South Carolina blasted its way to a 12-2 victory over St. Francis (Pa.) in its NCAA Softball Tournament regional opener in Tuscon, Ariz., on Friday.
The Gamecocks (33-23) advance to play host Arizona (49-7) at 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.
South Carolina pitcher Cayla Drotar (7-4) threw a 4-hitter against the Northeast Conference champion Red Flash, which had won 21 straight games entering the action.
The Gamecocks roughed up three different St. Francis pitchers with freshman Mackenzie Boesel going 3 for 3 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI — both tying South Carolina single-game records.
One of Boesel’s home runs was a grand slam.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 20, 2017
“I was really just looking for a pitch in the zone and to put a good swing on it to help my team out,” Boesel said. “I hit balls up in the zone today, so I think I was able to get more power on them.”
The host Wildcats are the NCAA Softball Tournament’s No. 2 overall seed and beat New Mexico State (29-24) by an 11-0 count on Friday night.
Mike Candrea, who has led Arizona to eight national championships, said he’s focused on having his team ready for South Carolina.
“They have a little power and they have some speed, and they play in a good conference, we have to come out and play our game and shut them down,” Candrea said. “At this stage of the game right now, you have to worry about your opponent, but I have to worry about us, and what we do.”
Arizona hasn’t been to the Women’s College World Series since 2010, and it was clear Candrea and his Pac-12 championship team are determined to return to Oklahoma City.
“It’s not an easy road to get there,” Candrea said Friday night. “When you get on a roll like we did and it was an annual event, it makes it look easy.
“But yeah, we want to be there, it’s an obvious.”