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No. 16 South Carolina Outlasts Furman, 9-7

Taylor Vahle
Taylor Vahle

Columbia, S.C. -- Kennedy Clark belted a two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to help 16th-ranked South Carolina outlast Furman, 9-7, in non-conference softball action Wednesday night at Carolina Softball Stadium in Columbia, S.C.

With the Gamecocks clinging to a 7-6 lead in the bottom of the sixth, Jana Johns worked a leadoff walk and Clark followed by blasting a two-run shot off of the scoreboard in right-center field. In the top of the seventh, Furman's Taylor Vahle started the frame with a single up the middle and scored on Tess Griswold's RBI double into the gap, but South Carolina's Dixie Raley entered the game in relief and retired three of the four batters she faced to secure the win and earn her third save of the season.

Starter Karly Heath picked up the victory for the Gamecocks after surrendering two runs on five hits over four innings of work. The win improved the right-hander to 8-0 on the season.

The Gamecocks (29-11) grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first inning with the help of an error and a two-out, two-run single from Alyssa Kumiyama. Furman (10-26) answered with a pair of runs in the top of the third. Sarah Windham opened the inning with a double and scored on Casey Bigham's single to center. Emily DeMonte delivered a two-out single up the middle to trim the margin to 3-2.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, South Carolina set the table with a walk and a bunt single before Mackenzie Boesel laced a two-run double into the gap. Clark and Cayla Drotar followed with RBI doubles to extend the South Carolina lead to 7-2 after four innings.

Furman put together another rally in the fifth as Cammy Pereira singled and Bigham and Marissa Guimbarda drew walks to load the bases.  With one out, Vahle lined a two-run double to right field. Griswold followed with an RBI single through the right side and Vahle raced home with a second run when the throw to the plate skipped to the backstop.

DeMonte (8-12) suffered the loss for the Paladins after allowing seven earned runs on nine hits in a complete game effort.

Pereira went 3-for-5 to pace the Paladin offense, while Vahle and Griswold each went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Windham went 1-for-2 with a double and two walks.

Boesel doubled twice, scored two runs and drove in two. Clark doubled, homered and batted in three for the Gamecocks.

Furman returns to action  this weekend when it faces nationally-ranked Arkansas in a three-game series in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday and Sunday. The series will be streamed live on the SEC Network+.