South Carolina’s offense came alive this weekend, scoring 20 runs in the weekend sweep over Missouri. This was the first time ever that the Gamecock softball team has swept the Tigers and the all time series is currently at eight wins apiece.
The 20 runs were especially impressive, as the Gamecocks had only scored three runs in the four losses prior to this weekend’s series. Shortstop Kenzi Maguire called it “redemption” to score the 20 runs after how the Gamecocks performed in the games leading up. South Carolina won the three games by scores of 6-3, 8-3 and 6-2. Their target as a team is to score five runs each game and the Gamecocks did more than that this weekend.
“I just needed us to get back to being competitive at the plate,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “I felt like our team did that all weekend long.”
The Gamecocks did most of their damage over the weekend via the long ball, hitting six homeruns over the weekend. In addition, they had “heads up” base running all series long, which is something that their team takes a lot of dignity in.
“There’s something on the practice plan every day for base running,” Smith said. “It's something we’ve spent time on and we take a lot of pride in.”
The star of the series was undoubtedly Cayla Drotar. After leaving Friday’s game with a “right leg bruise” three batters in, she homered twice on Saturday. Then on Sunday, Drotar pitched a complete game, allowing just two runs, both solo shots, one five hits. She threw 99 pitches and 62 were strikes. She also induced 12 groundouts in Sunday’s win.
“Friday, I really thought that something happened to my knee ... I was really scared,” Drotar said. She added that she scheduled a doctor’s appointment Saturday morning, but felt much better.
The Gamecocks sweep of the Tigers was the first time since 2007 that they have swept two three-game SEC series in a season. After struggling the week before, the team felt like getting this sweep was a huge way to get back on track.
“I think to come out and get three games on a really strong Missouri team, is a great bounce back and a great answer from our last series,” Smith said.
The Gamecocks (37-11, 11-8 SEC) have now tied their most conference wins in a season under Smith, who started coaching at South Carolina in 2011. South Carolina will travel to Spartanburg on Wednesday to take on USC Upstate at 6 p.m. before closing out their SEC home schedule against Mississippi State in a three game series that starts Friday at 6 p.m.