After having almost a full week off, the South Carolina softball team fell in the first game of the Palmetto Series, losing to No. 5 Clemson 10-0 Tuesday evening.
The Gamecocks were unable to generate much on offense, as the team had only two runners reach base on its way to being run-ruled after five innings.
South Carolina struggled in the circle with each Gamecock pitcher allowing at least three runs. Senior pitcher Donnie Gobourne, who started the game, allowed 3 runs on 4 hits over three full innings.
Though Gobourne demonstrated control in her brief outing — 32 of her 54 pitches were thrown for strikes, and she did not allow a walk — she threw multiple illegal pitches called by the umpires in the first inning, which pulled South Carolina head coach Beverly Smith out to the circle twice in the inning. With her third mound visit and a conversation with one of the umpires, Smith was later ejected.
“I just went out and gave (Donnie) a cue for an adjustment,” Smith said. “She's such a power pitcher.”
Junior pitcher Leah Powell took over for Gobourne in the fourth inning, but she exited the game after recording only one out. Powell faced 4 batters, retiring one of them via strikeout, but allowed 3 runs on 2 hits before being relieved by senior pitcher Bailey Betenbaugh. Betenbaugh finished the fourth inning, facing 9 batters and surrendering 4 runs on 3 hits.
Despite the performance, Smith expressed optimism that improvements in the circle will be made moving forward.
“Donnie, certainly, has come in as a fifth-year senior and given us a lot of power on the mound. And so, I think just really being able to maximize each pitcher’s strength is going to be the key moving forward,” Smith said.
The sparse offense the Gamecocks generated came from junior catcher Jen Cummings, who managed to record the team's only hit against Clemson redshirt junior pitcher Valerie Cagle. Cagle pitched the entirety of the five-inning one-hitter for the Tigers and recorded 5 strikeouts while Cummings went 1-for-1 and walked in her other at-bat to finish the night with a .357 batting average on the season.
“I like the way we came out in the first inning. I thought we had hard hit balls,” Smith said. “We’re facing probably one of the top pitchers in country against Valerie Cagle ... I thought we came out with a good plan and hit the balls hard.”
South Carolina (24-8, 1-5 SEC) will be back at home for a three-game SEC series against Florida this weekend. First pitch for game one, which will be broadcast on SEC Network+, is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.