The Stetson softball team (0-2) dropped both its games on opening day, falling 4-1 to Michigan State and 15-7 to South Carolina in the Stetson Lead-Off Classic at Patricia Wilson Field.
A large crowd of 688 saw Hatter senior Chelsea Whalley hit a triple, a grand slam and drive in five runs against the Gamecocks (1-0). Sophomore Demi Meza also homered and had two hits on the day.
"We were playing two very good teams today," Stetson head coach Frank Griffin said. "We started four freshmen and two sophomores in the game against South Carolina, and I expected them to get rattled at times, and they did. It's great experience for them. At this time of year it's better to play better teams that show you what your weaknesses are so you can work on them."
In the opener, Michigan State starter Kelly Smith struck out 10 batters over 5.1 innings to help lead the Spartans (1-0). Stetson's lone run came on an RBI single by Jordan Cleghorn in the bottom of the sixth.
A wild offensive contest in the nightcap turned out to be the highest scoring game in Patricia Wilson Field history. South Carolina (1-0) scored four runs in the first and one in the second and led 5-0 after three.
Meza hit a solo home run in the top of the fourth to put Stetson on the board. Later in the inning, Whalley drove in Courtney Brandt with a triple to center and scored on a squeeze bunt by Cleghorn.
South Carolina got those three runs back plus one in the bottom of the fourth to grab a 9-3 lead.
In the fifth, Whalley found herself up with the bases loaded and two outs, and on a 2-2 pitch drove one the other way for her first career grand slam. That pulled Stetson within two runs at 9-7.
The Gamecocks answered back again, and with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Kristen Struett hit a grand slam of her own to lift South Carolina to a 15-7 run-rule victory.
"We certainly need to get better in all areas, but I walk away positive tonight," Griffin said. "I think we are going to continue to improve, and our young players are going to continue to get experience, and that's all going to be a positive thing for the program."
Stetson will face the same two teams again tomorrow, battling South Carolina at 4 p.m. and Michigan State at 6:30 p.m.
Game Notes: Chelsea Whalley hit Stetson's first triple and first grand slam since the 2011 season ... The Hatters and Gamecocks met for the first time in 25 years ... The Hatters started three freshmen in a season opener for the first time since 2003.