South Carolina Softball: Gamecocks drop second game of NCAA Tournament, play again Saturday

South Carolina softball knocked off the Utah Utes on Friday but couldn't overcome the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday in the NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina Gamecocks softball infielder Zoe Laneaux
South Carolina Gamecocks softball infielder Zoe Laneaux / Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

The South Carolina Gamecocks softball team won their first game of the NCAA Tournament on Friday with a 2-1 victory over the Utah Utes. Their reward for winning, though, was a date with the 10th overall seed Duke Blue Devils, the host team of the Durham, North Carolina Regional.

After Alana Vawter pitched well to earn the win in the first game of the Regional, freshman star Sage Mardjetko was called to the circle for Saturday's contest. Mardjetko had a decent day, but the tough offensive Blue Devils cracked through for 3 runs against her. Then, with the game seemingly in hand, they tacked on 5 more against the Gamecock bullpen.

USC's offense couldn't get going in this game. Scoring 0 runs, the Gamecocks had just 2 hits in the game. Even without Duke's late surge in the 6th inning, Carolina didn't have a real chance to win the contest with how quiet their bats were on Saturday.

In the game, the Gamecock defense set a new program record for single-season double plays (32) as Denver Bryant (second base), Brooke Blankenship (shortstop), and Jen Cummings (first base) teamed up for the 4-6-3 DP on a ground ball in the 1st inning. Left fielder Marissa Gonzalez also robbed a home run in the 6th inning before the floodgates opened.

South Carolina softball will play again later Saturday afternoon. The winner of the Morgan State Bears and Utah Utes will earn the right to play the Gamecocks for a chance to emerge from the loser's bracket. Whichever of those three teams wins that game will get a chance to take on Duke on Sunday. The Gamecocks, Bears, or Utes will have to beat the Blue Devils twice in order to advance to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. Duke only needs one more win to take the Regional championship.


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