Duke softball sets program record with run-rule win over South Carolina in NCAA Regional

Duke softball continued its quest for a national title Saturday and set another program record in the process.

The No. 10 seed Blue Devils downed South Carolina, 8-0, in an NCAA Regional winners’ bracket game, earning their 49th win of the season, a new school record.

Duke (49-6) will play at 1 p.m. Sunday, against an opponent to be determined. South Carolina (34-23) could get another shot at the Blue Devils. The Gamecocks play an elimination game Saturday afternoon, with the winner advancing to Sunday.

“Every year we continue to take steps forward, and it really is a testament to the seniors and the upperclassmen who continue to want more for all of us,” Duke head coach Marissa Young said after her team tied the win record Friday. “We’re not done yet. Being able to compete in the postseason, this is when it matters most. We’ve got to show up and play your best softball.”

Duke knew South Carolina wasn’t a heavy-hitting squad; the Gamecocks are known more for their pitching and defense. USC entered the game ranked No. 15 in ERA (2.07) and No. 9 for double plays per game (0.55), one of which it successfully pulled off in the first frame.

The Blue Devils fired on full cylinders to earn the well-rounded win.

Center fielder D’Auna Jennings highlighted the scoring, hitting her first career home run in the bottom of the third and putting Duke on the board. Young moved Jennings to the top of the batting order ahead of the ACC Championship game after she hit 3 of 4 in the conference semifinals. The sophomore is 7 of 12 at the plate through three games.

Duke continued its scoring in the subsequent inning thanks to sloppy South Carolina pitching. Shortstop Jada Baker and designated player Francesca Frelick reached base after getting hit and advanced into scoring position with a double steal. They crossed home on first baseman Gisele Tapia’s single. Tapia has accounted for five RBI in the past three contests.

Two innings later, ACC Player of the Year and National Player of the Year finalist Claire Davidson hit a two-out, bases-loaded single. The right fielder’s second hit of the day drove in Baker and Frelick.

Pitcher Jala Wright earned her second straight start in the circle, and the senior also proved why she earned the ACC’s top positional honor. Wright held the Gamecocks scoreless and recorded a trio of 1-2-3 innings.

This story will be updated with quotes and post game information.