South Carolina Softball: Gamecocks end season in Regional play

The South Carolina softball team won two games in the Durham Regional but couldn't knock off the host Duke Blue Devils, losing twice to end their season.
South Carolina softball senior Jen Cummings
South Carolina softball senior Jen Cummings / Ken Ruinard / staff / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Carolina softball had already played three games in the NCAA Tournament when they matched up with the Regional host Duke Blue Devils on Sunday. It was the second meeting between the two schools over the weekend, and the home team had taken the first leg. If the Gamecocks were to advance to their first Super Regional since 2018, they would need to beat the Blue Devils two times in a row.

Sunday's game only happened because the Gamecocks knocked off the Utah Utes (for the second time) earlier in the day. Alana Vawter finished that game and used those three innings as a warm-up for starting the second.

Vawter's strong work continued into the Duke game as she didn't allow a single earned run in the first 6 innings of the contest. Unfortunately, because of an error in the 4th inning, the Blue Devils ended up plating 2 runs in the frame. With 1 out in the 7th (South Carolina technically was the home team due to Regional format rules), the Duke offense broke through against Vawter and freshman Sage Mardjetko with an 8-run frame to push their lead to 10-1.

The Gamecock offense couldn't get things going. They managed just 3 hits for the entire game and scored their only run with some help from a Duke error. With 8 strikeouts compared to just 1 walk, baserunners were hard to come by for Bev Smith's team.

The final score was 10-1, an even larger margin of defeat than the first game against the Blue Devils on Saturday, and the last inning was the difference once again.

The loss ends the 2024 South Carolina softball season. A strong effort against one of the top teams in the country was not a shameful way to go out, but the Gamecocks' Super Regional drought continues nonetheless.


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