May 13, 2005
Gainesville, Fla. – South Carolina softball’s tournament title hopes came to an end Friday as the Gamecocks lost 4-1 to Mississippi State and were eliminated from the SEC Tournament. USC falls to 28-28-1 while the Bulldogs improve to 33-28.
Aleca Johnson took the loss and fell to 7-10. Johnson threw six innings and gave up four runs on seven hits. Kelli Miller recorded the loss for MSU and improved to 13-11 while Ragan Blake picked up her seventh save on the season.
Margaret Person was the only Gamecock to post a multi-hit game as she went 3-for-3. USC’s lone run of the game came on a pinch-hit RBI single by Stefanie Norman who drove in pinch runner Becky Martinez. The run was the first for the Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament since 2003.
Mississippi State scored two runs in the first two innings off of a couple of hits and errors. In the first inning, Jennifer Jessup scored on an error and in the second, Michelle Kinney scored on an RBI single by Jessup to take the 2-0 lead.
In the fifth, South Carolina scored their first run of the tournament as Norman came in to pinch-hit and got an RBI single to score Martinez, who pinch ran for Kristin Hall, and cut MSU’s lead to 2-1. USC still had a runner at second and with two outs, Jessica Josker was at the plate and hit a line drive up the middle just above pitcher Blake’s head. What looked like it would be an RBI hit for Josker turned into an impressive defensive play for Bulldog shortstop Courtney Bures who snagged the ball and crawled to second base to get the third out and end the inning.
The Gamecocks managed to hold the Bulldogs to within one but in the top of the seventh, MSU scored two more runs. MSU drew two leadoff walks before a sac bunt advanced the runners to second and third. From there, a sac fly by Bures scored Nakita Boyce and then Tenelda McDonald followed with a single to center field and drove in Jessup. The Bulldogs lead was then extended to 4-1.
In the bottom half of the inning, Margaret Person kept the inning alive with her third hit of the game, a two-out single to left center field but it wasn’t enough as Blake struck out pinch hitter Kristi Hutchins to end the game and USC’s chances of advancing.
This marks the second straight year that USC went 0-2 in the tournament and has lost five straight. The Gamecocks have scored one run in their last four tournament appearances. USC’s tournament record now stands at 15-14.