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Sept. 18, 2014


COLUMBIA, S.C. – After two weeks of practices, South Carolina starts its fall exhibition season with a double dip at North Carolina, with first pitch scheduled for 2 p.m. at Anderson Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.

The Gamecocks return all but 28 innings in the circle from a group that helped the team to its second-consecutive NCAA Tournament. Redshirt senior Julie Sarratt and sophomore Nickie Blue now have an addition to their 1-2 punch, as freshman Hayley Copeland joins the squad. The rookie is a two-time MaxPreps All-American from Esperanza High School in California, and she’s one of seven Gamecocks who will see their first action in the Garnet and Black against the Tar Heels.

Joining Copeland as newcomers will be Jordyn Augustus, Caroline Cash, Tiara Duffy, Aubrey Rabun, Kamryn Watts and Krystan White. Cash, Rabun and White hail from the Palmetto State, joining five returners who stayed at the state’s flagship institution (Sarratt, Ansley Ard, Jordan Bizzell, Alaynie Page and Victoria Williams).

Also back for head coach Beverly Smith’s group are six starters from a lineup that powered the team to four new single-season marks, including 53 home runs and a .464 slugging percentage. Senior Sarah Mooney set the single-season homer mark in 2014 with 12 round-trippers, while sophomore Kaylea Snaer added eight despite missing nine games late in the season.

Mooney and Sarratt join four-year seniors Olivia Lawrence and Kristen Struett as the team’s veteran nucleus, a group that helped turn the team from 23-32 in 2012 to the back-to-back NCAA Regional bids.

A recap of the doubleheader will be posted next week to