South Carolina snapped a nine-game losing streak on Thursday with a 7-1 win over the Winthrop Eagles.
“When we talk about our goals and wanting to be in postseason, every win counts,” Gamecocks head softball coach Beverly Smith said. “I talk about all games, count one, so this was important for us to win tonight.”
Winthrop got on the board first and the Gamecocks responded with five runs in the bottom of the first inning to take the lead for good.
“To hop on a team early, really put it on them, that gives us momentum to carry throughout the game,” sophomore outfielder Carlie Henderson said.
The scoring in the first started with a RBI single from junior designated player Hannah Kumiyama. Two batters later, sophomore infielder Maddie Gallagher knocked a double down the left field line to drive in two more runs.
Henderson recorded the last runs of the inning with a two RBI single into left-center field.
“I went up with a plan, and that was to wait on the ball and take something hard to the opposite field,” Henderson said. “I was just trying to barrel up a ball and it found a spot and I got the runners in.”
With the game out of hand, sophomore pitcher Leah Powell came in to pinch hit and recorded her first collegiate hit with an RBI single.
After the game Smith said that Powell “absolutely" has the potential to be seen in the lineup more often.
“KK (Cayla) Drotar did it for us for four years, and I think Leah Powell has that same capability to be able to hit for power, hit for herself,” Smith said. “And from a coaching standpoint, it really opens up a lot of different things you can do with the DP flex.”
Another piece of the Gamecocks early scoring success was its ability to steal bases. On the night, the squad stole seven bases to get runners in scoring position. The Gamecocks went 5-for-15 at the plate with runners in scoring position.
Smith said that the stolen bases were used to South Carolina's advantage, helping them out in different situations throughout the game.
“I think when we talk about free bases and 60 extra feet, and whenever we can do that, it’s going to make us better,” Smith said. “I think Carlie Henderson did a good job advancing on a ball and we were able to prevent a double play on the next.”
Junior pitcher Karsen Ochs took the circle to begin the night and pitched 3.2 innings of one-run ball. She finished with one strikeout and three walks.
In relief, sophomore pitcher Skylar Trahan came into the game in the fourth to record the final out and pitched the rest of the way, collecting her first career win. She held Winthrop's offense scoreless in 3.1 innings, recording seven strikeouts and no walks.
In the sixth the Winthrop offense began to rally, loading the bases with no outs. After a brief mound visit, Trahan retired three batters in order to keep Winthrop scoreless in the inning.
Despite getting in a jam, Trahan said her mentality never changed in the inning.
“I was not stressed. I trusted my defense the whole time and just went out there and competed,” Trahan said.
The Gamecocks improve to 19-17 on the season with the win. They’ll be back in action with a Friday double header in the Garnet and Black Round Robin, playing NC State at 2 p.m. and East Tennessee at 5 p.m.