COLUMBIA, S.C. -Coastal's Brittany Nelson (Flower Mound, TX/Marcus) pitched a terrific game for Coastal Carolina University softball team, going the distance for CCU as Coastal defeated South Carolina in the Championship Game of the Gamecock Invitational on Sunday evening, Feb. 6th.
The game was scoreless in the first inning, but in the second inning Coastal loaded the bases with one out as sophomore Danyelle Gerdts (Colorado Springs, C0./Air Academy) and Kelly Feely (Livermore, CA./Granda) singled back to back. Senior Delane Grainger (Scottsdale, AZ/Chapparral) followed with a single that the shortstop couldn't make a play on from deep in the hole to load the bases. As sophomore Kristina Sheppard (Galveston, TX/Ball) stepped to the plate, the game had reached its first pivotal point.
Sheppard delivered by looped a ball over the shortstop out stretched hand to drive in the first run of the afternoon. Teammate junior Katey Allen (Berrien Springs, MI/Lakeshore) followed with a solid hit to left to drive in the second run of the game. Allison Cantrell (McDonough, GA/Eagle's Landing) followed with a bases loaded walk to drive in the third run of the frame for Coastal. But Gamecocks relief pitcher freshman Jessica Barnes was able to right the ship and retire CCU on shallow fly ball and a strike out to end a productive inning for the Lady Chanticleers.
The game remained this way through the top of the seventh inning as both righthanders, Barnes and Nelson were locking up in a real duel. Nelson only allowed three hits in seven innings of work while Barnes struck out seven in her 5 2/3 innings of relief.
Nursing a three lead in the bottom of the 7th inning, the inning started off troublesome as Coastal commited an error to put the leadoff man on base for USC, Stefanie Norman. Lisa Longo followed with a single to put runners on first and third. But again Nelson came up big by retiring the next two batters on a fly out and a strike out. This brought up another pivotal situation, South Carolina Becky Martinez came up with a huge two out single that drove in two to make the margin a single run. Nelson proved to be to the challenge as she struck out Kristi Hutchins to end the game and gave Coastal a 3-2 victory over SEC foe South Carolina.
Next up for the Lady Chants is a trip to Florida to participate in the Gator Invitational in a weekend tournament. CCU will begin next weekend with a 12:30 p.m. game against Florida on Friday, Feb. 11, with a game against South Florida to follow at 6:30 p.m.