USC Softball Takes 7-5 Win in Series Finale vs. Rebels
By: USC SID
COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — A resilient South Carolina (32-12, 5-10 SEC) claimed a 7-5 win on Sunday afternoon over Ole Miss (30-15, 6-9 SEC) in the series finale at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
The Gamecocks came out of the gates firing, as the first five batters all reached base. Senior left fielder Alaynie Page started things with a home run to center, while junior first baseman Kaylea Snaer followed senior Ansley Ard’s single with a blast of her own over the left field wall, making it 3-0. The next two Gamecocks drew walks off Rebel reliever Madi Osias, and senior second baseman Lauren Masters, playing on her senior day, drove in sophomore shortstop Krystan White with a sacrifice fly.
The Rebels bounced back with five runs in the third, all unearned after a Gamecock throwing error on Hailey Lunderman’s sacrifice bunt allowed her to reach. Ashton Lampton and Dakota Matiko both had two-out, two-RBI doubles sandwiched around Alex Schneider’s run-scoring single.
South Carolina went back on the offense in the bottom half of the third, tying the game on freshman catcher Lex Hull’s sacrifice fly. Junior designated player Victoria Williams gave the Gamecocks the lead in the fourth with her sac fly, scoring freshman shortstop Kenzi Maguire after she led off the inning with a double. The Gamecocks’ insurance run came in the fifth when Page scored from second on a throwing error after Ard put down a bunt.
South Carolina reliever Nickie Blue (15-9) picked up the win with 4.1 innings of shutout relief, scattering three hits and two walks while striking out three. Osias (15-6) took the loss, giving up three earned runs on five hits and four walks in four innings.
Sophomore third baseman Kamryn Watts made a pair of outstanding defensive plays in the contest. In that Rebel third, she recorded the first out when she picked up a sharp grounder to her and immediately turned and tagged the runner that had ventured too far off the bag. In the seventh, Watts started the game-ending double play, whipping the throw to Masters, who relayed it to Snaer in time to close the game.
The Gamecocks didn’t buckle after the five-run third, coming back to tie the game three batters into their half of the frame.
Hull, drawing her 10th start of the season, threw out two Rebels trying to steal. Ole Miss entered the game with 111 stolen bases in 131 tries, second in the SEC.
• Snaer led the Gamecocks with a 3-for-4 game, hitting her fifth homer of the year.
• Page launched her eighth homer of the season, putting her one shy of tying the South Carolina career record of 33. She went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and a double to go with her round-tripper.
• Williams went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI on the sacrifice fly. Masters and Hull both added sacrifice flies.
• Ard, Clark, Maguire, Masters and Watts all had hits, Maguire the double.
• White and Bizzell both walked twice, with White scoring a run.
• South Carolina is now 21-0 when scoring more than five runs in a game.
• Matiko went 3-for-3 with a double for the Rebels. Lampton and Schneider also had doubles, while Elantra Cox and Schneider both went 2-for-3.
Head coach Beverly Smith
It was important for us to respond and be resilient and come out like we know how to play, and we did that today. I was proud of that effort.
It was so nice to see our team come out ready swing the bat and make the other pitchers work. I was pleased to see the energy and the output in the first inning. When Alaynie Page starts the game with a home run, it’s always nice and can put the other pitcher back on her heels.
On her pitchers’ day today
Ole Miss was able to see (Jessica) and Nickie in all three games. Sunday is tough. Nickie came in and did a great job closing the door, giving our defense good balls in play, and our defense did a good job behind her. She’s a seasoned SEC pitcher and can come in and get ground-ball outs for us and really trust the defense to get the outs. Kenzi Maguire made some nice plays (at shortstop), and to end the game with Lauren Masters able to turn the double play on senior day, I was so happy for her.
On Watts’ tag out at third in the third
You can’t teach that. It’s such a reaction. She fields it and is on the runner before she knows what happens. Those can be momentum-changers.
South Carolina hosts Georgia Southern on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.