After dropping its opening SEC series against No. 15 Georgia, the South Carolina softball team responded with a 10-3 win over the Charleston Cougars on Thursday night at Beckham Field.
“I was proud of our offense tonight for coming out,” head coach Beverly Smith said postgame. “We were scoring early and often there to start, and I think that’s just, when we have an opportunity to keep moving the line — that’s important to us offensively.”
The Gamecocks forced Charleston to use its bullpen right away, as it scored six runs in a little over an inning against sophomore pitcher McKenna Kelly.
Sophomore third baseman Riley Blampied opened the scoring with a two-run home run over the left center field wall. She finished going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a double.
After struggling at the plate in 2021, Blampied said the biggest change to her approach has been her hard work after hours.
“(Blampied) has really seen the ball well,” Smith said. “She’s come in clutch, I think she’s doing a really nice job hitting behind Katie Prebble, but she’s come up with some clutch RBIs and is making really solid contact with the ball.”
South Carolina added four additional runs in the second inning, capped off by a two-run shot from senior catcher Jordan Fabian.
On the base paths, the Gamecocks took advantage of senior catcher Jenna Helberg’s high pop time and swiped six bases, which led to more scoring opportunities.
“That’s a big thing for us, we try to get as many extra bases. Usually the goal is five, so when we surpass that it’s a good night for the Gamecocks,” sophomore second baseman Maddie Gallagher said postgame.
In addition to stealing a base, Gallagher finished with a season-high three hits in four at-bats.
The Gamecocks finished with double-digit hits for the second consecutive game and went 6-for-17 with runners in scoring position.
In the circle, sophomore right-hander Leah Powell pitched 3.2 innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out five batters.
Junior left-handed pitcher Rachel Vaughan entered the game in relief and continued to pitch great. In 2.1 innings, she shut down the Cougars’ offense, as she allowed three hits and struck out two.
“I thought Rachel Vaughan came in and did a really nice job behind Leah Powell,” Smith said. “She kept the ball down and our defense played really well behind Rachel.”
Fifth-year right-handed pitcher Kelsey Oh came in to close the game out in the seventh and did so without allowing a hit.
South Carolina will continue conference play on Saturday afternoon against an Auburn team that has won its last 16 games. While the Tigers are playing at a high level, Smith said she likes her team’s chances this weekend.
“I think Auburn has a staff of some really nice arms, so we’ll certainly be challenged at the plate,” Smith said. “They’ve got a really nice pitching staff, but for us it’s about timely hitting and playing some good defense. So, I think if we can do that, we’re certainly playing good ball right now.”
First pitch from Jane B. Moore Field is slated for 2 p.m. on SEC Network+.