The #17 South Carolina Gamecocks came into the opening weekend of SEC play at 14-4, with a couple quality wins under their belt and the experience needed for their young core to believe they can handle the challenge that presented itself in Athens.
Meanwhile, #14 Georgia Bulldogs came into the game with a 20-4 record and one of the most dangerous offenses in the nation, but Coach Beverly Smith’s squad was ready to fight and give the Dogs everything they could handle and then some.
Game one would start Friday night with freshman Karsen Ochs getting the start in her first ever SEC game.
Ochs did not disappoint, as she pitched seven full innings, only giving up two runs on six hits and only issuing one walk.
She also struck out nine batters in the course of the game and nearly out-pitched UGA’s senior ace Mary Wilson Avant, who struck out thirteen and allowed five hits in seven innings for four runs.
Karsen Ochs continued to impress all of Gamecock Nation with her performance Friday and added her name as a candidate for SEC Freshman of the Year.
The Gamecocks offense played strong, backing Ochs with three RBI singles and a RBI sac bunt from sophomore Kassidy Krupit, junior Katie Prebble, and senior Kenzi Maguire in the first, third, and seventh innings.
The Gamecocks would take game one of the series with a score of 4-2, and set their eyes on game two on Saturday to win the series.
In game two, sophomore Karly Heath would get the go in the circle and look to win the series with her perfect 12-0 record as a Gamecock pitcher on the line.
Heath would go six full innings giving up five runs on five hits and issuing one walk.
She struck out three batters before she would be lifted in the seventh for Ochs down 5-2.
It looked as if Heath would collect her first loss of her Gamecock career, but a gritty rally from her teammates would tie the game at five in the top seventh.
Ochs would come in and pitch the next 2.1 innings before a throwing error in a run down situation would allow Georgia to score the winning walk-off run and even the series.
Ochs would collect the loss, moving her to 4-2 and Heath would stay 12-0 following the 6-5 loss Saturday.
The killer for the Gamecocks in the middle game was the home runs, as four of UGA’s runs came from three home runs, two from Ciara Bryan.
The last two UGA runs came from a RBI double and the throwing error.
SC would get two extra base hits themselves, when sophomore Jana Johns would hit a two run home run in the third to give the Gamecocks a 2-1 lead.
E7: Ya feeling extra today? We are. It's winning time in Athens.— Gamecock Softball (@GamecockSoftbll) March 7, 2020
No. 15 SC: 5
No. 13 UGA: 5 pic.twitter.com/idSyvOmbaZ
Then, in the top of the seventh, freshman Hannah Kumiyama would hit a clutch three RBI double to tie the game at 5-5 and force extra innings.
Even though the result did not favor SC, there was a lot to take away from this game and be proud of.
The ladies fought hard and had several chances to win the game, it just got away from them in a bad break.
Game three just wasn’t South Carolina’s day, as the squad would be run ruled in the bottom of the fifth inning 11-3.
Karsen Ochs would get her third loss of the season and the second of the weekend as she would only pitch one inning after being pulled in the second for sophomore Rachel Vaughn.
Vaughn would make her season debut down 4-0 after Ochs would give up four hits for four runs.
Rachel would go two full innings, giving up two hits for three runs and walking three in her debut before she would give way to Karly Heath in the fourth with the score at 7-3 in the Bulldogs favor.
Heath would get through the fourth inning with a quick three up, three down, but the Bulldogs would get her to give up three hits and three runs before another throwing error would result in the eleventh run crossing the plate and sealing the run rule victory for the Dogs.
The Gamecocks would get all three of their runs off of two home runs from Mackenzie Boesel and Lauren Stewart in the third and fourth after they found themselves down 7-0.
This game was one that the ladies will just have to sweep under the rug and call it a one off, as this the first time they have been run ruled this season.
All in all, the opening SEC series of the year did not go according to plan.
But there are seven more series this season and plenty of opportunities to make up for this one as the Gamecocks will look to regroup and prep for the upcoming weekend series versus the Bayou Bengals of LSU in Columbia this weekend.
LSU currently sits at #4 in the country and, barring a crazy upset by South Alabama Tuesday, will be 21-3 coming into this weekend looking to start their SEC play against the Gamecocks on a positive note.
The Gamecocks will have two non-conference opponents this week before they face the Tigers to tune up and get ready in Coastal Carolina and Winthrop.
The Gamecocks will need to come ready to play and try to limit LSU’s offense, which averages seven runs per game.