Sometimes winning is just a matter of getting out of the way and letting an opponent defeat itself.
That’s how it was for the ninth-ranked University of Alabama softball team on Friday night. South Carolina fired a couple of big shots, but the Crimson Tide took advantage of a series of misfires by the Gamecocks to take a 7-3 victory.
Alabama improved to 29-3, 6-1 in SEC play, in front of a crowd of 2,815. Saturday’s scheduled game has been postponed due to expected weather, with an 11 a.m. doubleheader set for Sunday.
South Carolina first baseman Kayla Snaer fired the first salvo with a leadoff home run to start the game. Alabama answered in the bottom of the first when second baseman Demi Turner singled and scored on Bailey Hemphill’s double off the wall in left-center.
“After they scored that first run we immediately wanted to come back,” Hemphill said. “I wanted to get that first RBI and get us back in the game and let (starting pitcher Sydney Littlejohn) know we’ve got her back.”
In the second inning, Alabama pounced on a few South Carolina mistakes to take command.
The Crimson Tide loaded the bases with two outs, and third baseman Marisa Runyon popped up to shallow left field. The outfielder dropped the ball when she collided with the shortstop, allowing two runs to score.
First baseman Peyton Grantham singled in another run, and South Carolina compounded the situation when pitcher Jessica Elliott (8-5) walked two batters in a row to bring in another run for a 5-1 Alabama lead. Elliott walked six batters in just 2 1/3 innings.
“We watch video, and her stats told us a little bit,” Alabama coach Patrick Murphy said. “Sometimes you’ve got to be patient a little bit. There was a couple take signs for sure, like four or five in a row.”
UA earned two runs in the third. Elissa Brown led off with an infield single, advanced on a single by Turner and scored on Hemphill’s RBI single through the left side of the infield. Runyon followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 7-1.
The Gamecocks (20-11, 1-6 SEC) showed some fight in the sixth. Mackenzie Boesel led off the bottom of the inning with a home run, and a single and a hit batter set things up for Taylor Williams, who drove in another run with a single.
That’s all South Carolina could muster and Alabama closed out the contest.
Turner went 3-for-4 and scored three runs. Hemphill went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBIs, and outfielder Mari Cranek went 2-for-3.
Littlejohn (10-1) wasn’t her sharpest, but mostly scattered seven hits with four strikeouts and a walk. Lefty Madi Moore came in to coax a groundout from Boesel to end the game.