South Carolina Softball: Gamecocks win again, get another shot at Duke

Bev Smith's South Carolina softball team won again in the NCAA Tournament and will have another chance to take on the Duke Blue Devils.
South Carolina softball coach Bev Smith
South Carolina softball coach Bev Smith / Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina softball beat the Utah Utes in their first game of the NCAA Tournament but dropped game 2 against the Duke Blue Devils. That dropped them into the losers' bracket and forced them to take on Utah again for the right to face Duke again.

Unlike the first meeting with the Utes, this one had some offensive fireworks early. In the top of the 1st, the Gamecocks loaded the bases, and Aniyah Black hammered a ball to left field that easily cleared the fence for a grand slam. The 4-0 lead was in jeopardy in the bottom half of the frame as Utah loaded the bases in return, but USC pitcher Jori Heard got out of the jam without surrendering a run.

Heard allowed another couple of baserunners in the game but clutchly dealt with each situation by getting out of trouble unscathed. Just a day after Marissa Gonzalez took the top spot on SportsCenter's Top 10, a nice diving play in foul territory by third baseman Zoe Laneaux and another stellar play in left from Gonzalez helped the cause, as well.

Heard wound up going 4 innings without allowing a run before All-SEC pitcher Alana Vawter entered and shut the door over the final 3 frames. A 5-1 final score kept the Gamecocks alive and moved them on to play again, two wins away from advancing to their first Super Regional since 2018.

With the win, the Gamecocks will take on the Duke Blue Devils later on Sunday. If Carolina wins again, there will be a winner-take-all showdown between the two teams from bordering states. The winner will advance to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament and will match up with the winner of the Missouri Tigers-Omaha Mavericks showdown in the Columbia, Missouri Regional.


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