The South Carolina Gamecock softball team earned its sixth straight victory with a 5-3 win over Georgia Southern. The No. 16 Gamecocks haven't lost a game since Feb. 15, where they fell to Washington 5-4 during the 2020 St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational.
In the first inning, sophomore right-handed pitcher Karly Heath struck out the first three batters. Head coach Beverly Smith said Heath's ability to keep "batters off balance" is a key factor to her recent success.
On the third pitch of the bottom half of the first inning, redshirt senior shortstop Kenzi Maquire sent the ball over the center field wall for a home run, giving the Gamecocks an early one-run lead. Junior designated player Katie Prebble added to the score on a sacrifice fly RBI to put South Carolina up 2-0 heading into the second inning.
“I really like it when we score first,” Smith said.
In the third inning, Prebble sent an inside fastball over the fence to add two more runs to the team's lead.
“Once [Prebble] hit it, we were like, 'Yep, let’s go, out the dugout,'” Heath said.
Smith said she thought Prebble showed her ability to "smoke a ball". There are many Gamecocks that can “change the game in one swing,” according to Smith.
Heath settled in comfortably with a solid lead, pitching a total of four innings and giving up one earned run on one hit. She racked up six strikeouts and issued four walks. This resulted in her second consecutive win.
"[Heath] has always been consistent for us,” Prebble said.
The final three innings of the game had a pair of Gamecock freshmen right-handed pitchers on the bump, the first of which was Karsen Ochs.
Ochs pitched 2.1 innings, giving up three hits. She gave up two earned runs via a two-RBI single off the bat of Georgia Southern's freshman third baseman Bailee Wilson in the top of the seventh inning.
Following the single, freshman Bailey Betenbaugh was given the pitching duties with a two run lead and the game-tying run on base. She pitched 0.2 innings, striking out one batter and forcing the other to fly out. She earned a save, and Smith said Betenbaugh had a “statement outing” on the mound.
The Gamecocks now set their sights on the Black & Garnet Challenge, where they will play against Troy and Charlotte twice each. The team's “biggest focus," according to Prebble, "is keeping this momentum up.”
The first game of the Black & Garnet Challenge will be held at Beckham Field on Feb. 29. South Carolina will play Troy in this matchup, and the first pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.