Gamecocks softball faced off against Gardner-Webb in a doubleheader matchup on Tuesday at Beckham Field. South Carolina came into the games with three losses against Arkansas in its first SEC series of the season. Despite the setback, the team responded well and dominated the Bulldogs in both games.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Gamecocks crushed Gardner-Webb 12-4.
When the Gamecocks got up to the plate, the team did not sit down. The entire lineup batted in the first inning, and the Gardner-Webb pitcher faced the first nine batters with only a single out recorded.
South Carolina errors in the field allowed 2 runs to score for Gardner-Webb, but Garder-Webb later struggled with errors of its own. At the top of the first inning Gamecock pitcher, Cayla Drotar, struggled to find the strikezone leading to multiple walks without a strike in the at bat, which later were batted in.
Consistent walks put the Gamecocks in prime position to drive Garder-Webb in.
”Drawing ten walks in the first game, I thought that was big,“ head coach Beverly Smith said.
After graduate student pitcher Cayla Drotar’s first start, sophomore Karsen Ochs was subbed in. The last two innings of the game Ochs faced six batters and allowed none on base, shutting Gardner-Webb down.
The key to South Carolina’s success was that it seemed to always have someone on base throughout the inning. It spread out the infield and kept the pitcher on her toes, not to mention it had the threat of bunting and sacrificing for RBI’s. Overall the Gamecocks did not let up on offense or defense leading to a 12-4 win.
The Gamecocks came into its second game against Gardner-Webb with positive momentum from its victory earlier that day.
In the second game of the double-header, the Gamecocks swept the Bulldogs with an impressive 8-0 win.
South Carolina was strong on both sides of the ball, scoring 8 points and conceding none.
“Today was a nice response to be able to come back, bounce back and get two wins today was big for our team,” Smith said.
The standout moment from the game was when junior infielder Kassidy Kruipt hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fourth.
Krupit said she, “initially felt it. I knew it was gone, but it felt really good.”
In addition to the relentless offense, freshman pitcher Leah Powell had a career-best of 6 strikeouts against the Bulldogs.
Krupit said that Powell brought the energy that "all your defense can ask for" and that she saw “a fiery mentality out there” from the young pitcher.
South Carolina proved itself in this doubleheader in response to its losses in the series against Arkansas over this past weekend.
Powell said that coach Smith likes to put things in the past in order to move on. Today's games were a chance to focus on "hitting the ball and just doing our thing," said Powell.
Overall, Smith said she was proud of the team's performance and mentality as it continue to move forward with its season.
“I know the team was tired. I’m tired,” said Smith. “We had to fight through those things today to come back and respond. That was really my message: we need a response here today.”
The Gamecocks will return to Beckham Field on Saturday for a weekend series starting with a double-header against No. 24 University of Central Florida. Saturday's games are at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. followed by a Sunday game at 1 p.m. All games will be broadcasted on SEC Network+.
Editor’s note: The photo attached to this article was changed on March 18 at 10:01 p.m. from a stock graphic to a staff photographer photo to better match the focus of the piece.