Beverly Smith recaps South Carolina’s win over Charleston Southern
If this was, indeed, the last home game of South Carolina’s 2018 season, the Gamecocks produced a lasting memory Wednesday.
But the way USC mercy-ruled Charleston Southern 14-0 in five innings was more proof that Beckham Field could be in use later this month when the NCAA tournament begins.
No. 12 Carolina is now 42-11 as it heads into a weekend series at 20th-ranked Kentucky. It’s the SEC tournament after that, followed by the Big Dance. The Gamecocks looked the part of a regional host Wednesday as they smashed three home runs and got five shutout frames from Dixie Raley.
"I think what I wanted out of the game was exactly what the girls did," said USC coach Beverly Smith. "It was important for us to attack early. The fact that we scored every inning just says that we were consistent at the plate."
The performance marked the seventh time this season South Carolina has needed less than the scheduled seven innings to score a win. USC second baseman Mackenzie Boesel out-hit the Buccaneers, three to one. Two of her knocks were homers, including her second-career grand slam in the third inning. She finished with eight RBIs.
"I think everyone on the team was hitting, and I was just looking for a pitch to drive," Boesel said, "and I got those. And I took advantage of it. When everyone's hitting, it's just contagious to keep it going."
Alyssa VanDerveer had a two-run blast in the second to give the Gamecocks a 7-0 advantage. The senior’s up to a team-best 13 HRs on the season.
Every South Carolina starter either had a hit, run or RBI. Kenzi Maguire went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
"Midweek (games) are a good time to work on things," said VanDerveer, "but we also take every game seriously. For us, it was just coming in and continuing to hit well. I thought we hit really well this past weekend (in a sweep of Mississippi State), and we wanted to continue that streak."
The offensive effort — which produced 11 hits — was more than enough for Raley. Appearing for the first time since April 21 against Missouri, the junior was perfect until allowing a one-out walk in the third inning. She finished with 10 strikeouts to two walks, improving her record to 11-4.
"I was really impressed with Dixie's outing today," Smith said. "She didn't throw last weekend against Mississippi State, and came out today and looked great."
The Gamecocks finished the regular season with a 25-2 home record. Game one at Kentucky is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday.