If it only happens every 17 times or so, it won’t hurt too badly, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Alabama had 16 consecutive softball wins over South Carolina going into Saturday’s game in Columbia, but the Crimson Tide couldn’t get it done again, falling 2-1.
Saturday’s game evened the series at 1-1. The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide fell to 42-10 overall and 13-7 in Southeastern Conference games. South Carolina improved to 34-17, including 6-14 in the conference.
The series rubber game is at noon CDT Sunday.
Alabama managed only three hits in the losing effort, but still had its chances to pull out the victory. Bama’s only run came on a sacrifice fly by Haylie McCleney.
Alexis Osorio (13-6) pitched well, but took the loss. In five innings she allowed five hits and two runs and struck out nine.The Gamecocks got a winning start from Jessica Elliott (17-5), who had been the losing pitcher to Alabama in the first game of the series Friday night. She got three innings of scoreless relief from Nickie Blue.
Celebrating her senior day, the Gamecocks’ Alaynie Page put her team out in front first with a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the first inning. Page scored the team’s second and eventual winning run in the bottom of the third, coming home on an RBI single by Kaylea Snaer.
Alabama was hitless until a Reagan Dykes single with one out in the top of the fourth. The Tide would put two runners on base in the inning but could not score.
Osorio got the Tide out of a jam in the bottom of the fourth, stranding the bases loaded to keep it a two-run game.
Bama looked to be ready for a big inning in the fifth as Merris Schroeder led off with a double and Kellie Case followed with a single. On the throw in, Case went to second. The top of the lineup was coming up with runners in scoring position and no outs.
McCleney’s flyout to left scored Schroeder and moved Case to third. After Chandler Dare walked, Marisa Runyon rifled a shot, but it went right to the South Carolina first baseman, who made the catch and stepped on the bag for the unassisted double play that ended the threat.
South Carolina loaded the bases yet again in the bottom of the fifth and Osorio got out of the jam for a second-straight inning to keep it a one-run deficit.
The score remained the same heading into the top of the seventh and Schroder reached on a fielding error and advanced to second on a groundout to move into scoring position as the top of the order came up to bat. McCleney was intentionally walked, but a strikeout ended the game.