The South Carolina (27-11, 4-9 SEC) softball team gave No. 4 Alabama its third loss of the season in front of the second biggest crowd in program history as the Gamecocks won 5-1 on Saturday night at Beckham Field.
Head coach Beverly Smith said senior Dixie Raley contributed significantly to the win, performing well in offense, defense and pitching.
“I think she threw a good mix,” Smith said. “Her curve balls are her go-to pitch, and she was throwing that well on both sides of the plate, and she really did a good job of keeping a tough Alabama offense off balance with the change-up.”
Raley finished her day with a complete game, tallying for two strikeouts and one allowed run on only five hits.
The South Carolina defense also came up with some clutch plays in crucial situations throughout the game to secure the Gamecock victory, including in the second inning as the Crimson Tide (38-3, 8-3 SEC) had a runner on third with two outs.
Junior Alabama infielder Claire Jenkins popped up to sophomore infielder Jana Johns to get the Gamecocks out of the jam and keep the early 1-0 lead at the end of the second inning.
Despite this, the Tide’s bats did not let up in the next inning as the South Carolina defense found themselves in a two-out, bases-loaded situation. However, junior Alabama catcher Bailey Hemphill fouled out to Johns once again for the Tide to end the scoring threat.
After an RBI double from redshirt junior outfielder Lauren Stewart to put South Carolina up 2-0 in the fourth inning, the Gamecocks were able to put three more runs on the board in the fifth after a two-run homer to center field from junior infielder Mackenzie Boesel and another RBI single from Stewart.
“I think Mackenzie Boesel was big tonight,” Smith said. “She set up the tone for the game early with the leadoff double, she comes up big with the home run, and it was her that made that tag out on the runner at second base that I think was able to stop the momentum for Alabama.”
While the Tide did respond in the sixth with a solo shot from Hemphill, the Gamecocks held on the rest of the way to force a rubber match on Sunday.
South Carolina will look to secure its first SEC series win on Sunday afternoon for game three of the series against Alabama. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. at Beckham Field and can be streamed on SEC Network Plus.
“We made a lot of good defensive plays," Smith said. "I think we’ve got to keep attacking at the plate, we've got to put runs on the board, and we’ve got to have a good pitching performance.”