Alabama softball fell behind early but quickly rallied to defeat South Carolina, 7-3, in Friday’s series opener at Rhoads Stadium.

Alabama (28-3, 5-1 SEC) was down in the first inning after a leadoff home run by South Carolina (20-11, 1-6 SEC) but the Crimson Tide tied it up in the bottom half and then moved in front in the second, holding the lead the rest of the way. Demi Turner set the tone at the leadoff spot, going 3-4 with three runs scored. Bailey Hemphill drove in a pair of runs on a first-inning double and a third-inning single and Mari Cranek also tallied a pair of hits, plating a run on a bases-loaded walk. Starter Sydney Littlejohn (10-1) earned the win with 6.2 innings pitched with Madi Moore entering in the seventh to secure the final out.

It didn’t take long for South Carolina to get on the board in the top of the first, as leadoff hitter Kaylea Snaer smacked a solo home run to start the game and give the visitors an early 1-0 lead. Hemphill evened the score in the bottom half of the inning with a hard-hit double off the wall in center field, scoring Turner to make it 1-1. Alabama would load the bases but could not take the lead as it remained tied heading to the second.

With the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the second, a collision in the outfield caused a dropped ball and allowed Alabama to plate two unearned runs on the error. Peyton Grantham added another with an RBI single through the left side and a bases-loaded walk to Cranek later in the inning made it 5-1.

Elissa Brown and Turner led off the bottom of the third with back-to-back hits before Chandler Dare sacrificed the pair into scoring position, forcing a pitching change for South Carolina as Cayla Drotar stepped into the circle. A deep fly ball by Marisa Runyon would allow Turner to tag up and score on the sac fly, stretching the lead to 7-1 before a strikeout ended the inning.

The Gamecocks chiseled into the deficit with a solo home run in the top of the sixth, making it 7-2, before an RBI single added a third run. That lead would eventually prove final for Alabama, winning the series opener by five runs.

With inclement weather in the forecast for Saturday, the teams will conclude its weekend series with a doubleheader starting at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday, March 26.