South Carolina allowed an unearned run to score in the top of the first, but quickly made up for it as the team scored six in the bottom half of the inning to beat Mississippi State 8-1 to take yet another SEC series.
In the first inning, the Gamecocks sent 10 to the plate, scoring six runs that were highlighted by an Alyssa VanDerveer grand slam with help from a Cayla Drotar hit. Kenzi Maguire started the inning off with a double, which was followed by a single from Mackenzie Boesel.
VanDerveer said not much was going through her mind except, hitting the ball hard and attacking a pitch.
The other two Gamecock runs also came with the long ball. In the bottom of the fifth, Kennedy Clark hit a two-run homer to right center to seal the Gamecocks' 12th comeback win of the season.
“I think it factors into our players and our swings,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “I've got eight players in the lineup who can hit it out of the park.”
Another aspect of the Gamecocks' win was the ability of freshman pitcher Kelsey Oh to shut the Bulldogs down after allowing a run in the first.
Oh mentioned things happened with unearned runs, but gave a lot of credit for her teammates bouncing back and scoring six in the bottom half of the inning. Despite the unearned runs, Oh had faith in her team to execute fully.
“I think it shows ... Kelsey’s character,” Smith said of Oh's ability to put up six scoreless innings after giving up a run in the first. “She just made sure she took care of business after that.”
The Gamecocks improved to 40-11 (13-7 SEC) and secured their first 40-win season since 2003. For VanDerveer and her team, there is still much to be accomplished. This win against the Bulldogs helped shift positive momentum for their team and now the Gamecocks have beaten a ranked opponent 10 times, which is the most under Smith in a season.
“I think about the wins as being a testament to the players and their hard work,” Smith said. “For me, I just want to stay on this roll. We’re playing really good softball right now.”