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May 3, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – With an offensive attack that included contributions from nearly every starter, South Carolina (36-19, 10-14 SEC) picked up a 9-1 (6) Sunday win over Mississippi State (35-18, 10-14 SEC) to capture the series at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.

The Gamecocks scored four in the third on three home runs. Senior designated player Sarah Mooney followed redshirt sophomore second baseman Lauren Masters’ walk with a shot over the left-field wall to put South Carolina on top for good at 2-1. Sophomore third baseman Taylor Williams followed with a solo shot, while freshman shortstop Krystan White came up two batters later to hit her second home run of the year.

South Carolina closed the game in the sixth with five more runs. The first scored when the Bulldog catcher couldn’t keep her foot on the plate on a throw home on a bases-loaded ground ball. Junior right fielder Ansley Ard followed with a two-RBI single, while sophomore first baseman Kaylea Snaer tripled home the final two runs to end the game early, 9-1.

Mississippi State jumped out to a 1-0 lead with Morgan Bell’s RBI groundout, scoring Katie Anne Bailey from third after she walked and moved into scoring position on Caroline Seitz’s double.

Gamecock sophomore Nickie Blue (19-7) picked up the win, scattering five hits, five walks and one earned run. Mackenzie Toler (2-2) took the loss for the Bulldogs, allowing three earned runs on two hits and a walk in one-plus inning.

White had some stellar plays at shortstop during the win, two coming in the second. She cut down one of the faster Bulldogs at the plate on a grounder for the inning’s second out, while she recovered after Blue deflected the ball to throw out the final batter at first. She completed a double play in the third to end the frame, catching a liner and throwing behind the runner at first. And in the fourth, with runners at first and second, she snagged a ball in the hole and, after seeing the runner try to score, threw a strike home, where senior catcher Olivia Lawrence tagged the runner out to end the frame.

Game Changer:
The home run barrage in the third, the first time the Gamecocks hit three home runs in an inning in the Beverly Smith era, turned the game to South Carolina.

Key Stat:
The Gamecocks are the first team to beat Mississippi State when the Bulldogs score the first run of the game.

• Snaer led the offense with a 2-for-4 day, driving in two runs while hitting a double and a triple.
• Taylor Williams scored twice, the only Gamecock with two runs scored.
• Mooney, Snaer and Ard all had two-RBI days.
• Freshman Caroline Cash had a pinch-hit double in the sixth.
• Five Bulldogs had hits, Seitz hitting the only double of the day for Mississippi State.
• White’s seven assists ties for the most for a Gamecock this year (Jordan Bizzell vs. Tennessee State, 3/1)
• Centerfielder Kristen Struett scored a run on her senior day, the fourth and final one of the year.
• The other Gamecocks playing their final home game included Lawrence, Mooney and Julie Sarratt.
• South Carolina takes its fourth straight SEC series for the first time since 2002.

Tweet of the Game:

Head coach Beverly Smith

It was our goal coming into the weekend to win the series. I’m proud of the way my team answered back today and was able to take the win. Nickie Blue did a great job keeping Mississippi State from getting things going at the plate. We got six out of seven leadoff outs today, which made the difference from yesterday to today.

On the three home-run inning:
That was certainly the difference-maker in the ball game. The nice thing that was nice about that was that it came from the bottom of our order. That’s where we needed some production. Lauren Masters’ at-bat to be on (ahead of Sarah Mooney) was huge for us.

We’re going to celebrate this win, then we’re going to look forward to the SEC Tournament and postseason play.

Up Next:
South Carolina takes on Texas A&M in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, La. Times will be set later, with all the games on day one showing on the SEC Network.