The Daily Gamecock

Freshman 2-way player Reganne Bennett impacts Gamecock softball team through solid pitching, hitting

<p>FILE - Freshman two-way player Reganne Bennett stands for the national anthem before the game against the College of Charleston on Feb. 28, 2024. During this game, Bennett pitched three innings and allowed no runners to score.</p>
FILE - Freshman two-way player Reganne Bennett stands for the national anthem before the game against the College of Charleston on Feb. 28, 2024. During this game, Bennett pitched three innings and allowed no runners to score.

The No. 22 South Carolina softball team has gone 28-12 (4-8 SEC) across 40 games this season and is on track to improve upon its 40-22 finish from last season. 

The Gamecocks entered the 2024 season expecting strong contributions from the pitching staff, with the return of sophomore pitcher Jori Heard and the arrival of fifth-year pitcher Alana Vawter, a transfer from Stanford. 

Many other key players have also returned to the starting lineup. Headlining the top of the order are senior infielder Riley Blampied, senior catcher Jen Cummings and senior utility player Aniyah Black. The three seniors have combined for 88 hits this season, while Blampied leads the team in extra-base hits (14) and runs batted in (26). 

But it's not just returners that are influencing the Gamecocks' success this season. Several transfers have also made their impact on the lineup, including redshirt senior utility player Kianna Jones from North Carolina and senior infielder Denver Bryant from Auburn. Jones leads the team with five home runs so far, while Bryant has provided consistent defense at third base. 

The player who brings one of the most unique skill sets to the team, however, is freshman two-way player Reganne Bennett. The pitcher and infielder has a team-leading 0.62 ERA in 22.2 innings pitched and has hit four home runs in 40 at-bats over 22 games played. 

You don’t see many players that do it on both sides of the ball like that,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “The fact that she can hit a home run in her game to help the win is big time.” 


Bennett hails from Novi, Michigan, where she was named the Michigan Softball Gatorade Player of the Year during her senior year at Novi High School. In that same season, Bennett hit for a .598 average with 18 home runs. As a pitcher, she struck out 239 batters in 131.6 innings pitched on her way to a 1.12 ERA with an 11-5 record. 

“I’ve always been a two-way player,” Bennett said. “Growing up, I had two younger brothers who also played baseball, so we would always be competing in the cages, or we would set goals to be like, ‘Who’s going to hit their next milestone?’” 

Despite being absent in 18 games this season, Bennett has made her impact felt at the collegiate level. On Feb. 17 against UC San Diego, Bennett hit two home runs for the Gamecocks and threw five innings without allowing a single earned run. And on March 15, Bennett made a pinch-hit RBI double to help the Gamecocks cruise to an 8-0 victory over Michigan State. 

With only 40 at-bats on the season, her ability to make the most of her opportunities is part of what makes Bennett's performance so impressive. While she has yet to earn a consistent position on the starting lineup, Bennett is proving she has the tools to be a stickler in the lineup. 

Bennett, like many of her teammates, has benefited from the instruction of hitting coach Jake Epstein. Epstein is in his first season with the program, having previously worked as a hitting consultant for the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball.

"Being ourselves up to plate with coach Ep is great. He also turns us into machines up there at the plate," Blampied said. "It's great having him as a coach this year." 

For Bennett, she has turned into a power bat under Epstein's guidance, leading the team with a .650 slugging percentage and seven extra-base hits this season. 

Bennett said the affirmations she receives from her teammates contribute to her confidence and help her be able to play stress-free.

(My teammates)told me at the beginning of the season that, 'You’re ready.' And then to 'Go out and do your thing,'” Bennett said. “Having their confidence in me has made me feel prepared for the season.” 

Much of Bennett's early success can be credited to Vawter, as well, she said. With over 700 innings compiled between Stanford and South Carolina, Vawter also has some experience in the batter's box, especially this season after hitting a walk-off home run against Boston University in mid-March.

Bennett said she looks up to Vawter for her veteran experience and the similarities they hold, being able to both pitch and hit. 

Alana has been great. She’s definitely someone I look up to a lot. As I go through my career I want to be like her,” Bennett said. “Sometimes we’ll have shared bullpens or we’ll be hitting together, and just learning her mindset going into the box or how she’s throwing a pitch — just learning the little things.” 

While she is still just a freshman, Bennett is looking to accomplish significant goals while she is at South Carolina, both for herself and for her team.

I want to be an All-American. That’s one of my goals. I want to do it from both sides of the plate,” Bennett said. “As a team, I want to go as far as we can, win a World Series, and I think this year we definitely have the potential to go do that, so I’m really excited for this postseason.” 


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