The South Carolina softball team's five-game winning streak came to an end in a 3-1 loss to No. 15 Clemson on Tuesday night at Beckham Field.
Prior to the game, a sellout crowd greeted head football coach Shane Beamer with cheers, as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
"What a great environment, and I think that's the exciting thing about the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry is we're going to see a packed house," head coach Beverly Smith said. "It was a great atmosphere, Coach Beamer coming to throw tonight. He was fantastic talking to our team."
Offensively, the Gamecocks could not solve sophomore left-handed pitcher Millie Thompson. She finished with seven strikeouts and gave up one run on three hits in six innings of work.
South Carolina went 4-for-25 at the plate and left five runners stranded on-base. Sophomore third baseman Riley Blampied picked up the team's only extra-base hit of the night when she doubled in the seventh inning.
Smith said the offense helped the Tigers record outs by swinging on difficult pitches.
"We definitely wanted to make (Thompson) bring the ball up, and I think we got ourselves out expanding the zone and certainly her changeup kept us off balance," Smith said.
In the seventh, the Gamecocks found some production from its offense, stringing together three hits and even brought the go-ahead run to the plate. However, the rally would come to an end as the Tigers got out of a bases-loaded jam.
After the game, graduate student outfielder Katie Prebble said the late-inning hits will carry into the next series.
"I think we proved it to ourselves that we are a pretty powerful offense. We're aggressive and we attack early," Prebble said. "And so I think that's a good mindset to carry into LSU, where they do throw a lot of change-ups as well and they have similar styles of pitching."
Sophomore right-hander Leah Powell pitched arguably her best game of the season, as she silenced Clemson's offense for a majority of the night. Powell finished with one strikeout and no walks in 4.2 innings of work.
With the game still scoreless going into the fifth, senior first baseman Kassidy Krupit committed a costly error, allowing the Tigers to take advantage and score three unearned runs off Powell.
"If you take those errors away, we definitely would have a much better shot at the win, I think," Prebble said.
Needing to keep the game close, junior right-handed pitcher Bailey Betenbaugh shut down the opposition. She did not allow a hit and struck out four batters through 2.1 innings.
"I felt really good. I just threw my best stuff and it was working," Betenbaugh said post-game.
With a quick turnaround, the Gamecocks will travel to Baton Rouge to play the LSU Tigers starting on Thursday night at Tiger Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.
After an up-and-down first half of the season, Smith said she expects to see a change in the second half.
"We keep talking about what we want the second half of our season to look like," Smith said. "So, we get to start that with LSU, so I think if we stay and attacking our week — we had a good week with five wins over Winthrop, NC State and East Tennessee. So, we're going to just keep that momentum going into LSU."