The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina softball sweeps final 3 games of Carolina Classic

The Gamecock softball team winded up the weekend winning the last three games of the Carolina Classic, beating George Washington, Western Kentucky and Campbell. The Gamecocks had the largest lead against Western Kentucky, with sophomore outfielder Marissa Gonzalez hitting a grand slam and fifth-year outfielder Haley Simpson hitting an additional home run in the second inning. South Carolina found itself struggling to make much headway against Campbell, only beating it 2-1.

The South Carolina softball team finished its sweep of the Carolina Classic by winning the remaining three games in two days.

Game One

South Carolina defeated George Washington University 7-1 for its first victory of the weekend. 

Five players tallied RBI's during the game, with one run scoring on a wild pitch. Sophomore infielder Brooke Blankenship led the team with two RBI's. 

Fifth-year pitcher Rachel Vaughn started against George Washington, tossing three perfect innings with two strikeouts before head coach Beverly Smith opted to go to the bullpen.

“(I was) just kind of attacking the zone,” Vaughn said. "(I was) trusting my stuff (and) not letting the innings get too big."

Junior outfielder Carlie Henderson also turned in a good day at the plate, tallying two hits and two runs for the Gamecocks. 

George Washington managed to score one run in the final inning after freshman outfielder Ashley Corpuz hit a single to score graduate student infielder Arizona Ritchie. George Washington’s lone run was given up by freshman pitcher Jori Heard.

Game two

South Carolina continued its winning ways against Western Kentucky University on Sunday, defeating it 11-2 in five innings due to the mercy rule.

Vaughn started again for the Gamecocks. However, she did not fare as well against the Western Kentucky lineup, giving up two runs in 1.1 innings pitched. 

"I knew Karsen (Ochs) had my back, and I know the rest of the pitchers have my back anytime that we all get in trouble," Vaughn said.

South Carolina's offense once again proved to be potent, scoring all 11 runs in the first two innings. Junior infielder Riley Blampied got the momentum started with a single to score junior catcher and utility player Jen Cummings. Sophomore infielder Emma Sellers followed with a single of her own to score both Blampied and fifth-year infielder Jordan Fabian. 

"It just sort of killed their rally," assistant coach John Bloomer said, "They're coming in, they feel like they're right back in it, and then we came right back and had some really good at-bats." 

The second inning proved to be lucrative for the Gamecocks, scoring seven total runs on four hits. 

Blampied delivered again for the Gamecocks in the inning, with a single that scored junior outfielder Aaliyah White and Blankenship. Sophomore outfielder Marissa Gonzalez followed with a grand slam, bringing the score to 10-2 South Carolina. 

Fifth-year outfielder Haley Simpson then hit a pinch hit home run to bring the score to 11-2, where it would stay for the remainder of the game.

"I had just been seeing all my girls drive the ball," Simpson said. "(I) had been talking to all the other lefties and seeing what they had seen, what kind of pitches she had been throwing. So, I got in there — just wanted to take advantage of my opportunity."

Game Three

South Carolina completed its sweep of the Carolina Classic by defeating Campbell University 2-1. 

The offense struggled, and South Carolina found itself either losing or tied for most of the game, only pulling ahead when Fabian singled, scoring the go-ahead run.

"You never really want to start the year off (in a slump), but she swung it well all January," Bloomer said. "We came back. I think a lot of us just seeing reps, she's kept a great attitude today."

South Carolina's bullpen was effective, giving up zero runs after senior pitcher Karsen Ochs was pulled from the game to start the third, which proved to be the difference maker. 

"It's great to have a pitching staff that everyone is so supportive," Vaughn said.

Campbell threatened to make a come back until the very end, having a runner on third when the final out was recorded. However, senior pitcher Donnie Gobourne was able to hold the runner by striking out the final batter, securing the win for the Gamecocks.

What next?

South Carolina is set to take on Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia, at 6 p.m. on Feb. 22. The game will be available on ESPN+.