Following its series loss to LSU this past weekend, the South Carolina softball team beat Presbyterian 9-1 in six innings Wednesday afternoon.
Junior left fielder Riley Blampied led the offensive effort for South Carolina, recording two hits and three RBIs on the day. Fifth-year infielder Jordan Fabian opened the game with a solo home run, the only home run for Gamecocks recorded in the game.
On the mound, junior Leah Powell began the game allowing one hit and recording two strikeouts in the first three innings. Freshman Jori Heard came on in relief, allowing no hits in the final three innings while recording four strikeouts.
Heard has proven to be a valuable asset to the South Carolina pitching staff so far this season, and one that continues to make an impact on the team, according to head coach Beverly Smith.
“She proved (last) weekend against LSU that she can come in and handle her business,” Smith said. “She’s throwing a good mix of pitches, and I wanted to give her some more innings tonight, so (she’s) been a real positive sign.”
The Gamecocks got most of its offense in the second inning, when it scored five of its nine runs. South Carolina found itself in multiple bases-loaded situations throughout the frame, which resulted in two run-scoring doubles, and Blampied advanced on a wild pitch from third base to score the final run of the inning.
After another run in the fourth for the Gamecocks, the game would come to a close in the sixth inning with two sacrifice flies that sent sophomore infielder Brooke Blankenship and fifth-year utility player Natalie Morgan home to secure the victory by virtue of a run rule.
Aggressiveness on the base paths has been key to the Gamecocks’ success this season, and that continued with South Carolina's four stolen bases, two doubles and a triple during the game.
“That’s the way that we’ve trained,” Smith said. “From the fall into the spring, we said that we wanted to run an aggressive offense. Coach (Josh) Bloomer has really come in with that mentality (of) not just for the hitters, but really, when (talking) about base running specifically, we want to be aggressive on the bases.”
The Gamecocks now shift back towards a deep SEC schedule in the weekends ahead, beginning with a series against Mississippi State this Friday through Sunday. Smith said the key for conference success is remaining tough.
“It’s a grind,” Smith said. “You’re going to face a lot of ranked opponents, and it’s just about playing good, clean softball. I always say, 'Pitchers handle their business on the mound, and then we’ve got to be able to score runs and put pressure on the opposition.'”