Gonzales, Gamecocks Close Out Senior Day with 2-1 Victory over No. 2/3 Florida
May 4, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Senior catcher Shelby Gonzales blasted a two-run homer in her final game at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field, and freshman reliever Katie Marks shut the door on No. 2/3 Florida (49-7, 18-6 SEC) to lead South Carolina (31-22, 8-16 SEC) to a 2-1 win in game two on Saturday to keep the Gamecocks' SEC Tournament hopes alive.
In the fourth with two down, Gonzales drove the 0-1 pitch over the wall in left for her fifth homer of the year, also scoring junior designated player Ashlyn Masters after she led off the inning with a walk. That overtook the Gators' run in the top of the inning that came without the aid of a hit. Briana Little and Katie Medina both drew walks with one down and advanced on a passed ball. After a strikeout, another pitch went wild, letting Little score the game's first run.
The Gamecocks had to escape a final threat from the Gators in the seventh. An error allowed pinch hitter Jessica Damico to reach, and Kelsey Stewart followed with a bunt single. A pop up to junior third baseman Codee Yeske stood as the first out and a grounder back to Marks marked the second but let both runners move into scoring position. The Gamecocks opted to intentionally walk Lauren Haeger to face senior Kelsey Horton. With a 3-2 count, Horton went around and didn't check her swing on appeal, giving Marks her fourth strikeout of the day and the win in relief.
Both teams had chances in the third but came up empty. The Gators loaded the bags, started by a bunt hit by Stewart and a walk drawn by Kirsti Merritt with one down and another walk to Haeger with two outs. But redshirt sophomore starter Julie Sarratt got a soft liner to short to end the frame. Sarratt allowed one unearned run in 3.1 innings of work.
South Carolina had singles from Yeske and senior shortstop Samie Garcia to start the home half of the third. Yeske stole third when the Gators tried to throw behind her, and the Gamecocks attempted the first-and-third delayed steal on a strikeout at the plate. A close play at home went against the Gamecocks for the second out. Junior second baseman Dana Hathorn singled, putting runners at the corners again, but Gator starter Hannah Rogers got a liner to second to snuff out the threat.
Marks (8-7) got the win in relief, fanning four in 3.2 innings. She gave up two hits and walked one intentionally. Rogers (28-5) took the loss, allowing two earned runs on six hits and two walks. She struck out two.
Hathorn ranked as the only Gamecock with two hits. Gonzales homered and sophomore centerfielder Kristen Struett doubled. Florida's Stewart had two bunt singles and a walk, while Haeger walked twice, two of the seven the Gators received in the contest.
South Carolina's win snaps a 28-game losing streak to Florida that dated back to the 2003 SEC Tournament. It's the first win over a top-two foe since May 19, 2003, when the Gamecocks forced an if-necessary game against No. 1 UCLA in NCAA Regional play at Beckham Field.
The Gamecocks now await Sunday's results in SEC play to see if they will qualify for the SEC Tournament, which begins on Wed., May 8 in Lexington, Ky.