On Wednesday night at Beckham Field, South Carolina’s softball team earned another non-conference win by defeating the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 7-4.
The Gamecocks came into this matchup ranked No. 13 with an 11-2 record, including a 6-0 home record while on an eight-game winning streak.
Coastal Carolina’s Kassidy Smith put the Chanticleers up 1-0 on the second pitch of the game with a solo home run off of Gamecock pitcher Karly Heath. The Chanticleers got out of trouble in the bottom of the first with a ground out to strand Gamecock runners on second and third base.
Coastal Carolina built their lead to 2-0 in the second inning with a two-out rally. Heath started off the inning with two strikeouts but gave up a walk and an RBI triple to Alexis Alvino.
The Gamecocks came back strong in the third inning, as Kenzi Maguire and Mackenzie Boesel led off with two base hits. Cayla Drotar followed with a three-run home run to left-center field to put South Carolina up 3-2.
“I just went up to the plate, doing my game, and I told myself to relax and see the ball and hit the ball,” Drotar said. “I just try to go in there and stay relaxed and calm because if you try to do too much, it just puts too much pressure on you.”
Heath faced minor trouble in the fourth inning, giving up a lead-off single. Heath finished the game with four complete innings, a career-high six strikeouts and gave up a total of two earned runs after getting two strikeouts to retire the Chanticleers in the inning.
“I thought Karly did a nice job tonight,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “I think she calmed down. She had some nice strikeouts and really managed the game well.”
South Carolina built its lead in the bottom of the fourth. Alexis Lindsey got on base with a lead-off walk, and Madison Owens followed with a bunt single. Kenzi Maguire then hit a three-run home run to center field to put the Gamecocks up 6-2.
“I think it’s tough for any pitcher to probably have to go through our entire lineup,” Smith said. “There’s a gauntlet there, and Kenzi Maguire is certainly swinging a great bat.”
The Gamecocks continued to rally in the fourth with a single from Boesel and a Jana Johns walk. Kennedy Clark hit a sacrifice-fly to increase the lead to 7-2.
Cayla Drotar took over in the circle for the Gamecocks in the fifth inning. After a solo home run from Coastal Carolina’s Courtney Dean, the Chanticleers would go to bat in the top of the seventh inning trailing 7-3.
Coastal Carolina did not go down quietly in the seventh. Drotar started off the inning with a couple of walks. After pushing across a fourth run, the Chanticleers had the bases loaded with no outs, trailing by only three runs.
With the go-ahead run at the plate, Drotar battled back with two strikeouts and got a ground out to end the game. South Carolina defeated the Chanticleers 7-4.
“I just let my ball get away from me, and that’s something that I need to sharpen up,” Drotar said, referring to her pitching performance tonight. “I just try to keep it simple, and I just turned around and looked at my defense, and I realized that I’m doing it for them.”
The Gamecocks move to 12-2 on the season and extend their winning streak to nine games. South Carolina is also now 56-7 overall against in-state schools.
The Gamecocks will travel to Tampa, Florida to play in the South Florida Tournament this weekend. The first game of the tournament will be on Friday, March 1 against Ball State at 11:30 a.m.
“I think it’s going to be a big test,” Smith said, referring to the South Florida Tournament. “One, we are on the road. Two, we are playing some really good softball teams that are having nice seasons right now, and I think that they’ll compete for their conference titles. I’m looking forward to it.”