Tide takes series from South Carolina

TUSCALOOSA, AL-Alabama sophomore Angela Johnson hit a two-run home run and drove in another run as the No. 15 ranked (USA Today/NFCA) Alabama softball team defeated South Carolina 4-3 in the rubber match of the three-game series.

"My goal today was to hit the ball solid on the first pitch and help the team in anyway I could," said Johnson.

Alabama (43-14, 22-5 in the Southeastern Conference) spotted the Lady Gamecocks to a 1-0 lead after an inning and a half. In the bottom of the second, Lacy Prejean delivered a two-out single and came in to score on Johnson's third home of the season, a two-run shot that hit off the scoreboard halfway up for a 2-1 Alabama lead.

"Angela had a great batting practice yesterday, so I thought this was going to be her weekend," said Alabama Head Coach Patrick Murphy. "I thought the key was swinging at the first pitch because (Megan) Matthews throws a lot of first pitch strikes."

Alabama added to its lead in the bottom of the fourth inning, jumpstarted by an Ashley Courtney one-out single back up the middle. Prejean then hit a slow roller to USC third baseman Samantha Jennings, who threw to second trying to force out Courtney but the throw was late giving Alabama runners on first and second. Johnson came up and delivered her second straight hit, a single up the middle, scoring Courtney to put Alabama up 3-1.

South Carolina tied the game in the top of the fifth inning when, with runners on first and third, leftfielder Adrianna Baggetta singled to right scoring one runner but Capper Reed mishandled the ball allowing the runner to score all the way from first to tie the game at 3-3.

Bama reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the inning when Courtney was hit in the head with the bases loaded scoring Jackie Wilkins from third for the 4-3 lead and eventual victory. Wilkins reached on a fielder's choice, Jackie McClain singled and Emily Currie drew a walk to load the bases for Courtney.

Johnson finished the game going 2-3 with three RBI and a run scored helping Alabama win its first series over South Carolina in the history of the program.

All-American Shelley Laird picked her 24th win on the season improving her record to 24-8 while picking up her 116th career victory tying her for seventh on the all-time NCAA win list.

The Tide concluded its home portion of the 2002 schedule posting a 25-5 record while setting a program record in attendance drawing a total of 21,224 fans on the season.

Bama will be in action again Tuesday with the team travels to Troy, Alabama for a single game against the Troy State Trojans beginning at 6:00 p.m.

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