Strong pitching by Marks, Sarratt lift softball over Chanticleers Wednesday
After scoring eight runs in three games over the weekend, the South Carolina offense came to life against Coastal Carolina Wednesday.
USC softball swept the Chanticleers in a doubleheader at Beckham Field, scoring in the first four innings of the nightcap on the way to a 5-3 win.
Coastal Carolina struck with a run in the first inning, but an RBI double by sophomore center fielder Kristen Struett tied the game in the bottom.
With the Gamecocks trailing 3-2 in the third, a triple by triple by junior right fielder Chelsea Hawkins scored two runs to give USC the lead. Freshman left fielder Alaynie Page added a solo home run in the fourth.
USC had a chance to break the game open in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs, but a fly-out ended the inning.
Starting pitcher Audrey Broyles was removed with two outs and two runners on in the third inning, but freshman Katie Marks was strong in relief, retiring the first 10 hitters she faced.
“That’s what I expect from Katie,” coach Beverly Smith said. “She’s a high-caliber pitcher, and she came in and really asserted herself.”
Marks ran into trouble in the top of the seventh, putting two batters on base with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Smith went onto the mound to talk to her, telling her to stay relaxed. After a bunt advanced the runners, she forced a double play to end the inning.
“[Smith] just came out and said … go right at them,” Marks said. “We have a lead. Let your defense work. That’s what I did. I came back and threw a few strikes, and the defense took care of it.”
South Carolina dominated the first game of the doubleheader 10-2 behind a strong pitching performance from redshirt sophomore Julie Sarratt. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for South Carolina.
Sarratt needed 98 pitches to get through six innings, giving up two runs. Smith said the offensive surge allowed her to relax, but her changeup was the key to her strong start.
“It’s her best pitch,” Smith said. “She can throw it in any count, and it really keeps good hitters off balance.”
South Carolina scored four runs in the first inning to take the lead for good. Seven players had at least one RBI, but junior second baseman Dana Hathorn led the team with four hits in four at-bats. According to Smith, some of USC’s best at-bats came with runners in scoring position, which was a focus in practice this week.
The Gamecocks will continue their home stand this weekend, hosting the Bulldogs in a three-game series. Georgia is in fifth place in the SEC East after being swept by Tennessee last weekend.
“These two wins were huge,” Marks said. “I think it refuels our confidence as a team. Going into the weekend, we’re just going to let the snowball roll.”