PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO ---- A walk and single in the top of the seventh proved to be the difference as No. 9 South Carolina softball produced a thrilling 7-4 comeback victory over Notre Dame on Saturday at Nancy Almarez Stadium. The Gamecocks entered the seventh trailing 4-3 but a Madison Owens walk and Kenzi Maguire single helped Carolina produce the needed runs to complete the win.
South Carolina (3-1) showed poise from start to finish in a hard-fought game that saw Notre Dame take a 3-0 lead through one and a 4-3 advantage through six.
The Irish grabbed all the early momentum in the first, scoring three runs on a ball sent over the heads in the outfield and a two-run home run the next at bat to take a 3-0 lead through one.
Notre Dame held the lead at 3-0 until the top of the third when Maguire sent a ball over the wall in left to cut the deficit to 3-1.
Mackenzie Boesel picked an opportune time to hit her first home run of the season, blasting a two-out, two-run home run to tie the game at 3-3.
The Irish took the lead for the final time in the bottom of the sixth with a solo home run to make it 4-3.
In the top of the seventh, Jana Johns started the frame with a single to get some momentum rolling and the Gamecocks never looked back from there. Cayla Drotar's single, a Kennedy Clark sacrifice bunt and Haley Simpson single to score a run and tie the game set up the eventual Maguire and Owens heroics.
Drotar (1-0) earned the victory in the circle, going three innings in relief with just two hits allowed.
At the plate, Simpson shined going 3-for-3 with a run and RBI. Maguire also improved upon her hot start to the season, going 2-for-4 with two runs and three RBI.
- Carolina earned win No. 3 on the season and the victory was No. 281 for head coach Beverly Smith.
- Freshman Haley Simpson has adjusted well at the plate, thus far. She leads the Gamecocks with an .800 batting average on six hits. Kenzi Maguire has also shined, hitting .429 on six hits with five RBI and a home run.
- South Carolina has had five different players (Kenzi Maguire, Jana Johns, Alexis Lindsey, Kennedy Clark and Haley Simpson) produce multi-hit games thus far. Maguire leads the way through four games with two. Simpson is the first Gamecock to have a three-hit game.
- The Gamecocks moved to 29-10 in opening weekend games under Beverly Smith following Saturday's game.
- The Gamecocks halted the first losing streak of the season at just one game last night. Carolina lost consecutive games just four times in 2018. Carolina started last season going 4-1 in the FIU Tournament.