Dec. 3, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina head coach Beverly Smith has scheduled another tough slate of games for her sixth Gamecock squad, as she announces her 2016 campaign today.
“I am testing the team from the first pitch of the season with high level competition at the USF Tournament,” remarked Smith on her 2016 schedule. “Gamecock fans can look forward to 33 home games at beautiful Beckham Field. The 2016 team is ready to make some noise. We return first-team All American Alaynie Page and ace pitcher Nickie Blue. Come out and watch some exciting softball action.”
The Gamecocks will open the season on Fri., Feb. 12, in Tampa, Fla., against Michigan, the first of four foes that played in last year’s NCAA Women’s College World Series. South Carolina also faces another team that made last year’s regionals that weekend in Virginia Tech, while Illinois State and the host USF Bulls round out the field.
Thirty-three home games are on the docket for the Gamecocks. South Carolina’s home opener is set for 1 p.m. on Wed., Feb. 17, against longtime rival and 2015 NCAA Tournament participant North Carolina. Thefollowing weekend, defending Big South Conference champ Longwood highlights the Gamecock Invitational field, with the Lancers and Gamecocks squaring off on Sun., Feb. 21, at 12:30 p.m.
The nine other games against WCWS teams come in Southeastern Conference play, as the Gamecocks face Auburn (March 25-27) and LSU (April 22-24) on the road while hosting Alabama in the final home weekend of the year (April 29-May 1). Three more teams that made Super Regionals are a part of South Carolina’s league slate, hosting Kentucky (March 11-13) and Georgia (March 19-21) on consecutive weekends to start the season while closing the year at Missouri (May 6-8). Also on the SEC slate is a trip to Arkansas (April 8-10) and a home series against Mississippi (April 15-17).
One trip to the West Coast is set, with the Gamecocks playing in a tournament at UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 26-28, while the team returns home for the Carolina Classic on March 4-6. Regional foes come to Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field for midweek games with Coastal Carolina (Feb. 23), Western Carolina (March 1), Charleston Southern (March 22), UNC Wilmington (April 5), Georgia Southern (April 19) and Furman (April 26) all visiting. Two midweek trips are scheduled on March 30 at Charlotte and April 12 at USC Upstate.
Of note, while Smith faces her alma mater North Carolina to start the home season, former Gamecocks return to Columbia as assistant coaches with UNC Greensboro (Chelsea Hawkins on Feb. 19), Connecticut (Chrissy Schoonmaker on March 4) and Michigan State (Kaela Jackson on March 5).
In total, the Gamecocks, who have played in the last three NCAA Tournaments, will play 23 games against 2015 NCAA Tournament teams, with 19 against programs that played in last year’s Super Regionals and 10 from last year’s Women’s College World Series.
South Carolina returns eight position starters and one starting pitcher from last year’s 38-22 team that made the program’s 18th appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
Season ticket deposits can be made at GamecocksOnline.com/tickets. Adult season tickets are $25, while youth 17 and under get in for $10.