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April 3, 2011

Box Score

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A strong pitching battle ultimately tipped in favor of No. 1 Alabama (37-2, 12-1 SEC) on Sunday, as the Crimson Tide took home a 1-0 win over South Carolina (17-18, 3-13 SEC) in front of another overflow crowd of 737 fans at Beckham Field.

Gamecock pitchers Audrey Broyles (4-5) and Julie Sarratt combined to hold the Tide to five hits and force them to leave nine on base. Broyles allowed the only run on three hits and three walks in four innings, striking out two while taking the tough loss. Sarratt fanned two and gave up two hits in three innings of relief work. But Alabama senior Kelsi Dunne (17-1) tossed a brilliant game, no-hitting the Gamecocks while striking out 10 and walking two.

Alabama got the only run of the game in the first. Kayla Braud drew a leadoff walk, stole second and moved to third on Jennifer Fenton’s sacrifice. Whitney Larsen followed, hitting a ball toward the left side that Gamecock sophomore shortstop Samie Garcia dove for and stopped, but the speedy Braud broke on contact and scored to give the Crimson Tide the 1-0 advantage.

Dunne took over from there. The Gamecocks nearly had a hit in the second, when freshman Dana Hathorn sent a ball to the second baseman Jackey Branham. She hurriedly tossed the ball to first to try to get the hard-charging Hathorn, but the Crimson Tide first baseman was called off the bag by the first-base umpire on an extremely close play.

South Carolina had its best chance in the fifth. Junior Evan Childs drew a two-out walk and stole second. The throw went wide of the bag, allowing Childs to reach third. Dunne hit senior P.J. Fulmer in the leg to put runners at the corners before coming back from a 3-0 count to get a strikeout to escape the jam.

Larsen went 2-for-4 with the lone Tide RBI of the day. The attendance of 737 fans marks the fourth Gamecock crowd of over 700 this season. And the 1-0 decision is the Gamecocks’ first of those since March 6, 2010 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when the Gamecocks dropped a 1-0 contest to then-No. 7 Michigan before beating DePaul by the same score later that night.

The Gamecocks step out of SEC play for the next six games, starting with Tuesday’s contest against Charleston Southern. First pitch for the game is scheduled for 5 p.m.