Gamecocks earn 1st win in new stadium Wednesday
Senior shortstop Samie Garcia took the field for USC’s softball team Wednesday against Appalachian State for the first time since being selected 14th overall in Sunday’s National Pro Fastpitch Draft.
“It was just really cool, and I didn’t really expect it,” Garcia said. “Yeah, I’m just really, really happy.”
Garcia, a second-team All-SEC selection in 2012, will play for the New York/New Jersey Comets after she wraps up her career at South Carolina. She is Coach Beverly Smith’s first professional draftee at the helm of Gamecock softball, but Smith bestows all the credit for the achievement on her shortstop.
“I think it’s a huge honor for (Garcia),” Smith said. “She’s certainly worked hard … And I think she’s really excited about playing at the next level.”
USC raced out to a comfortable lead with a four-run first inning, and the early cushion proved to be enough as the Gamecocks took the contest in shutout fashion with a final score of 5-0.
“To be able to come out in the first inning and score runs, it really takes the pressure off the defense and off the pitchers when you can score early,” Smith said.
South Carolina’s first home win of the season brings the Gamecocks’ record to 19-14 on the year.
Garcia entered Wednesday’s contest second in the nation in triples and launched herself into a tie for the lead with a shot down the right-field line in the fifth inning that was good for three bases. Despite her lofty numbers in the extra bases category, Garcia says she just wants to get on base when she’s at the plate.
“I just try to make contact,” Garcia said. “I just try to have quality at-bats and just try to hit the ball hard.”
Smith said she doesn’t talk to Garcia about going for extra base hits and that the shortstop’s get-on-base attitude is what makes her such a good leadoff hitter.
Garcia entered Wednesday’s game with a staggering .429 batting average and did nothing to hurt that number with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate. Along with her lead in triples and her top-10 mark in batting average, Garcia has cracked the top 10 of seven other offensive categories in the SEC.
Redshirt sophomore Julie Sarratt picked up her third win of the season Wednesday to move above .500 on the year. The pitcher allowed just three hits and registered four strikeouts in five innings of work before closing out the game at first base.
South Carolina will resume its 10-game home stand Friday when the Gamecocks face No. 21/20 Kentucky in the three-game set.
Wednesday’s win was the team’s first ever at Beckham Field, the brand-new home of Gamecock softball. The contest was the fourth game to be played at the stadium since its grand opening in March, when South Carolina lost three games to defending national champion Alabama in the stadium’s inaugural series.
“To come out and get the first win in the stadium was great,” Smith said. “I just think our girls are excited about being here and playing in front of our fans and getting that home-field advantage.”