March 20, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Gamecock senior centerfielder Ansley Ard hit her second game-winning home run of the week, posting a walk-off shot in the seventh to lead South Carolina (22-6, 1-4 SEC) to a 5-4 win over No. 12/12 Georgia (25-4, 1-1 SEC) on Sunday night at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
Four nights after winning the first game against Buffalo with a grand slam, Ard knocked the 1-0 pitch over the wall in left to break a 4-4 tie. She scored the game-tying run two innings earlier after leading off the frame with a single. Senior left fielder Alaynie Page followed with a hit, and freshman designated player Alexis Mack sacrificed them both into scoring position. Freshman right fielder Kennedy Clark grounded out to second, deep enough to let Ard come home to make it a 4-4 game.
Georgia claimed a 1-0 lead in the first on Tina Iosefa’s RBI single, scoring Sydni Emanuel. The Gamecocks tied things on Page’s first home run of the day, a blast to right center that led off the bottom half of the first. The Bulldogs scored twice in the second, one coming in on Lacey Sumerlin’s double and another on a throwing error by the Gamecocks. Page made it a one-run game in the third with a blast that seemed to just miss the lights in left center.
The Bulldogs pushed the lead to 4-2 on Cortni Emanuel’s infield single in the fourth, pushing home Sumerlin. South Carolina closed the gap to one again in the bottom half of the fourth, as sophomore third baseman Kamryn Watts singled towards the middle, scoring sophomore second baseman Krystan White.
Gamecock junior Nickie Blue (9-5) picked up the win in relief, tossing two scoreless innings, giving up only one hit. Georgia’s Brittany Gray (7-3) took the loss, going three-plus innings and allowing three earned runs on seven hits.
The Gamecocks never quit, with Page’s home runs sparking the team early.
It’s Ard’s fourth game-winning hit of the spring, joining with hits against Coastal and Western Carolina and the homer against Buffalo.
â€¢ Page went 3-for-3 with the program record-tying two home runs, matching her career best of nine total bases (vs. Miss. State, 5/1/15).
â€¢ The two home runs gives her 30 in her career, the second Gamecock to tally 30 round-trippers.
â€¢ The three hits ties Page for 18th in school history in hits, joining Marianne DiRupo (1986-89) with 186.
â€¢ She’s also now fifth in runs (159), passing former fellow All-American Chanda Lee (1994-97) and seventh in total bases (328), moving ahead of two others.
â€¢ Ard went 2-for-3, scoring twice to go with the home run, her third of the year.
â€¢ Watts went 2-for-3 with the RBI single.
â€¢ Cortni Emanuel and Sumerlin both had two hits and an RBI for the Bulldogs, with Sumerlin scoring two of the runs and posting the double.
â€¢ Iosefa reached base three times in a 1-for-2 day, walking twice to go with the RBI single.
Tweet of the Game:
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) March 21, 2016
Head coach Beverly Smith
I was proud of how we answered back today. Our hitters were locked in; they really made some adjustments we talked about. It was a great, all-around team win. Our pitchers did a great job holding down a strong Georgia offense. Our offense came to play tonight. Georgia’s a strong team, and we’re excited to be able to play for the series tomorrow night.
Georgia had the leadoff runner on a lot tonight, and our defense did a nice job handling that. We had the double play (in the fifth by Elliott), which was big. (Jessica Elliott) did a super job, and Nickie (Blue) came in composed and closed the door.
On Page’s two home runs:
Alaynie’s swing was on point tonight. She launched two balls. I wish we had somebody on base early for her. She really kept us in it.
Senior centerfielder Ansley Ard
On the team’s focus on winning the series:
We’re so excited. All of us are fired up, and it will take all of us to get there. We have the talent. I can’t wait to see what this team does the rest of the season.
On her focus in the clutch situations where she’s come through:
Honestly, I’ve said a little prayer before I go to bat to ask for courage and to be in the moment and take my cuts. God stays with you through all of it. Getting to those moments, the rest of the team gets us there. It’s a full-team effort.
The Gamecocks and Bulldogs close the series on Monday night in front of the SEC Network’s audience at 7 p.m. EDT. Tickets will be available at the gate at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field. Head women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley will throw out a ceremonial first pitch before the contest.