Entering the bottom of the seventh inning against Virginia Tech on Wednesday, March 8, South Carolina had not led the entire game and found itself down 3-1 to the Hokies.
No matter, the Gamecocks have become proficient this season at creating drama.
A sacrifice fly by Taylor Williams made it a one-run game, and a two-run single by Tiara Duffy sent the Gamecocks to a walk-off, 4-3 victory over Virginia Tech at Carolina Softball Stadium.
Duffy's bases loaded hit went off the third baseman, and when it trickled into left field, she turned her attention to Victoria Williams, who was standing on second base as the winning run.
"Vic, run faster," Duffy said of what she was thinking as the ball went to the outfield.
Run faster Victoria Williams did, and it was the fifth time the Gamecocks have walked off this season alone.
"I thought they showed a lot of composure in the seventh inning," head coach Beverly Smith said of her team. "We've been here before, and I feel like they did a nice job loading the bases and Tiara Duffy came up with the clutch hit."
The Gamecocks (17-5) had a prime opportunity to crack the scoreboard in the third inning, but weren't able to get it done. Mackenzie Boesel led off the frame with an infield single, and Krystan White reached base on an error. The two base runners completed a double steal to put two in scoring position with no outs.
However, a weak groundout resulted in the first out before Boesel was thrown out at home on another ground ball. Taylor Williams made it three ground ball outs in a row, and South Carolina came up empty-handed.
Virginia Tech (10-8) used a triple by Olivia Lattin to get a runner into scoring position in the top of the fourth, and the Hokies took advantage. Lattin came home on a fielder's choice to give Virginia Tech a 1-0 lead halfway through the game.
The Gamecocks received an opportunity with more runners in scoring position in the fourth, and this time they pushed across a run. Victoria Williams sliced a leadoff double to begin the frame, and later scored on a RBI infield single by Krystan White.
The Hokies were able to quickly take back the lead in the top of the fifth off reliever Nickie Blue. Blue was able to get an out, but with runners on the corners was replaced by the starter, Jessica Elliott. Elliott gave up a sharp ground ball right to White at short, but it was enough to score a run and make it 2-1 Virginia Tech. The bases became loaded in that inning, but Elliott got another groundout to escape further trouble.
"We continued to pitch and play good defense and limit a very good-hitting Virginia Tech team," Smith said. "We quieted their bats tonight."
Lauren Duff was able to smash a solo home run off the net in left field to extend the Hokies' lead to 3-1 in the sixth inning.
The score would remain that way until the bottom of the seventh when the Gamecocks worked their magic. Kaylea Snaer led off the frame with an infield single before Kennedy Clark drew a walk. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch, and a run came home on Taylor Williams' sacrifice fly. Victoria Williams, who Smith said played very well against the Hokies, and pinch-hitter Shannon Plese both walked to load the bases for Duffy.
"The game wasn't what we wanted it to be, and we didn't play our best, but it's good to know that we can still pull out the win," Duffy concluded.
Boesel was 3-for-3 with a walk to continue her tremendous season while Victoria Williams added two hits and two runs scored.
The Gamecocks start SEC play on Friday, March 10, with a trip to No. 14 Tennessee.
**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**