May 11, 2016
MISSISSIPPI STATE, Miss. – Gamecock junior Taylor Williams cranked a pinch-hit home run in the eighth to send South Carolina (36-20) to a 7-4 extra-innings victory in the opening game of the 2016 SEC Softball Tournament over sixth-seeded and No. 17/15 Missouri.
Williams came on with two outs after a single by junior Victoria Williams and a two-out double by senior Jordan Bizzell and knocked the 1-2 pitch out a few feet fair in left to hand South Carolina the 7-4 lead.
South Carolina tied things in the seventh, getting the first run on senior Alaynie Page’s single to right, scoring Bizzell after her one-out double to right center. Freshman Kennedy Clark singled to set up junior Kaylea Snaer. She drove an 0-2 pitch over the 220-foot sign in center to knot things at 4-4.
The Tigers broke through in the fifth, driving in two on Taylor Gadbois’s groundout and Sami Fagan’s single to center. That scored Regan Nash, who pinch ran for Rylee Pierce after she led off the frame with a hit, and Natalie Fleming after she reached on an error during her sacrifice bunt attempt. Missouri tacked on two more in the sixth on Chloe Rathburn’s two-run home run that hit the camera lift high above the left-field wall.
Gamecock junior Nickie Blue (18-12) tossed a complete game in the win, giving up four runs, two earned, on five hits and four walks. Tiger freshman Danielle Baumgartner (14-4) took the loss, allowing three earned runs on three hits in her inning of relief. Paige Lowary gave up four earned runs on eight hits in seven innings, striking out five.
The two home runs pushed the Gamecocks to the win.
The senior backstop Bizzell helped both rallies with doubles, going 2-for-3 with a hit by pitch and two runs scored.
â€¢ Snaer went 2-for-3 with the three-run homer, while Page went 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI single.
â€¢ Clark, senior Ansley Ard, freshman Kenzi Maguire and the Williams all had hits as well.
â€¢ Emily Crane led Missouri with a 2-for-4 day, scoring a run, while Fagan, Rathburn and Pierce all had hits.
â€¢ Fagan reached base three times, drawing two walks as well, and had an RBI alongside fellow senior Taylor Gadbois.
â€¢ Blue picked up her second win over the Tigers in the last week, tossing a two-hitter in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Mizzou.
â€¢ The Gamecocks advance to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals for the third time in four years under head coach Beverly Smith.
South Carolina takes on third-seeded and No. 10/9 Tennessee in the first quarterfinal matchup on Thursday at Nusz Park at 11 a.m. CDT.