Hemphill, Turner lead the way for Alabama in 7-3 win over South CarolinaBy Ben Boynton | 03/26/2017 3:19pm
The first at-bat of Alabama-South Carolina was a leadoff homerun for the Gamecocks off senior pitcher Sydney Littlejohn, who entered the game third in the country in ERA with a 0.44 mark. She later gave up another solo home run and the Gamecocks ended up with three runs off Littlejohn.
It didn’t matter, as Alabama scored seven runs in the first three innings and cruised to a 7-3 victory on Friday night.
Freshman designated player Bailey Hemphill had two RBIs and junior second baseman Demi Turner went 3-4 with three hits from the leadoff spot to lead the Crimson Tide on offense.
“Today my mindset was just pretty much to set the tone for the team and have Sydney’s back,” Turner said. “We haven’t had her back lately and I was just really like [focused on] trying to take one at-bat at a time.”
Hemphill had gone five straight games without a hit, and said the caliber of SEC teams has taken some adjusting to.
“Obviously I’ve been struggling a little lately, but I’ve been putting in some work and got a little more confidence today,” Hemphill said. “It’s just like a different level in the SEC than other conference.”
The Gamecocks committed just a single error, but it was a critical one. The shortstop and center fielder collided with each other on a pop fly with two outs in the second inning, and Alabama was able to score two on the play and a total of four in the inning for a lead it never relinquished.
“That’s happened to us before,” coach Patrick Murphy said. “They’re right next to each other and then all of a sudden one of them ducks and the ball drops and you’ve got two runs scored…It was a lot of little things that were a lot better tonight.”
Alabama benefitted from several key defensive plays. Freshman center fielder Elissa Brown hustled to a fly ball in center field in the third inning, and junior shortstop Sydney Booker made a diving catch in the sixth inning that Murphy said was incredible.
“She just goes all out and dives like a major leaguer,” Murphy said. “And then Elissa’s, that was a shot that sometimes that line drive that’s kind of sinking is the toughest play to make, and both of them were really good plays.”
Sophomore catcher Reagan Dykes picked off a steal attempt at second base from South Carolina third baseman Kamryn Waters, who was 7-7 on stolen base attempts prior to the play. Turner said the defensive plays showed the effort Alabama puts into defense.
“Everyone wants just to go out there and have fun and go all out for our pitchers,” Turner said. “Every single game, they’re always doing their thing out there, and finally, you know, we got to back them up.”
Alabama will return to the field on Sunday. Due to the possibility of inclement weather, Saturday’s game has been moved to Sunday, and the teams will now play a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m.