COLUMBIA, S.C. -- No. 11 South Carolina softball produced its first shutout of the season at the right time as the Gamecocks defeated Winthrop 3-0 on Wednesday at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field. Karly Heath was undoubtedly the game's standout performer as she went five innings in the circle with five strikeouts and also produced at the plate with the game's first run thanks to a solo home run in the fifth.
With the win, the Gamecocks earned their first shutout since May 2, 2018, and improved their season-high winning streak to 15 games for the second-consecutive season.
Carolina enters league play this weekend at home against No. 22 Kentucky with an 18-2 record and has outscored opponents 139-31 (+108) during the winning streak while batting .390 as a team during that stretch.
South Carolina (18-2) found itself in a hard-fought pitching battle the first four innings as Karly Heath and Winthrop's Kiley Majete traded scoreless frames.
Heath was dominate early, striking out four-straight batters to finish the first and start the second inning. Her dominance further continued with three-up, three-down innings in the second, third and fourth innings as the Eagles did not record a hit until the fifth inning.
While Winthrop recorded its first hit in the fifth, Heath decided it was time for Carolina to record its first run of the game in the bottom frame as she blasted a solo home run over the wall in right to give the Gamecocks a 1-0 lead through five.
The scoring continued in the sixth as Lauren Stewart's sacrifice fly out scored a run before Madison Owens singled home a run a few plays later to extend the South Carolina lead to 3-0 through six.
Dixie Raley, who came on in relief for Heath in the sixth, closed out the seventh in just five batters as the Gamecocks earned their second victory of the season against Winthrop. Raley went two innings with one hit and two strikeouts to earn her second save of the year.
Heath (5-0) earned the victory in the circle going five innings with just one hit and five strikeouts. She also led the way at the plate for the Gamecocks going 1-for-2 with a solo homer.
Kenzi Maguire, Mackenzie Boesel, Cayla Drotar, Kennedy Clark and Owens also finished with hits on the night.
- South Carolina couldn't ask for much more out of Mackenzie Boesel during the 15-game winning streak. She has led the way at the plate hitting .524 with 22 runs, 22 hits, two home runs and 15 RBI with a .636 on-base percentage.
- During the winning streak, Carolina's pitching staff has been doing some heavy lifting of its own as four different pitchers (Dixie Raley, Cayla Drotar, Karly Heath and Rachel Vaughan) have combined for 78 strikeouts while Raley and Heath have held opposing batters under .200 hitting. Both Heath and Drotar are 5-0 during the stretch while Raley has shown poise in the big moments with two saves.
- Carolina earned its first shutout of the season on Wednesday night as the Gamecocks last shutout an opponent on May 2, 2018, in a victory over Charleston Southern.
- The Gamecocks improved to 296-198 under head coach Beverly Smith with the win on Wednesday.