May 7, 2005
Columbia, S.C – South Carolina shortstop McKenna Hughes made a diving infield catch to get the Gamecocks out of a threatening rally by the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the seventh inning, and allowed USC to take home a 7-5 win in game two of the Saturday doubleheader. After posting a five-run second inning, USC had a 6-0 lead that they saw dwindle in the later innings of the game. With the win, USC is now guaranteed at least the No. 7 seed in the SEC Tournament next week. South Carolina is 28-25-1 and 11-15 in the SEC while the Bulldogs fall to 31-27, 11-18 in the conference.
The victory also gave USC the sweep for the doubleheader and clinched the series over the Bulldogs. Pitcher Aleca Johnson snuffed out her fifth save of the season while starter Kate Pouliot (7-11) picked up the win. Pouliot threw 4.1 innings and gave up three runs on six hits with four strikeouts. MSU pitcher Kelli Miller (12-11) pitched one inning and took the loss for the Bulldogs as she gave up three runs on three hits.
Jessica Josker continued to produce at the plate as she went 2-for-4 with one run and two RBI. But it was three home runs by MSU, including back-to-back jobs in the seventh, that propelled the rally for the Bulldogs. MSU recorded five home runs on the day but it was not enough as South Carolina finished out front in the end.
In the first, Josker led off the inning with a double to center field and after advancing to third on a groundout, was able to come home on an RBI-single by Ashley Smith. USC took a 1-0 lead.
The Gamecocks came back in the second and exploded with five runs. After a lead off single by Becky Martinez and back-to-back walks to Chrissy Schoonmaker and Margaret Person, to load the bases, Kristin Hall came in to pinch hit and singled to left field and drove in Martinez. Next was Josker, who connected on her second hit of the game and singled up the middle to score two more runs for the Gamecocks. Up 4-0 with no outs, Meghan Cornett drew a walk and kept the bases loaded before MSU changed pitchers for the second time in the inning. Off of Stephanie Comeaux, USC continued to find hits and Hughes hit an RBI-single and gave the Gamecocks a 5-0 lead. Comeaux and the Bulldogs were finally able to get an out on a fielder’s choice play at the plate. Next up was Lisa Longo who hit a sac fly ball deep to right field and scored the fifth run of the inning, USC up 6-0.
What looked to be a safe lead, was cut in half in the fifth inning when Katie Cooley hit a lead-off home run to break up the shutout and Courtney Bures hit an RBI single off of Pouliot. USC then changed pitchers and brought in Johnson before Callye Williams hit a sac fly to score Katie Johnson and made the score 6-3.
South Carolina capitalized on a MSU mistake as Person reached safely on an error by Tenelda McDonald to lead off the inning. After advancing to third on groundouts, Person eventually scored on a wild pitch by Comeaux and extended USC’s lead to 7-3.
The Bulldogs were not quite finished and in the seventh, continued to threaten the Gamecocks. With one out, Bures and McDonald hit back-to-back solo home runs and brought MSU to within two runs. MSU then connected on back-to-back singles by Williams and Michelle Kinney before Johnson was able to record another out. The two base runners then advanced to third and second on a passed ball before Johnson gave up a walk to Cooley and loaded the bases for MSU. It was on a 2-2 count that Blair Gedding lined it left of short and Hughes made a diving catch for the final out to end the game.
The Gamecocks held on and posted their second straight series win and pushed themselves up to at least the seventh seed at the SEC Tournament.
The series will conclude Sunday at 1 p.m. with senior recognition day for Cornett, Hall, and Johnson preceding the game. A win could slate USC for the sixth seed at the tournament.