May 21, 2017
TUCSON, Ariz. — South Carolina (34-24) fought through a long day and claimed a 3-1 win over St. Francis (49-11) to advance to Sunday's championship round in the Tucson Regional at Hillenbrand Stadium.
South Carolina got on the board early thanks to senior Victoria Williams and an error by St. Francis. A single by junior Tiara Duffy started the game, and freshman Mackenzie Boesel drew a walk ahead of Williams' single to right. The Red Flash right fielder misplayed the ball to give Duffy an easier chance to score.
Boesel made it 3-0 in the fifth with her 10th homer of the year, a two-run blast to center. Junior Kamryn Watts set up the two-run homer with her bunt single.
St. Francis, after threatening in four of the first five frames, broke through for a run in the sixth. Loading the bases with two down, a grounder to the left side was mishandled, letting the Red Flash's Kindra Witthus score from third. But the Gamecocks brought in senior Nickie Blue, who induced a grounder to end the frame.
Gamecock senior Jessica Elliott (16-9) worked into and out of trouble most of the night in the victory. She scattered seven hits and six walks in 5.2 innings of work. She struck out four. St. Francis's Abby Trahan (15-4) took the loss, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and three walks.
Blue struck out two and walked one in 1.1 innings for her fifth save of the year.
Boesel's home run provided the breathing room the Gamecocks needed.
St. Francis left 14 runners on base thanks to great escape work by Elliott, Blue and the Gamecock defense.
Boesel's blast tied her for fifth in South Carolina's single-season record book in homers, while she's now tied for eighth in RBI with four others (41).
Duffy and Williams both went 2-for-3 with a walk a piece for the Gamecocks.
Witthus went 3-for-4 and scored the Red Flash's lone run.
St. Francis's Jordan Seneca drew four of the team's six walks.
It's the Gamecocks' third time to play on the final day of a regional under Beverly Smith.
TWEET OF THE GAME
Quoting head coach Beverly Smith
The Gamecocks and No. 2 national seed Arizona meet again at 4 p.m. MST in Sunday's championship game. If South Carolina wins, a second game will start 30 minutes after game one.
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