Coming off a series win in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, against in-state rival Alabama, the No. 17 Auburn Tigers travel to Columbia, South Carolina, to face the Gamecocks in their last away series of the regular season.
A dominant pitching performance by ace Maddie Penta allowed the Tigers to knock off the Crimson Tide for the first time since 2018. With her pair of wins, Penta improved to 21-5 on the season, making her the first Auburn pitcher to record at least 20 wins in back-to-back seasons since Kaylee Carlson in 2017 and 2018.
The Gamecocks are looking to bounce back in SEC play after being swept by Georgia. South Carolina is 7-11 in SEC play, placing the Gamecocks in seventh place in the conference.
Auburn last traveled to South Carolina in 2017, and the Gamecocks have won six of the past 10 meetings between the teams. The Tigers, however, lead the all-time series 38-31.
The Gamecocks will likely start senior Donnie Gobourne on the mound. Gobourne has an 8-4 record on the season and was selected 17th overall by the Oklahoma City Spark in the Women’s Professional Fastpitch Draft Monday night.
Crucial to South Carolina’s performance this weekend are junior Riley Blampied and fifth-year Jordan Fabian. Blampied (.293 batting average) leads the Gamecocks in RBIs (35), and Fabian (.207) leads the teams in bases stolen (17). Currently, the Gamecocks lead the SEC in both stolen bases per game (2.06) and total stolen bases (97).
The Gamecocks, facing a ranked Auburn team, have some experience this season defeating ranked opponents. This season, South Carolina has defeated No. 14 LSU, No. 11 Florida twice and No. 16 Alabama.
Auburn will seek offensive success from Denver Bryant (.294), Bri Ellis (.299) and Nellie Peralta (.349).
Peralta is coming off her third straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 against Alabama. Bryant and Ellis’ two-out hitting was the difference maker in the Tigers performance against Alabama as Bryant and Ellis snagged a pair of two-out RBIs in the game that gave the Tigers the lead over Alabama. Ellis currently leads the Tigers in RBIs (38).
With a series win this weekend, the Tigers will have won two consecutive road series for the first time since 2019. Additionally, head coach Mickey Dean is two wins away from recording his 200th victory as head coach of the Tigers.
Auburn’s final road series begins in Columbia this Friday, April 28, at 5 p.m. CST. Saturday’s game will begin at 1 p.m. CST, and Sunday’s game will begin at 12 p.m. CST. All games will be streamed on SEC Network+.
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Grace Heim is a sophomore from Enterprise, Alabama majoring in English Literature. She started with The Plainsman in January 2023.