The South Carolina softball team faced off against No. 19 Arkansas in its first SEC series of the season at home this weekend. The Gamecocks came into the series riding a two game win streak against North Carolina and Georgia Southern. Despite this, the Gamecocks were swept for the first time this season.
The Gamecocks were met with a 4-1 loss in its opening game against the Razorbacks Friday night.
The night began slow offensively, with neither team cracking the scoreboard until the fifth inning. This was in part due to both teams pitching their aces, senior Kelsey Oh for the Gamecocks and redshirt junior Mary Haff for the Razorbacks.
Oh put together a strong performance together for the night, according to head coach Beverly Smith, giving four up runs and pitching all seven innings.
Gamecock junior catcher Jordan Fabian said Oh was "pretty consistent the whole time," but Arkansas "ran into a few balls."
Oh held the Razorbacks to seven hits on the night, but was hurt by a pair of home runs given up in the late innings. Meanwhile, Haff put on a masterful performance for the Razorbacks, striking out 10 and only giving up a single run while pitching the entire game.
Smith said this was a good "welcome to SEC play" moment for the team. According to Smith, there is “no bad pitching in our league play,” and it is something "we've got to be ready for."
While the Gamecocks only scratched across one run on the night, they only had one less hit. Fabian said the team failed to string the hits together.
The Gamecocks resumed action on Saturday afternoon for game two of the series, where they suffered a 7-5 loss after 10 innings.
The afternoon started slowly for both sides. At the top of the third, the Razorbacks opened the score sheet with two runs. The Gamecocks quickly responded with scores from freshman outfielder Aaliyah White, freshman infielder Maddie Gallagher and graduate infielders Mackenzie Boesel and Kenzi Maguire.
Smith said the third inning response was important because the team tried to "get things going at the top of the lineup, and we were able to produce a big inning there in the third.”
By the bottom of the seventh inning, the teams were tied at 5 points. The game remained undecided until the 10th inning of play, when the Razorbacks hit a home run with one runner on first.
One of the biggest takeaways from today's game was the will to compete among Smith’s team.
“I liked our fight; I liked the grit we were showing in the dugout. And I think that if we can compete like we were competing in that game, we’re going to be just fine,” Smith said.
The Gamecocks came into the final game of their three-game series against Arkansas on Sunday, where they ultimately lost 3-2.
Arkansas put up two runs in the first inning alone. The Gamecocks put up a total of 2 points in the third inning. The win allowed Arkansas to pick up its 19th consecutive win.
Smith said Arkansas was a strong opponent and that there are things the Gamecocks can do to play a better game.
“Arkansas can certainly swing the bat," Smith said. "For us, on the flip side offensively, we’ve got more options, you know; we can put the ball in play and make things happen, and we just didn’t get a lot going for ourselves on the offensive side."
Despite a tough series weekend, Boesel broke a 23-year-old team record for the most doubles in a career, her 59th.
“It meant a lot; it was something that I’ve been working towards throughout my career, and to be able to come back and finish what I had started, really exciting moment,” Boesel said.
The Gamecocks return to play at home against Gardner-Webb University in a double-header Tuesday. The first game starts at 2:30.