May 1, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Alabama softball outlasted numerous weather delays in Sunday’s rubber match over South Carolina, eventually winning 5-1 with the game called after five innings.
Alabama (43-10, 14-7 SEC) scored five unanswered runs before South Carolina (34-18, 6-15 SEC) eventually got on the board in the third inning, but the cushion proved enough as weather ended the game prematurely after five innings. Haylie McCleney went 2-3 with two RBIs, putting her just two hits shy of 300 career hits. Marisa Runyon went 2-2 with an RBI while Peyton Grantham and Kallie Case drove in the Tide’s remaining two runs.
Tide starter Sydney Littlejohn (21-4) threw 4.0 innings in the win, allowing just one run on four hits. Alexis Osorio entered in relief and pitched 1.0 inning before the game was called. South Carolina’s Jessica Elliott (17-6) took her second loss of the weekend, allowing five runs, four earned, on seven hits in 3.0 innings.
Weather caused of pair of early delays, pushing the start time back 10 minutes and then forcing another 30 minute delay in the bottom of the first. Upon resumption, a lineout quickly ended the first inning and Alabama started strongly in the top of the second, loading the bases with nobody out. Grantham pulled an RBI single through the left side to move everyone up 60 feet and put Alabama ahead 1-0 before Case followed with an RBI fielder’s choice to make it 2-0. Turning back to the top of the order, McCleney drove both runners home with a two-run double to the wall in left center, pushing the lead to 4-0.
Alabama kept things going in the top of the third as Sydney Booker led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error to immediately put a runner in scoring position. Runyon lifted a single into right field, falling just fair down the line to score Booker from second and make it a 5-0 game.
South Carolina started off the bottom of the third with back-to-back singles and then both runners moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. The runner at third tagged up on a line drive to center field, scoring on the sacrifice fly to make it a 5-1 game. Later with two on and two out, McCleney made a running catch on the warning track to rob a potential double and end the inning and preserve the Tide’s four-run lead.
The Gamecocks led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and Osorio entered in relief for Alabama, but bad weather forced another delay before she could throw a pitch as the teams were led off the field. After the teams retook the field, South Carolina would get two on base but a great diving catch by Case in shallow left ended the inning and preserved the 5-1 lead.
Before the top of the sixth could start, yet another weather delay forced the teams off the field. Officials eventually decided to call the game, with Alabama taking home the 5-1 win and the weekend series.
Alabama wraps up the regular season next weekend in Tuscaloosa, hosting the Georgia Bulldogs (39-14, 11-10 SEC) for a three-game series beginning on Friday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. CT. Game two, set for an 11 a.m. CT start on Saturday, will be live on ESPN.