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South Carolina wins its first game of 2024 SEC Tournament

Lengthy delays are not uncommon in a sport like softball. Unsavory weather conditions can lead to games being delayed for hours, or even postponed. In-game umpire reviews can also stop play for multiple minutes.

The South Carolina softball team experienced a different kind of delay before the first pitch was thrown Wednesday night. The Gamecocks were forced to wait more than three hours because of another game being played on Jane B. Moore Field.

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Mississippi State pitcher Aspen Wesley would eventually throw the first pitch shortly after 11 pm And South Carolina was ready for it, despite the long wait.

The Gamecocks would score two runs in both the first and second innings to build an early lead.

South Carolina would not relinquish it the rest of the night, emerging victorious by an 8-4 score.

How it happened

South Carolina (34-21, 9-16 SEC) couldn’t have asked for a better start to the game. The Gamecocks erupted four runs and six hits during the first two innings.

Denver Bryant led off the game a bunt single down the right-field line. Bryant would eventually make her way around the base paths after a sacrificial bunt by Riley Blampied and a double from Zoe Laneaux.

It wasn’t much longer before Lanueax touched home plate, as Aliyah Black launched a single to double South Carolina’s lead.

The Gamecocks would be even more dangerous in the second inning, bringing eight batters to the plate and seeing five reach base.

South Carolina loaded the bases with just one out after Giulia Desiderio and Bryant hit singles and Blampied drew a walk. Two batters later, the Gamecocks would double their lead once more. Laneaux earned her second RBI hit of the night by beating out an infield single, and Jen Cummings was hit by a pitch to bring home another run.

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Despite the slow start, Mississippi State (33-18, 12-13 SEC) answered quickly to claw back into the game. Second-inning doubles from Matalasi Faapito and Ella Wesolowski quickly made it a 4-1 ball game. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Madisyn Kennedy launched a deep three-run shot to chip at the Gamecocks’ lead even further.

But South Carolina’s four-run outburst in the top of that inning gave the team all the offense it needed to capture the win.

Two observations

Bryant shows intensity on both sides of ball — Bryant had her best individual performance as a Gamecock in this contest, going 4-4 ​​and driving in two runs.

But her impact on the game went beyond the box score. Her aggressive baserunning put her in better positions to score, and she made many impressive plays in the field. Bryant is an experienced leader for South Carolina, and her all-out intensity gives younger players on the squad something to look up to as the tournament goes along.

Timely hitting leads Gamecocks to victory — South Carolina’s offense was impressive overall, amassing 11 hits and scoring eight runs in the contest. That offensive success carried over into a specific situations that optimized the Gamecocks’ ability to score runs.

South Carolina batters were 6-11 (.545) with runners in scoring position and 7-15 (.467) in all situations with runners on base. The team also went 4-9 (.444) with two outs and made it difficult for the Bulldogs to finish the innings.

That’s exactly what you want to see in a high-stakes postseason tournament like this.

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Key stat

8 runs — South Carolina’s offensive output wasn’t just impressive. It made history. By the fifth inning, the Gamecocks broke an SEC Tournament record for most runs scored in a single game by a double-digit seed. It was also the most offensive South Carolina generated in a single game since March 30, when it beat Ole Miss 8-3.

Turning point

The Gamecocks took the lead in the first inning and never let it go. But the fifth inning was very important for South Carolina, as it gave the team the offense it needed to win the game.

The Gamecocks brought another eight batters to the plate, four of whom recorded hits and five. Bryant capped off the frame with her career-high fourth hit of the ballgame — a two-run double that brought Blankenship and Kianna Jones home to score.

Up next

With the victory, South Carolina advances to the quarterfinals, where they will face No. 3 seed Texas A&M. First pitch is scheduled for 8 pm on Thursday, and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.