Knoxville, Tenn. – The USC Upstate softball team secured a 7-3 victory in the opening game of the NCAA Knoxville Regional against Ohio State. The Spartans scored five runs in the top of the seventh inning to comeback and move into the winner's bracket.
After leading for most of the game, the Spartans found themselves down 3-2 entering the top of the seventh inning. Ohio State produced back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the sixth to erase a 2-0 deficit and take the lead. But the Spartans had a comeback in them as well and they got right to work in the top of the seventh. Brittany Case singled to shortstop to start the inning, then was brought home when Abbie Millete hit a sharp bouncer up the middle, which the Buckeye shortstop couldn't field cleanly. The game was tied 3-3 with Millete on second and nobody out.
USC Upstate continued to take advantage of Ohio State mistakes in the top of the seventh as Ryan Rector and Karla Beasley reached to load the bases with no outs. Kori Wancheck stepped to the plate and delivered the go-ahead run with a bloop single to right field as the bases remained loaded.
After a pitching change, Rector scored on some heads up base running on a wild pitch to give the Spartans a 5-3 lead. Kayla Hussey, who went 2-for-4 on the day, executed a suicide squeeze play to perfection to bring home Beasley and make it a 6-3 Spartan lead.
The final run of the inning came courtesy of ASUN Championship MVP Ansley Gilstrap who singled on a high bouncing ball to the pitcher to make it a 7-3 lead as the Spartans scored five runs on five hits and forced three Ohio State errors in the inning alone.
Holly McKinnon pitched a complete game to earn the victory in the circle as McKinnon allowed three runs on five hits and struck out five Buckeye hitters. The victory pushes McKinnon's record to 25-8 on the season. She is now 2-0 in her career against the Buckeyes.
With today's victory, USC Upstate has now won at least one game in each of its five NCAA Tournament appearances. The win also gives ASUN Conference teams 11 NCAA Tournament wins since 2010. The Spartans now await the winner of the Longwood vs. Tennessee matchup in tomorrow's winner's bracket contest. They will be back on the diamond at 12 PM ET live on ESPN3.