Auburn Softball Team Bounces Back With 2-0 Win Over South Carolina
May 14, 2004
TUSCALOOSA - Kristina McCain laced a two-run single in the third inning to provide 12th-ranked Auburn all the offense it would need in its 2-0 victory over South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday afternoon at the University of Alabama Softball Complex.
Pitcher Kristen Keyes made the lead stand up as she carried a no-hitter to the final out before having it broken up by Chrissy Schoonmakers single to left field. She hurled her 12th shutout of the season and improved her record to 25-10 on the season. Keyes struck out five and walked two.
"Kristen did a great job," said head coach Tina Deese. "She kept them off balance and really pitched a great game."
The Tigers improved to 40-15 on the season marking the first time in school history they have hit the 40-win plateau. South Carolina fell to 27-22 on the year.
Facing elimination, Auburn snapped its four-game SEC Tournament losing streak and won for the first time in its last 10 tries at the Alabama Softball Complex.
"We are still in this tournament," said Keyes. "We are the 12th-ranked team in the country and we just needed to come out and play like it. I think today we showed we can come out and play with anybody."
The game, which began shortly after 2 p.m., came just 12 hours after the Tigers fell to host Alabama in the first round in a game that went well past midnight. However, Auburn regrouped to pull out the win, their fourth over the Gamecocks this year.
In the third, Lolani Alvarez led off with a walk before Lauren Walton beat out an infield singled. The pair each moved up a base as South Carolina pitcher Stacey Johnson threw wide of first base attempting to get Walton. McCain immediately followed with a shot to left field that scored both.
"In my first at bat I got my confidence going because I hit the ball hard," said McCain. "The second time up, I was on it."
The early lead was Keyes was spectacular keeping the Gamecock hitters off balance. Unable to make solid contact all afternoon, they popped up nine times and fouled out two more.
"It helps so much to have a lead when you're pitching," Keyes noted. "When we have a lead, I don't have to paint the corners as much and don't have to be as selective with my pitches."
It is the first time Keyes has recorded a win in the SEC Tournament in seven starts. She had previously lost three times and taken three no-decisions.
Johnson took the loss despite allowing just two runs * one earned * on six hits in seven innings. She struck out two and walked two in falling to 16-12 on the year.
Auburn faces the loser of the Georgia-Mississippi State contest at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday in another elimination game. The Tigers took two-of-three from both Bulldog teams during the year.