that still bears their name.
South Carolina and Alabama tangle again on Saturday, with first pitch scheduled for 12 p.m. EDT to accommodate the Comcast Sports Southeast telecast.
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