March 9, 2014
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama softball completed the only SEC sweep of the weekend, holding off a resilient South Carolina squad for the narrow one-run victory Sunday at Rhoads Stadium.
Alabama (20-4, 3-0 SEC) held a 4-1 run lead heading into the seventh inning, but South Carolina (14-7, 0-3 SEC) scored a pair to threaten late as Sydney Littlejohn entered the game in the save situation.
"If Sydney didn't throw that one wild pitch, I don't think South Carolina would have scored," said Head Coach Patrick Murphy. "I'm really proud of her. I thought Jaclyn [Traina] pitched as well today as she did against Florida State except for the last inning. She dominated for six innings but couldn't finish it in the seventh, but it's nice that we have Sydney to come in and help us late and Kallie [Case] to make a great catch in left to end it."
Traina (7-2) threw 6.0 innings in the win, exiting with the bases loaded in the top of the seventh as Littlejohn earned the save, the first of her career, despite allowing two runs to score.
"It was a big situation," said Littlejohn on entering with the bases loaded, "but my team is so comforting. They were depending on me and I knew I could depend on them. Kallie made an amazing play and it really saved me, but I know every player out there can do that for me."
On offense, Case and Haylie McCleney each earned a pair of hits, with Case driving in two of the team's four runs. Today's 2-3 performance extends McCleney's current hitting streak to 11 games, just one shy of her career-best.
For the Gamecocks, starter Julie Sarratt (5-4) took the loss with four earned runs and seven hits in 2.1 innings of work. Victoria Williams and Chelsea Hawkins combined to earn four of the team's five hits.
Alabama pulled ahead early, scoring in each of the first three innings to build an early 4-0 lead. An RBI single by Case and a sacrifice fly by Jadyn Spencer scored a pair in the first inning, while another Case RBI single and a Danielle Richard sacrifice fly scored two more in the second and third innings, respectfully.
South Carolina broke up the shutout in the top of the fifth, as the Crimson Tide conceded the run to get the quick force-out at second instead.
Leading 4-1, Alabama was looking for a quick top of the seventh to close out the game. South Carolina didn't go down quietly however, as a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases with nobody out, bringing the potential go-ahead run to the plate. Littlejohn entered to pitch in the tough situation, as each runner moved up off a wild pitch to make the score 4-2. A lineout to Littlejohn on the mound went for the first out and a groundout went for out number two, but a run scored on the groundout to put the potential tying run 60 feet away. Ashley Masters got good contact on a ball, slicing it into the left-center gap as Case ran down the ball from left field to clinch the 4-3 win and the series sweep.
Next up, Alabama plays Mississippi Valley State (2-16) on Tuesday, March 11 at 6 p.m. CT in Rhoads Stadium.