Team is coming off first conference series win of the season
The South Carolina softball team (17-8, 2-4 SEC) hits the field again today to take on the No. 16 Minnesota Golden Gophers (21-3), a team that bested them 11-4 about a month ago in the Arizona State Louisville Slugger Invitational.
Though South Carolina matched the Gophers hit-for-hit, Minnesota jumped on the Gamecocks early, taking a 7-0 lead in the second inning, a deficit the team wasn’t able to recover from. This time around, freshman Kaylea Snaer is sure her teammates will be able to convert some of those hits into runs this time.
“We need to be able to get those timely hits and string together some runs, but the biggest thing we need to do to beat them is to play good defense,” Snaer said. “That being said, we are definitely ready to beat Minnesota. We know what they have in store for us, and we’re ready for them.”
After starting the season hot with a 14-4 record, the Gamecocks fell back to Earth some after they started SEC play, going 2-4 in 6 games. That mark includes being swept by No. 7 Alabama a little over a week ago.
On the bright side, however, the team was able to win a hard-fought series against a highly ranked Texas A&M squad over the weekend, which is a big accomplishment and exactly what coach Beverly Smith has started to expect out of her team.
Senior Ashlyn Masters lifted the team to its first conference win of the season against the Aggies, ripping a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to win game two 2-1. The Gamecocks dropped three runs on Texas A&M in the first inning of game three and added one more in the fifth inning to win the game and the series. The Aggies would push two runs across in the top of the seventh inning, but it wasn’t enough.
Snaer did concede that while the team’s play these past couple weeks hasn’t necessarily been up to par, there is light at the end of the tunnel, even with the toughest part of the season yet to come.
“We were pleased to have taken the series against Texas A&M for our home opener but still have a job to do against the best of the SEC teams,” Snaer said. “We didn’t get the best start against Alabama, but that will not determine how we will finish the rest of our season.”
When asked how the team’s goals for the season were aligning with their current performances, Snaer acknowledged that many of the team’s aspirations lie at the end of the season and haven’t been decided yet.
At the beginning of the season, during spring training, there seemed to be a consensus, especially among the seniors, that the NCAA tournament was the goal, followed closely by excellent conference play. The two are usually a package deal, which makes every game all the more crucial.