Kristen Struett with a grand slam and six RBI leads offensive onslaught
COLUMBIA, SC Feb. 8, 2013 – South Carolina (1-0) exploded for 15 runs in the 2013 season opener, blasting past Stetson (0-2) 15-7 in five innings on Friday night at Patricia Wilson Field.
Sophomore designated player Kristen Struett led the barrage, going 2-for-3 with a walk-off grand slam, three runs scored and six RBI. Senior shortstop Samie Garcia and freshman left fielder Alaynie Page both went 3-for-3 with a double and a walk, both reaching all four times at the plate. Page also drove in two runs while scoring three times. Junior right fielder Chelsea Hawkins went 2-for-4 with three RBI, while redshirt sophomore first baseman Julie Sarratt added an RBI double on a 2-for-3 night.
The Hatters’ Chelsea Whalley drove in five of Stetson’s runs with a triple and a grand slam and ranked as the only Stetson player to collect two hits. Courtney Brandt and Demi Meza joined Whalley in scoring twice.
The Gamecocks posted four runs in the first, with Hawkins driving in the first run on her single to right center. Struett followed with her hit to left, driving home junior centerfielder Ashlyn Masters and Hawkins. When the Hatter pitcher Brandt tried to get Struett at second, the throw went to the center-field wall, allowing Struett to score as well. The lead moved to 5-0 in the second when junior pinch runner Brooke Barnhill beat the throw home from the Hatter shortstop on junior second baseman Dana Hathorn’s fielder’s choice.
Stetson closed the gap in the top of the fourth to 5-3 on Meza’s solo homer, Whalley’s RBI triple, which scored Brandt after her double, and Jordan Cleghorn’s squeeze bunt. But South Carolina responded with four more in the fourth, with Hawkins plating two on a single to left center. She later scored on a double steal, and Struett scored when Sarratt doubled to the right-center field gap.
The Hatters made it a two-run game again in the fifth when Whalley stepped up with two down and the bases loaded and hit the 2-2 pitch just over the left-field wall for the grand slam.
South Carolina came back to end the game two innings early, as Page drove in redshirt senior third baseman Kelley Dillon and Garcia with a double to right center. Hathorn and Masters reached on a hit by pitch and a four-pitch walk, respectively, loading the bases. Hatter reliever Meredith Owen got one out on an infield fly, but Struett followed by punching the 1-0 pitch over the 209 ft. sign in center to close out the game.
Redshirt senior Audrey Broyles (1-0) picked up the win, giving up three earned runs on four hits and a walk in 3.1 innings of work, fanning two. Brandt (0-1) took the loss, allowing five runs, four earned, on five hits and four walks.
The Gamecocks got the leadoff runner on base in all five innings and scored in four. The 15 runs scored by the Gamecocks is the most by a Gamecock team in a season opener in the NCAA era.
South Carolina plays twice on Saturday, with a 1:30 p.m. EST against Michigan State and a 4 p.m. rematch against Stetson. Both games will be carried with a live audio stream on GamecocksOnline.com.