No. 11/10 South Carolina won its third elimination game in a row, advancing to the Super Regional round with a 5-0 victory over Liberty in Sunday's winner-take-all final of the NCAA Columbia Regional at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
With the win, its second in a row over Liberty today, South Carolina (49-15) secures a spot in Super Regionals. The Lady Flames (49-14), who came into today needing just one win to make their first-ever trip past NCAA Regional play, end a record-breaking season after going 2-2 this weekend. Firsts achieved by Liberty in Columbia included its first-ever win in an NCAA Regional game, first NCAA postseason shutout, home run and triple, along with its first wins over Top 25 teams since 2007. Liberty is now 2-6 all-time in three trips to NCAA Regional play.
Liberty ends its season with 49 wins, surpassing last year's previous program record for wins in a season (46). The Lady Flames have won 95 games the last two years, posting consecutive 40-win seasons for the first time in program history.
Cayla Drotar (21-6) pitched a four-hit shutout, striking out four and walking two.
Chase Cassady (10-3) drew the loss, giving up one run on four hits in 1 1/3 innings. Elizabeth Engler yielded two runs on three hits, walking two and striking out two in 3 2/3 relief innings. Julia DiMartino allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits in one inning pitched.
South Carolina's Mackenzie Boesel batted 2-for-3 with a triple, two RBI and one run scored. Jana Johns and Krystan White both went 2-for-3, while White doubled and scored twice.
Jaclyn Amader went 2-for-3 for Liberty, while Sarah Robertson batted 1-for-2.
South Carolina broke through in the second. With one out, White and Tiara Duffy hit back-to-back singles. Engler then came on in relief of Cassady. After an Alyssa Kumiyama flyout, Kenzi Maguire reached on a fielder's choice. White raced around to score from second on the play. Engler then walked Boesel to load the bases, but got Drotar on an inning-ending groundout to shortstop.
Jasmeen Click drew a one-out walk in the top of the third. Autumn Bishop flied out and Amber Bishop grounded into a fielder's choice.
Amader led off the fourth with an opposite-field single. Robertson then drew a walk. Drotar retired the next three batters to escape the jam.
Engler retired six straight batters before issuing a two-out walk to Kennedy Clark in the bottom of the fifth. She quickly retired the next batter on a comebacker to the circle.
Robertson lined a sharp single to right with two outs in the top of the sixth. Kaitlin McFarland bounced one to the left of the circle that Drotar sharply snagged and threw to first for the third out.
Jana Johns hit a single to left as the leadoff batter in the bottom of the sixth. White then lifted a straightaway RBI double off the fence for a 2-0 advantage. DiMartino then came on in relief of Engler. An error and a fielder's choice loaded the bases for Boesel, who tucked a two-run triple inside the first-base bag, although Maguire was erased at the plate. Drotar plated Boesel with a single off the wall in left, making it 5-0 before DiMartino could get out of the inning.
Via roped a double to the right-center gap to lead off the seventh, but was thrown out at third when Taylor reached on a fielder's choice. Drotar completed the shutout by getting pinch hitter Deidra See to line out to first base.