Gamecock softball (18-2, 0-0 SEC) defeated the Winthrop Eagles 3-0, extending their winning streak to 15 games on Wednesday afternoon at Beckham Field.
Today’s win marked a 15-game winning streak for the second consecutive season. This is the first time the Gamecocks have won 10-straight games or more in consecutive seasons since the 1996 and 1997 seasons.
This is the second time South Carolina faced Winthrop this season. The Gamecocks also defeated the Eagles 15-1 in five innings on Feb. 24 in the Charlotte First Pitch Classic.
However, today’s outcome did not feature as much scoring. Both teams were hitless until the bottom of the third inning, when South Carolina’s Mackenzie Boesel singled to put runners on the corners with two outs.
After Jana Johns was hit by a pitch, Winthrop pitcher Kiley Majette got South Carolina’s Cayla Drotar to line out to get out of a bases loaded jam.
Both teams remained scoreless going into the fifth inning. Karly Heath allowed her first base hit of the game after a lead-off walk, allowing Winthrop to have runners on first and third base with one out. A double play assisted by Boesel and Maguire allowed Heath to escape without allowing a run.
The scoring did not start until the bottom of the fifth when Heath hit a solo home run to right-center field, putting South Carolina up 1-0.
“I just knew I had to get up there and had to start off something,” Heath said. “It just felt good to hit a home run and relieve some stress over my shoulders.”
Heath finished her day and ultimately earned the win with five scoreless innings and five strikeouts, allowing just one hit.
“I think that’s an awesome statement when you can be the winning pitcher and help yourself with a home run,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “I thought Karly’s performance on the mound tonight was excellent. She was ahead in the counts. She really controlled the hitters and really didn't get a lot of hard contact today.”
Gamecock pitcher Dixie Raley entered the game in the top of the sixth inning to relieve Heath. After a lead-off walk, catcher Jordan Fabian caught a Winthrop base runner attempting to steal second to retire the Eagles in the sixth inning.
South Carolina built its lead in the bottom of the sixth. Cayla Drotar got it started with a lead-off single, and Kennedy Clark followed with a double to put runners at second and third with no outs.
Lauren Stewart pushed across the second run of the game for South Carolina with a sacrifice-fly, and Madison Owens followed with a single to put the Gamecocks up 3-0 going into the seventh inning.
Raley started the top of the seventh with a walk and a base hit, putting runners on first and second with one out for Winthrop. With the tying run at the plate, Raley managed to get two groundouts to end the game. South Carolina defeated the Eagles 3-0 in its first shutout win of the season.
The Gamecocks will begin SEC play on Friday at home against No. 16 Kentucky. First pitch is at 6 p.m. on SEC Network Plus.
“We're excited to get started against Kentucky this weekend,” Smith said. “We're gonna go in with a lot of confidence. We’ve had a lot of good game experience.”