TALAHASSEE, Fla. - The South Carolina softball team (39-21) staved off elimination on Saturday night (May 20) with a pair of wins, as the Gamecocks advanced to the Tallahassee Regional final. Carolina defeated Marist (29-30) in the first game of the day 2-1, before taking down UCF (40-21) 10-1 in the nightcap. The Gamecocks advance to the regional final for the sixth time under head coach Beverly Smith, where they will face host Florida State at 11 a.m. tomorrow.
The Gamecocks and Red Foxes met in the first elimination game of the Tallahassee Regional. Carolina's bats took a couple innings to get going but broke through first in the fourth inning. Aniyah Black reached on an infield single. Pinch runner Aaliyah White went to second on a bunt single by Marissa Gonzalez. As she tried to take third, the throw by Marist sailed into left field, allowing White to score easily.
The Red Foxes tied it in the bottom of the sixth with two outs. The Gamecocks wasted no time, as Giulia Desiderio singled with one out in the seventh. Pinch runner Kyye Ricks promptly stole second, and then scored on Brooke Blankenship's two-out single to right.
Donnie Gobourne came on for the bottom of the seventh, striking out the final two batters to cement the win.
Bailey Betenbaugh (8-2) earned the win in relief, throwing 2-3 an inning. Gobourne picked up her sixth save of the year, third all-time in program history. Rachel Vaughan started for Carolina, throwing three innings, striking out one and allowing three hits. Jori Heard threw 2 1-3 in relief, allowing one run on one hit.
The Gamecocks came back looking for revenge against the Knights, and they did not disappoint. Carolina didn't wait around in the rematch, scoring a run in the top of the second. Jen Cummings led off with a walk. Gonzalez laid down a perfect bunt and ended up on third after a throwing error, as the Carolina runner being called out at the plate. Desiderio followed with a walk, and stole second, allowing Gonzalez to steal home.
South Carolina broke the game open in the fifth, scoring five runs. The first run came home on a sacrifice fly from Zoe Laneaux. White pinch hit with the bases loaded, delivering a single up the middle, scoring two runs. The throw by the UCF center fielder home was wild, allowing Riley Blampied to also score. White then scored on a wild pitch to cap off the inning.
Carolina wasn't done, as it pushed across four more runs in the top of the seventh. White would come through again with an RBI single, scoring Ricks from second, who was pinch running. White scored on another double steal, allowing pinch runner Olivia Cook to reach second. Three pitches later Gonzalez connected on her fifth home run of the season to left-center. UCF's lone run came in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly.
Betenbaugh (9-2) threw a complete game four-hitter, as she did not allow a walk. It was her first complete game of the season.