Kristen Struett and Chelsea Hawkins each drove in two runs as South Carolina halted No. 13 LSU’s nine-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory in a Southeastern Conference softball series finale Sunday at Tiger Park.
“South Carolina played hard today,” LSU coach Beth Torina said. “They played harder than we did. They fought really hard, and they made good adjustments where we didn’t.
“(Pitcher) Rachele (Fico) doesn’t have to be perfect every time she takes the field. I know we expect her to be, but she doesn’t have to be. We are capable of scoring enough runs on a day where she doesn’t have her best stuff. We didn’t do that today.”
Struett, who went 3-for-3, had a two-out RBI single in the first inning, scoring Samie Garcia, who had a leadoff triple. She added a two-out single to score Alaynie Page, on with a one-out walk, to give South Carolina (18-11, 1-5 SEC) a 2-0 lead in the third.
The Gamecocks had lost 15 straight games to LSU, dating to 2008.
The Tigers (27-6, 7-2 SEC) closed to 2-1 on Kellsi Kloss’s two-out RBI double to right center field.
“We missed a couple chances,” Torina said. “Kellsi had the big RBI double, but she also had an opportunity with runners on second and third earlier in the game and didn’t come through. We had a lot of opportunities, all of them did. Kellsi swung well and some of the others did, too.
“Unfortunately for us, it wasn’t at the right times today.”
Hawkins’ two-run single down the right field line gave the Gamecocks a 4-1 lead in the fifth.
LSU put a baserunner on in each of the final three innings, but USC’s Audrey Broyles (7-4) finished off her complete game effort. She scattered one run on five hits and had two strikeouts and two walks.
“South Carolina came out today, and you could tell they didn’t want to be swept,” Kloss said. “They fought right away. They got that run in the first inning. Normally, we can come back from that. We can tell ourselves it’s not a big deal.
“By the time we got one and cut the lead in half, they put some more runs up next inning. We felt defeated, and that is not who we are. We shouldn’t feel that way, but today they got the best from us.”
Fico (16-4) suffered her first SEC loss of the season. All four runs were earned on seven hits. The senior right-hander tallied four strikeouts and three walks.
“They were able to string some hits together today,” Fico said.
“Things fell their way, but we need to come out and be better than that. We can’t let games like this get away from us.”
LSU completes its 10-game homestand Tuesday with its lone meeting of the 2013 season against Southeastern Louisiana. First pitch is 6 p.m. at Tiger Park.