Late Gamecock Rally Ends Softball's Season, 4-3
COLUMBIA, S.C. Jessica Josker crushed a three-run double in the bottom of the fifth, capping a late South Carolina rally to push the Gamecocks past NC State, 4-3, and end the Pack’s season on Saturday, May 19. Shaina Ervin (13-12) picked up the loss, Kate Pouliot (16-6) grabbed the win and Melissa Hendon got her third save. South Carolina moves to 36-24 on the season, while NC State’s year comes to a close at 42-21.
The Pack threatened immediately, but couldn’t push any runs across. Heather Gelbard drove the third pitch of the game off of the right field wall for a leadoff double and Krystal Hawkins came on to run in her place. But Hawkins was left stranded as Blair Harkey fouled out, and Jen Chamberlin and Miranda Ervin both grounded out.
McKenna Hughes crushed a two-out solo home run to left field, her 11th of the year, to put South Carolina up 1-0 in the bottom of the first.
State took a 3-1 lead on three hits, two costly Gamecock errors, and a wild pitch in the top of the third. Gelbard grabbed a one-out single to right, and Harkey reached when Pouliot misplayed a dribbler back to the circle. Chamberlin then ripped an RBI single up the middle, and center fielder Tori Martin booted the ball, allowing all baserunners to take an extra bag. Miranda Ervin followed with another RBI base hit right back up the middle, and Chamberlin later scored on a wild pitch to Allison Presnell.
Chamberlin’s single extended her hitting streak to 11-straight, the best mark in program history.
Head coach Lisa Navas’ squad nearly added to its lead in the top of the fourth, but failed to collect any insurance runs. Megan Dalthorp singled through the left side with one out, and Kristine Bechtholdt ripped a line drive base hit into center, but Gelbard flew out to center, and Harkey went down swinging.
South Carolina gave the Pack a scare in the bottom half of the fourth, but Shaina Ervin remained calm and shut the door on the Gamecocks scoring opportunity. Hughes drew a leadoff walk and Ervin responded by fanning Josker. Lindsay Walker followed with a single through the left side, but was forced out at second when Ashton Payne sent a fielder’s choice to short. With two outs and runners on the corners, Ervin caught Becky Martinez swinging, and the crisis was averted.
The Gamecocks, however, bounced back and re-claimed the lead for good at 4-3 with three runs on three hits in the bottom of the fifth. Jacqueline Wetherbee pushed a leadoff base hit through the right side and Cagney Davis took her spot on the basepath. Martin then slid Davis to second with a sac-bunt to Chamberlin at third, and Lisa Long followed by grounding out to Smith at short. Adele Voigt followed with a single to left and the Pack loaded the bases by intentionally walking Hughes. Josker then cleared the bases with a three-run double to left, putting South Carolina on top.
Sims took over in the circle in the bottom of the sixth, striking out three batters, but the damage had already been done.
The loss ends the collegiate careers of nine seniors that built the Wolfpack program from scratch starting four years ago with the inaugural 2004 season; Jen Chamberlin of San Mateo, Calif., Allison Cuculich of Chicago Heights, Ill., Miranda Ervin of Huntersville, N.C., Shaina Ervin of Huntersville, N.C., Heather Gelbard of Miami, Fla., Laura Klem of St. Anthony, Ind., Jennifer Patterson of Salinas, Calif., Beth Poore of Charlotte, N.C., and Abbie Sims of Artesia, N.M.
NC State will be forever grateful to the 2007 Wolfpack softball senior class for helping to lay the groundwork of a program with unlimited potential.