WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. - For the third-consecutive year, the South Carolina Gamecocks faced off against the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) All-Stars in an exhibition, but it was a tighter game, with the NPF squad taking an 8-2 win on Thursday night in front of 560 fans at the Pine Grove Complex.
The Gamecocks got an inside-the-park home run from junior second baseman Dana Hathorn in the sixth, while sophomore first baseman Olivia Lawrence added a triple. Redshirt senior Kelley Dillon and junior Ashlyn Masters also had hits for South Carolina. Kelly Kretschman led the NPF team with a 3-for-4 night with a double and five RBI. Charlotte Morgan had a homer as well for the pros.
Kretschman got the all-stars on the board in the third with a two-RBI single, scoring Ashley Charters and Jenn Salling after the duo led off the frame with hits. Salling scored again in the fourth after a bunt single, two errors that let her reach third and GiOnna DeSalvatore's sacrifice fly.
South Carolina got a run back in the bottom of the fifth when Lawrence placed one over the leftfielder's head and raced to third for a one-out triple. Dillon stepped up and put down a bunt, beating it out while Lawrence scored on the play.
But the NPF All-Stars posted four in the sixth, with DiSalvator driving in another run on a fielder's choice. A walk to Morgan loaded the bags for Kretschman, who found the gap in left center to clear the loaded bases.
In the bottom of the sixth, Hathorn sent one over the leftfielder's glove that rolled all the way to the temporary wall, allowing her to complete the inside-the-park homer.
Freshman Katie Marks struck out four in four innings of work, giving up two earned runs on five hits and a walk in the start. Redshirt senior Audrey Broyles shut down the pros in her 1.2 innings of work, fanning two while not allowing a baserunner. Kristina Thorson scored the win for the all-stars, giving up two earned runs on four hits and a walk while striking out seven.
Gamecock freshman left fielder Alaynie Page impressed the onlookers in the field, making a nice over-the-shoulder catch at one point while also throwing a strike to the plate to hold Salling at third on what could have been a sacrifice fly.
Postgame, both teams signed autographs for the dozens of youth players in attendance. Many of those players will return on Saturday for a clinic with the NPF players.
The Gamecocks close their fall campaign this weekend at Appalachian State.
About National Pro Fastpitch:
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.