Columbia, S.C.-Tennessee State softball recorded its first win over a Southeastern Conference opponent in program history by defeating South Carolina at Columbia in front of 482 fans on Friday afternoon. The Tigers and second year head coach Jeff Dabney, picked up a win in their season opener for the second consecutive year as they beat the Gamecocks 4-2.
TSU was the designated home team on the Gamecocks field due to rules set up for the Palmetto Classic. USC would go down in order to start the game, while the Tigers used their half of the first to try and catch their opponents' off-guard.
Junior Jennifer Givens got things started as she shot a ball through the middle of the infield to pick up her first hit as a Tiger. Tedra Alford followed up with a bunt, but USC pitcher Kierstyn White (0-1) attempted unsuccessfully to throw Givens out at second base.
TSU would score the first run as Givens and Alford broke for third and second, respectively. Givens would beat the throw and scampered home as USC catcher Shelby Gonzales could not connect with the shortstop and sailed the ball into left field. Alford, who picked up the steal of second, advanced to third when the outfielder threw home. Two batters later, Alford scored as an illegal pitch was called on White to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead after one inning of play.
South Carolina came right back in the second as they picked up four hits and took advantage of a passed ball to tie the game at 2-2. Gonzales popped a ball just inside the leftfield line for a two out single that allowed Evan Childs and Dana Hathorn to cross the plate.
The tie was short lived as TSU responded in the bottom half of the second inning. After two outs, Givens picked up her second hit of the game and proceeded to swipe her second bag of the day. Alford worked a walk to bring sophomore transfer Devin Amar to the plate. The Oxnard, Calif., native would deliver with a double to the wall in left center that plated both runners to put the Tigers back on top 4-2.
That would be all freshman pitcher Shea Morris (1-0) needed in her debut, as she held the Gamecocks off with just the four hits surrendered in the second inning. Morris awarded her lone walk of the game with two outs in the fourth and would not let another opponent on base until the first batter of the seventh inning. Hathorn reached in the final inning off an error, but the first-year pitcher showed no effects as she retired the next three batters without allowing Hathorn to advance.
Morris completed all seven innings striking out three and giving up just one earned run on four hits and one walk.
Givens and Amar each finished 2-for-3, with the junior scoring twice and two stolen bases, while the sophomore picked up the double and two RBI.
Freshman Savannah Gutierrez notched her first career hit as she went 1-for-3.
TSU will take to field on Saturday for day two of the Palmetto Classic at 5 p.m. ET, versus Cleveland State. The Vikings dropped two hard fought games earlier in the day; 4-3 to Western Kentucky and 3-1 to Winthrop. Live stats for all games this weekend can be found on tsutigers.com.