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Analysis: Gamecock softball defeats Charleston Southern 6-0, turns 1st triple play in program history

<p>FILE- Sophomore pitcher Jori Heard pitches a ball during South Carolina’s game against Tennessee on March 23, 2024. Heard pitched five innings in the Gamecocks' 6-0 victory over Charleston Southern on March 27, 2024.</p>
FILE- Sophomore pitcher Jori Heard pitches a ball during Թϱ’s game against Tennessee on March 23, 2024. Heard pitched five innings in the Gamecocks' 6-0 victory over Charleston Southern on March 27, 2024.

The Թϱ softball team used dominant pitching and defense to defeat the Charleston Southern Buccaneers 6-0 in game one of a rain-shortened doubleheader on Wednesday.

Fifth-year pitcher Bailey Betenbaugh got the start for the Gamecocks. Across two innings, she struck out a pair of batters while giving up three hits on 31 pitches. 

Sophomore pitcher Jori Heard followed Betenbaugh, delivering five innings of work. Heard held the Buccaneers' offense to zero hits and struck out one batter. She did not register a single walk.

Offensively, the Gamecocks started off hot with a two-run homer by senior utility player Aniyah Black in the first inning. In the bottom of the second, junior infielder Brooke Blankenship hit a sacrifice fly that scored junior outfielder Marissa Gonzalez.

A double by redshirt senior utility player Kianna Jones scored another run in the fifth inning, and Black followed her with another two-run homer — her second of the game.

But the highlight of the game came in the third inning, when Թϱ recorded its first triple play in program history.

The second game of the two-game set was called off after one inning due to inclement weather. The game is scheduled to be resumed on April 23.

Here are some key takeaways from the game.

One for the history books

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In the top of the third inning, the Gamecocks charted new ground by turning its first triple play in program history.

Charleston Southern's junior outfielder Weslin Jones attempted a bunt that was fielded by Heard, and Heard threw to Black at first base for the initial out. Black then tossed it to freshman infielder Karley Shelton at second base for the second out, and Shelton threw to senior infielder Zoe Laneaux at third base for the third out.

The Buccaneers failed to record a baserunner for the rest of the game.

The play highlights what was a remarkable day for Թϱ's pitching and defense. The team prevented Charleston Southern from scoring and had a faultless day fielding the ball, as it did not commit a single error in the game.

Black propels Gamecocks to victory

Black's hot start to the season continued against the Buccaneers. Her home runs in the first and fifth innings raised her to three homers on the season, and she now also leads the team in RBIs, with 23. 

With the win, Black has secured a .301 batting average. She is also second on the team in hits with 25, trailing only senior infielder Riley Blampied, who has 34.

Black gives the Gamecocks a veteran presence to depend on, as she has collected 29 starts in 31 total appearances. 

Impressive pitching continues

The two pitchers that appeared in the contest — Betenbaugh and Heard — combined to give up just three hits on 68 pitches. The two also only walked one batter on the day.

Heading into the matchup, the Gamecocks' pitching staff was ranked fifth in the SEC in ERA, with 1.84. Opponents were also only hitting a .185 batting average against Թϱ's pitching, which ranked third in the league.

The Gamecocks' high-level pitching will be valuable against SEC competition. The conference boasts 12 teams with at least 20 wins. After two series in league play, Kentucky and Թϱ are the only two teams without a conference win.

What's next?

Թϱ will return to action with a three-game series against Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi, on Friday. The first pitch for game one is slated for 7 p.m., and the series will be broadcast on SEC Network+.


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