Auburn Softball Team Completes Sweep of No. 15 South Carolina
Box Score l Audio
March 28, 2004
AUBURN - The Auburn softball team scored four first inning runs and held off a South Carolina rally to complete a sweep of the 15th-ranked Gamecocks with a 6-5 win at Beckham Field in Columbia, S.C., on Sunday.
With the win, the Tigers improve to 26-4 overall and 8-1 in the Southeastern Conference. The Gamecocks fell to 17-8 and 6-6 in the league.
"I was so proud of the way our team played today," said head coach Tina Deese. "We came ready to play and battled all day. It was a typical SEC battle today and that's the way we expect all our league games to go."
Having won 1-0 and 5-1 on Saturday, the Tigers jumped out early on USC by scoring in the first inning for the 11th time this year. Ashley Griffin reached on an error before Shannon Anderson sent her to second on a fielder's choice. Sara Dean worked a walk to load the bases.
Back-to-back singles by Holly Currie and Martha Phillips plated three and Currie later scored on Kristina McCain's sacrifice bunt.
"It was a real good start for us," said Deese. "We were relaxed and ready to go and our bats were explosive to start. We had hit their starter well (on Saturday) and we had confidence coming into today."
Griffin scored again in the second by singling, stealing second and coming home on a Dean RBI single.
South Carolina starter Stacey Johnson (9-3) was pulled after the second. She took the loss and allowed five runs on four hits while striking out one and walking one.
Trailing 5-0 heading into the bottom of the second, South Carolina rallied for two runs of their own. Meghan Cornett knocked an off the wall double to lead off and advanced to third on a single by Melissa Sandel. Both runners scored on Aleca Johnson's double to left center.
Following the double, Auburn starter Beth DiPietro was relieved by Kristen Keyes, who came in and recorded the next seven outs by strikeout. Keyes earned the win to improve to 12-4 despite giving up three runs * two earned. She struck out 13 without allowing a walk in 5.2 innings.
"For her to go in against an SEC team that she had thrown against one day ago and strike out 13 batters is incredible," Deese said. "It wasn't just the strikeouts. She shut down their entire order and made just the one mistake. She was very poised all day in the circle and had an awesome day."
Sandel manufactured a run in the fourth to cut the Auburn lead to 5-3. After reaching on a catcher's interference she stole second and went to third on a Margaret Person single. Sandel scored on a wild pitch.
Auburn added what turned out to be a much needed insurance run in the top of the seventh. After opening the inning with singles by Cami Fenn and Griffin, Shannon Anderson flied out to left. Lauren Walton, running for Fenn, was thrown out at home trying to score on the play. Griffin advanced to second. That set up Dean's single which plated the eventual game winning run.
"I like having the opportunity to hit with people on base," said Dean. "I had a feeling that we might need another run because of the way the game had gone up to that point and it turned out that we did."
Dean finished 3-for-3 with two RBIs and a run scored. She finished the series 7-for-10 with three RBIs and had two three-hit games.
Griffin and Currie each added four hits with Griffin scoring three runs and Currie driving in three on the weekend.
"Sara was fantastic with her clutch hitting and Holly had a timely hit today as well," Deese said. "Ashley did a great job of getting on base this weekend and setting up the meat of our line up."
Samantha Jennings, who left the bases loaded while trailing by four late in Saturday's second game, knocked a two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh. However, USC could get no closer.
The sweep was the second for Auburn this year. The series victory was the third straight for the Tigers, which is the first time they have accomplished that feat in school history. It is just the second time in school annals Auburn has taken a series from a ranked foe, the first time on the road.
South Carolina lost three games at home to a league team for the first time since joining the SEC in 1997. It was also the only the second time the Gamecocks have been swept since the conference went to three-game series' in 2001.
Auburn returns to action on Tuesday when it faces 16th-ranked Florida in a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. CT in Gainesville.