The host No. 11/10 South Carolina Gamecocks got a three-hit shutout from Dixie Raley, edging Liberty, 2-0, on Sunday to force a winner-take-all final at the NCAA Columbia Regional.
South Carolina (48-15) avenged a 3-1 loss at the hands of Liberty from yesterday. Both teams are 2-1 at this Regional heading into the seventh and final game. Liberty saw its 19-game winning streak end, during which the Lady Flames outscored opponents, 95-17. The Lady Flames are looking to become the first Big South softball team to qualify for a Super Regional.
Raley (15-4) allowed just three hits, walking three and striking out eight in recording her fifth shutout of the season.
Julia DiMartino (29-8), who pitched every inning of the Lady Flames' first three Regional games, drew the loss, allowing two runs on five hits, walking one and striking out two.
Cayla Drotar went 1-for-3 with a homer, two RBI and one run scored, while Mackenzie Boesel batted 2-for-3 with a double and one run scored.
Autumn Bishop went 2-for-3 for Liberty, while Alexia Taylor batted 1-for-3 with a double.
Jaclyn Amader walked and stole second with one out in the bottom of the first. However, Raley struck out Sarah Robertson for the third out.
Alyssa VanDerveer drew a one-out walk in the second. Krystan White then singled in the infield after two outs, but Tiara Duffy popped out to shortstop to end the rally.
With two outs in the top of the third, Boesel dropped a double down the line in left. Drotar then blasted a two-run homer inside the left-field foul pole, making it 2-0, Gamecocks.
Autumn Bishop lined a one-out single into center and went to third when the hit got past center fielder Kamryn Watts. Amber Bishop then sent a drive to the wall in right center that right fielder Duffy tracked down for the final out of the frame.
Raley walked Amader to start the bottom of the fourth. Amader then stole second before Robertson drew a walk. The South Carolina right-hander struck out Kaitlin McFarland and Madison Via before getting Hoffman on a groundout to first.
Click caught a Kenzi Maguire fly ball at the fence to start the fifth. Boesel then sent a single to right. DiMartino got out of the jam with a flyout and a groundout.
Autumn Bishop lined a single to right with two outs in the bottom of the fifth. Amber Bishop then bounced out to the pitcher.
Taylor gave Liberty life with a two-out double to right center in the bottom of the seventh. Raley completed the shutout by striking out pinch hitter Deidra See.