The Gamecocks' run in the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional ended quickly and decisively Saturday afternoon, falling 8-0 to South Carolina-Upstate in an elimination game. The game ended in the bottom of the fifth because of the mercy rule. JSU didn't manage a base-runner in its 15 at-bats.
It marked a disappointing end to the season for the Gamecocks (30-27), who last week won four games to take the OVC tournament. And on Friday night, they threw a scare into the home crowd by battling the Crimson Tide before going down 4-0.
"As a coach, last night after the energy of the game against Alabama, I was kind of worried how we would be the next day," JSU coach Jana McGinnis said. "But they were fine. They were the same. They seemed focused."
In the end, the hallmarks of JSU's success this season were missing. McGinnis said that includes solid pitching, cutting down on walks, swinging at good pitches and making the routine plays in the field.
"We didn't do that today," McGinnis said.
Upstate broke a 0-0 tie with five runs in the bottom of the fourth off JSU pitcher Tiffany Harbin (17-15). Only one was earned. Upstate managed three more runs in the bottom of the fifth. Gamecocks left fielder Krystal Ruth provided the highlight of the inning by managing to throw out a runner at home.
Meanwhile, JSU couldn't solve Upstate pitcher Anna Miller, who struck out four.
"She was a really good pitcher," JSU senior third baseman Cara Longworth said. "She had a great drop ball."
But Longworth added that she and her teammates didn't always take advantage of their chances against Miller: "I let one pitch go by that I should've taken down the right field line."
McGinnis said she had a simple message for her team afterward: Try to forget this one bad day out of a 57-game season.
"They won a conference championship and got to a regional," McGinnis said. "I'm so proud of them for what they did. Don't let this last game burn in your mind."
Longworth seemed to absorb McGinnis' lesson. She called every regional game in which JSU got to play a "blessing."
"As a mid-major team, we wanted to show our program could compete with Bama and the other teams. So, even though we lost and I'm crying, I'm happy," Longworth said, managing a smile.
Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at email@example.com or 256-235-3570.