The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: South Carolina softball sweeps No. 23 Texas A&M for second SEC series win of season

<p>Sophomore catcher Giulia Desiderio holds her mitt up in the air, preparing the catch the ball. The Gamecocks played the Aggies at Beckham Field on April 16, 2023, winning the game 8-0 to sweep the series.&nbsp;</p>
Sophomore catcher Giulia Desiderio holds her mitt up in the air, preparing the catch the ball. The Gamecocks played the Aggies at Beckham Field on April 16, 2023, winning the game 8-0 to sweep the series. 

The South Carolina softball team earned its second SEC series win of the season by sweeping No. 23 Texas A&M over a three-game series that ended Sunday afternoon.

The sweep marked the first time the Gamecocks have taken all three games of an SEC series since it swept Mississippi State in April of 2018.

Game one

South Carolina's situational hitting and quality pitching led the team to a 6-2 victory over the Aggies in the series opener. 

The Gamecocks hit .280 (7-25) during the game. Junior outfielder and utility player Aniyah Black led South Carolina's offense, going 1-3 with 3 RBIs, all of which came from a bases-clearing double in the Gamecocks' four-run first inning.

"We were just in attack mode from pitch one. We talked about it all week, going and taking the win," Black said. "We had the opportunity to take advantage of them, and that's what we did."

South Carolina hit .333 (3-9) with two outs and .500 (3-6) with runners in scoring position. Sophomore infielder Brooke Blankenship collected an RBI single in the third inning with two outs to score fifth-year outfielder Haley Simpson. 

The Gamecocks' final run came off the bat of sophomore infielder Emma Sellers, who hit a home run over the left field fence in the fourth inning.

"I thought Emma Sellers' home run was big for us," head coach Beverly Smith said. "You know when your nine hole was able to produce big for you, that was important for us in the game today."

Freshman pitcher Jori Heard started the game in the circle for South Carolina but only pitched one inning, giving up two runs on two hits to Texas A&M. 

From that point onward, the Gamecocks' pitching staff would not give up another run. Senior pitcher Karsen Ochs pitched two shutout innings and did not allow an Aggie baserunner in her six outs of work. Senior pitcher Donnie Gobourne, who came in to relieve Ochs, pitched four innings, giving up zero runs on two hits and striking out four batters.

"I feel great, and I can truly say, having the coaching staff and the support from my teammates, it feels nice to have somebody to lean back on," Gobourne said.

South Carolina pitchers kept Texas A&M batters to a .167 average, with two of the Aggies' hits coming in the first inning.

"I think our pitchers combined for a really nice win today," Smith said. "Texas A&M has an excellent offense, and I think they did a good job managing the hitter."

Game two

The Gamecocks were able to secure the series with a walk-off 1-0 win over the Aggies in a game dominated by pitching.

Senior pitcher Bailey Betenbaugh got the start for South Carolina, giving up no runs on two hits and one walk over four innings.

Ochs came on in relief of Betenbaugh to start the fifth inning and continued the team's positive momentum in the circle. She pitched three shutout innings, allowing two hits and no walks, to close the game for the Gamecocks. 

South Carolina's pitching staff shut out the Aggies for the first time since 1996, though it was the fifth shutout of the season by the Gamecocks.

Junior infielder Zoe Laneaux led the team on the offensive side of the ball, collecting four of South Carolina's five hits in a 4-4 performance. She hit two doubles and two singles, including the walk-off single in the seventh inning that scored the game only run, and became the first player to record a four-hit game since junior outfielder Carlie Henderson in 2022.

Game three

The Gamecocks completed its sweep of the Aggies on Sunday with an 8-0 shutout win.

South Carolina started things strong early on, scoring five of the team's eight runs in the first three innings. An RBI double from Black brought home Laneaux after she reached base on a single earlier in the inning. 

In the third, Black and fifth-year catcher and infielder Jordan Fabian each hit a solo home run, and sophomore catcher and infielder Giulia Desiderio took advantage of back-to-back walks to drive in two runs with an RBI single. Heading into the fourth inning, the Gamecocks held a 5-0 lead. 

Gobourne kept the Aggies' offense quiet the entire game, recording seven strikeouts and giving up only two hits in six innings of work. She improved her record to 8-2 on the season after picking up the win with another impressive performance in the circle. 

The Gamecocks continued its offensive display in the sixth inning when Black came to the plate with two runners on base. Black, who already had two hits, launched her second home run of the game into deep center field for a three-run blast, triggering a run-rule ending with South Carolina's lead at eight runs. 

What's next 

The Gamecocks (30-12 overall, 7-8 SEC) will face Charleston Southern in a doubleheader at home on Wednesday, with game one scheduled to start at 3 p.m. and game two at 5:30 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on SEC Network +.