For the first time in 15 years, South Carolina softball defeated the top-ranked team in the country with Friday’s 7-2 victory over No.1/2 Florida State.
“This is a signature win,” said head coach Beverly Smith after the win. “Florida State is an outstanding opponent, but this is who you have to beat to achieve the goals this team has been talking about this year.”
The last time South Carolina defeated the No. 1 team in the country was in the first championship game game of the 2002 NCAA regional where they defeated UCLA.
For the Gamecocks, this win could become a season-defining win.
With 2-11 record against ranked opponents heading into the game, including 1-8 against top-ten ranked teams, this win over the Seminoles showed that South Carolina can compete against the top competition in the country.
And as they look to return to the NCAA tournament for the fifth-straight year, that type of win may have been needed.
South Carolina has improved upon its win total and NCAA RPI finish each of the last four seasons. In 2016, they finished with a 38-23 record, an RPI of 24 and a visit to the regional finals. Yet besting that and continuing on four years of growth seems challenging at this point of the season.
With the win over the Seminoles, South Carolina improved to 25-17 and the 22nd-best RPI in the nation with 12 games remaining on the schedule. Of these 12 games, 10 are against teams ranked in the top-20.
The win over Florida State could give them the momentum needed to make a late season run against these higher ranked teams, and continue building upon the success of recent years. And despite a loss to the Seminoles Saturday in the second game of the series, much can be taken from Friday's win.