Senior Brittany Nelson (Flower Mound, Texas/Marcus) won the first game with a dramatic two-run pinch hit home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Lady Chants a 2-1 victory. The second game proved to be just as thrilling as senior Meagen Johnson (Georgetown, S.C./Georgetown (Furman) singled through the right side to drive in the game-winner in the eighth inning and give Coastal the extra inning 6-5 win.
The first game was a great pitcher's duel. Coastal redshirt junior Christine Doyle (Rio Rico, Ariz./Immaculate Heart Academy (NJ)) and South Carolina righthander Christine Hamilton went the first five innings unscathed. In the sixth inning the Gamecocks pushed a run across as Margaret Person walked to start the inning. She moved to second on the single off the bat of Jessica Josker. A walk to Ashton Payne loaded the bases with nobody out. Doyle induced the next batter, McKenna Hughes, to ground a ball back to her in which she choose to take the lead runner, Person, out at the plate. A fielder choice hit deep in the hole at short, off the bat of Chrissy Schoonmaker elimated Payne at third but allowed Josker to score the first run of the game and give South Carolina a 1-0 advantage.
The game remained the same until the bottom of the seventh inning as junior Kimberly Cills (Magnolia, Texas/Magnolia) reached on a one-out fielder choice. Freshman Whitney Gibson (Knoxville, Tenn./Webb School of Knoxville) pinch ran for Cillis and was on for the ride on the two-run pinch hit home run from Nelson.
Doyle was the game one winner for Coastal as she went the distance allowing only one run on three hits with five strikeouts. Hamilton was the tough luck game one loser, as she only gave up only three hits and two runs with eight strikeouts.
South Carolina took the early lead 1-0 in the second inning of the second game as Schoonmaker lead off the frame with her second home run of the season.
The Gamecocks added two runs to the lead in the third inning, as Josker walked to start the inning and went to second on the bunt single from Payne. Both runners moved up a base on a single through the left side from McKenna Hughes to load the bases. Coastal's Nelson nearly pitched herself out of the sticky situation as she retired the next two South Carolina batters on a pop and a strike out, but Lisa Longo drilled a sinking line drive to right field that glanced off junior Carla Hood's (Marion, S.C./Marion) glove to drive in Josker and Hughes and give the Gamecocks a 3-0 lead.
CCU rallied for a pair of runs in the third without the benefit of a hit. Hood led off the frame by reaching first on a fielding error by the South Carolina third baseman, Schoonmaker. After a strikeout, Hostetler hit a ball to Schoonmaker at third that she threw away as she attempted to force the lead runner, Hood, out at second. A fielder choice by Tolleson took Hostetler out at second for the second out as Hood advanced to third. A pass ball scored Hood from third and advanced Tolleson into scoring position on second. Johnson followed by hitting a ground ball to the South Carolina second baseman, Payne, that went through her legs to score Tolleson from second and cut the deficit to one at 3-2.
South Carolina rallied to get the two runs back in the fourth inning, as Jacqueline Wetherbee struck out but reach first on a wild pitch to start the inning. A Josker one-out walk moved her to second. Both runners moved up a base on the sacrifice bunt from Payne. Hughes scored both Wetherbee and Josker with a double to left field to give USC a commanding 5-2 lead.
The Lady Chants tied the game up with three runs in the fifth. Hood doubled to right field to begin the frame. A single off the pitcher by senior Katey Allen (Lewiston, Idaho/Lewiston (Albertson College) put runners on first and second. After a pitching change, junior Danyelle Gerdts (Colorado Springs, Colo./Air Academy) pinch ran for Hood and she and Allen moved up a base on the single to left field from Sara Hostetler (Albuquerque, N.M./Valley), Tolleson struck out for the first out, but a wild pitch on the third strike scored Danyelle Gerdts and moved both Allen and Hostetler into scoring position. A Johnson single drove in Allen for the second run of the frame and moved Hostetler to third base. Johnson was thrown out at second for the second out as she attempted to take second on the throw to third. Kelly Feely (Livermore, Calif./Granada) followed with an RBI double to left field to score Hostetler and tie the game up at five all.
The game remained five all until the bottom of the eighth inning when Tolleson was placed on second due to the international tie breaker rule to start the inning. She came in to score the game-winner on the Johnson single through the right side.
Doyle (13-6) pitched the last three innings in relief to win the second game. Hamilton (12-11) dropped the second game, as well, as she came in relief to start the eighth.
Coastal's softball team next takes the field on Saturday, April 15 against conference rival Charleston Southern in a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m.
Notes: Coastal has now defeated South Carolina in each of their last three meetings... Nelson's pinch hit home run was her second pinch hit home run of the season and her fifth overall home run.