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COLUMBIA, S.C. – A solid relief effort by sophomore Leslie Jury and timely hitting propelled the Alabama softball team to a series opening, 6-4 victory at South Carolina, Friday night. The game was the first ever played at the new Carolina Softball Stadium. With the victory, the Crimson Tide improves to 24-3 overall and 2-2 in Southeastern Conference play.
Jury, playing in her home state for the first time, came in relief and allowed just one hit and struck out two in 2 1/3 innings pitched.
A big fourth and seventh innings proved to be the difference as Alabama outhit South Carolina, 8-6. Junior Kaila Hunt paced the Tide with three hits and two RBI.
After South Carolina opened the scoring with two runs in the third inning, the Tide promptly took the lead in a hurry on the strength of three home runs in the fourth inning.
Hunt started things in the frame, this time clearing the wall in left-center to lead off the fourth inning to pull Alabama to within one. The home run was her eighth on the season. The shot came an at-bat after the junior tattooed the wall in left-center in the first inning.
UA then evened the score two batters later as sophomore Danielle Richard hit a solo shot over the wall in left. The home run was the fourth on the season for the third baseman. Freshman Leona Lafaele then gave the Tide the lead with a lined shot that left the yard in a hurry, landing on the South Carolina track well beyond the wall down the left field line. The home run was a career first for the rookie.
Hunt added to the Tide lead in the fifth inning, when an infield single was able to score senior Kayla Braud all the way from second to make it a 4-2 advantage.
The Gamecocks rallied to tie it in the bottom of the fifth with two runs of their own. Two innings later the Tide would strike again. Freshman Haylie McCleney provided the heroics with a two-run triple to give Alabama the final 6-4 margin. A single by freshman Andrea Hawkins and Braud reaching on an error got things going for the Tide.
The two teams will meet for game two of the series on Saturday. It will mark the first time the Tide are on TV this season as it will air live on CSS with Melissa Lee and Cheri Kempf calling the action. First pitch is set for 11 a.m. CT.
Christopher Walsh covers Alabama football for BamaOnline, 247Sports, and is the author of 18 books.
Roll Tide Ladies!!!
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