Gamecocks clinch series win with Tennessee

COLUMBIA, S.C. — No. 15 South Carolina earned its second-straight SEC series win in a thrilling 5-4 walk-off victory over No. 2 Tennessee at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field on Saturday. With Carolina trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Kennedy Clark shot a ball to left to bring home two and give the Gamecocks their third walk-off victory of the season.

Facing a 4-2 deficit heading to the seventh inning, Carolina never lost faith as it improved to 27-4 (4-1 SEC) with the victory. Cayla Drotar started the seventh-inning scoring as she brought home Kenzi Maguire with a sacrifice fly before Clark’s heroic shot to left.

Drotar (13-1) earned the victory in the circle going all seven innings. She allowed just six hits on the night to lead the Gamecocks to victory.

“Today was huge,” head coach Beverly Smith said. “Tennessee is an excellent opponent and I think it shows the grit and the fight our team has. We just have this don’t quit mindset.”

South Carolina came out of the gate swinging, posting a two-run first inning to put the Lady Volunteers behind early. Drotar brought home Maguire with a ground out to first before Mackenzie Boesel scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0 Carolina after one.

No. 2 Tennessee took the lead in the top of the third with four runs, including a three-run home run as the Lady Volunteers looked poised to even the series.

The Gamecocks had other thoughts, though, as they battled through three scoreless innings before the walk-off seventh inning.

Clark led the way at the plate for Carolina, going 2-for-4 with two RBI. Maguire also shined, going 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Drotar finished 0-for-3 at the plate but brought home two runs.

Notes 

With the win tonight, Carolina improved to 27-4 (4-1 SEC) on the year and has still not lost consecutive games all season. This is the Gamecocks’ best start to conference play since 2005 and marks the first time all season Tennessee has lost two-straight games.

Kenzi Maguire couldn’t ask for a much better two games in the Tennessee series. She’s posted a team-best .714 batting average on five hits with four runs scored. Through five SEC games, she’s batting .444 with seven runs and six RBI.

Carolina earned the series win over Tennessee with the 5-4 victory on Saturday. This marked the first series win over the Lady Volunteers since 2015, and just the fifth since 2000. With a win tomorrow, the Gamecocks would earn the first sweep over Tennessee since 2002. This would be just the third sweep over the Volunteers since the two teams started playing in 1997.

Head coach Beverly Smith moved to 254-182 after the Tennessee win. She is the second-winningest coach in school history.

Up next — Carolina continues its big three-game series against No. 2 Tennessee tomorrow at 1:00 PM ET on SEC Network Plus. Live stats will be on gamecocksonline.com.

Gamecocks Athletics contributed to this article.

Categories: Local Sports, Sports, USC Gamecocks