Feb. 18, 2016
Gamecock Seniors: Changing the Culture
Gamecock Seniors: Leaving a Legacy
Page – The Loose Leader
Gamecock Freshmen Build Connection before Columbia
Unique Recruiting Trip Impacts Future Gamecocks
Accountability Program for Gamecock Softball
Plew Whitlock Returns Home
Elliott Driven for Success
Augustus Honing Leadership Skills
Video: Softball – The First 18
Gamecock Softball Part of Week of Giving
Webb Part of Mission Trip to Honduras
Gamecock Alums Reunite for Wounded Warrior Amputee Game
Page Goes Behind the Scenes at Colonial Life Arena
WWP Makes Jen Castro Gamecock for a Day
Gamecocks Host Carolina Classic This Weekend
- South Carolina brings a four-game winning streak into this weekend’s Carolina Classic, with 10 games in total scheduled for Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
- The Gamecocks take on UNC Greensboro on Friday at 5 p.m., while they face Ohio on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. South Carolina has a Big South doubleheader on Sunday starting at 12:30 p.m., playing Longwood and Winthrop.
- All four South Carolina games will be broadcast on SEC Network + on Watch ESPN, while Gametracker will be available for every game of the event at GamecocksOnline.com.
South Carolina Team Notes
- South Carolina is the only SEC team to improve its win total in each of the past three season, going from 23 wins in 2012 to 38 in 2015.
- Fledgling outlet College Sports Madness honored senior Alaynie Page on its Preseason All-America second team, while she also made the Preseason All-SEC team from the site and the league’s coaches.
- In a preseason poll of SEC coaches, the Gamecocks ranked 11th of 13. It’s a prediction South Carolina has bettered in each of the previous two seasons.
Offensive Records Falling Regularly for Gamecocks under Smith
- In head coach Beverly Smith’s first five years, the Gamecocks have broken team offensive records 24 times (tracked on page 14 in these notes).
- South Carolina broke four more team offensive records in 2015: home runs (60), HR per game (1.00), on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.473).
- Smith’s teams have set the home run and slugging percentage records now in four-straight seasons and the on-base percentage mark in each of the last three.
- While not a record, the Gamecocks have hit .291 over the past four seasons, 75 points higher than the year before Smith came to Columbia.
Gamecock Pitching Making Strides
- Smith’s pupils in the circle have also improved greatly in her first five seasons.
- Gamecock pitching has improved its strikeout-to-walk ratio in each of the past three seasons.
- Junior Nickie Blue, who led the nation in saves as a freshman, posted over 200 innings in the circle and an ERA under 2.00 in 2015, one of two in the SEC to post such numbers (Lauren Haeger of Florida the other).
- Blue’s 165 strikeouts last season rank 14th in Gamecock history.
- Graduate Julie Sarratt put her name in the career top 10 for pitchers in eight major categories, including a tie for third in appearances (142).
Some of Last Year’s Milestones in SEC Play
- For the second-consecutive year, South Carolina won at least half of its SEC three-game series, marking the seventh time it’s happened since the advent of the three-game series in 2001 (2001-03, `05, `07, `14).
- The five series wins in 2015 was last done in 2005, when the team took six of eight three-game sets.
- That included series wins over No. 9 Tennessee and No. 14 Kentucky.
- The victories at Kentucky marked the first SEC series victory for the Gamecocks on the road at a ranked team.
- South Carolina won its final four series, including two road series triumphs at Kentucky and Mississippi.
Page Soared in 2015
- Last season, left fielder Alaynie Page became the first Gamecock under head coach Beverly Smith to earn NFCA All-America accolades, garnering a spot on the first team.
- Page also gained first-team All-SEC honors from the coaches, the second under Smith (Lauren Lackey, 2012).
- First-team All-SEC honorees Page and Auburn’s Emily Carosone finished 2015 in the top 40 in the country in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
- Page led the team in 12 offensive categories, including batting average (.446), slugging percentage (.826), runs (58), hits (82), doubles (11), triples (7), home runs (15) and RBI (45).
- The Gamecocks’ leadoff hitter has reached base 61.5 percent of the time she’s led off an inning.
- Only on three occasions has she not reached base safely in a game (Western Carolina 2/26, No. 21/20 Missouri 3/9, at No. 14/16 Kentucky-1 4/18).
- Page moved runners up at a team-best 60.8 percentage in 79 opportunities.
Blue Starting to Climb Gamecock Pitching Charts
- Junior Nickie Blue enters 2016 with her name already showing up in South Carolina’s career top 15 in many pitching categories (see page 8).
- She will once again anchor South Carolina’s staff with her heavy drop ball producing ground outs at a 65 percent rate (506-269) in her first two years on campus.
- Blue picked up two saves and a win while throwing in all four games of the USF Wilson Demarini Tournament, helping the Gamecocks shut out Virginia Tech and Illinois State.
We Schedule Tough
- On this year’s schedule, the Gamecocks are set to play 23 of their 56 regular-season games against teams who made the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
- Ten of those come against Women’s College World Series participants, the season opener vs. Michigan and three each in SEC play at Auburn and LSU and at home against Alabama.
- A total of 37 of the Gamecocks’ scheduled games come against teams that finished in the top 101 of the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index last year.
- Thirty-three games are set for Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field, including visits from former Gamecocks turned assistant coaches Chelsea Hawkins (UNC Greensboro), Kaela Jackson (Michigan State) and Chrissy Schoonmaker (Connecticut).
- Seven position player starters return for the Gamecocks from last year’s squad.
- Every major offensive category leader from 2015 returns for the Gamecocks, 14 of those by Alaynie Page.
- SC lost four seniors who combined to start 143 games, including every start at catcher and 57 of 60 starts in centerfield.
- The Gamecocks return over 70 percent of its offense in most categories, from 79.9 percent of their walks to 71.7 percent of the home runs.
- The highest percentage lost in any offensive category is triples at 37.5, with five of those by Kristen Struett.
- Forty of the Gamecocks’ 41 stolen bases return.
- In the circle, 53.1 percent of the innings return, most by staff ace Nickie Blue.
- Blue also brings back 61.4 percent of the team’s strikeouts.
- Five newcomers join the squad, led by NJCAA Pitcher of the Year Jessica Elliott.
- The team is dominated by South Carolina natives, with 25 percent of the roster (five players) hailing from the Palmetto State. California is second with four players.
- The Gamecocks hail from 11 states this year, with the newcomers coming from California, Florida, Kentucky and Ohio.
- Nickie Blue and Hayley Copeland are the first Gamecock duo who are both over six-feet tall.
- While both Williams’ and juniors by class, Taylor and Victoria are not sisters.
Gamecocks Have a Rich History in NCAA Tournament
- South Carolina earned its 18th bid in the NCAA Tournament last season, its third straight under head coach Beverly Smith.
- The Gamecocks are 34-35 in those trips, making three Women’s College World Series in their history (1983, 1989 and 1997).
- The program has five AIAW World Series trips in its history as well prior to 1982.
South Carolina Staff Has Top Credentials
- Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith has been a part of 11 NCAA Tournament teams as a coach (eight at UNC, three at South Carolina).
- Associate head coach Lisa Navas has been to five NCAA Tournaments as an assistant coach (three at SC, one each at UNC and Missouri) and eight as a head coach (six Division II at Barry, two at NC State). Her 1998 Barry squad played in the national championship game.
- Assistant coach Calvin Beamon has three titles to his credit as a player, the biggest a College World Series title at Texas during 2005.
- He also won the NJCAA Division I title in 2003 at the College of Southern Nevada and a high school state championship at Smoky Hill High School in Cherry Creek, Colo.
- Volunteer assistant Tina Plew Whitlock played on the last Gamecock team to make the Women’s College World Series and has coached teams to the NCAA Tournament at the Division II level.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
- South Carolina has played 2,129 games in its softball history, going 1382-740-7 (.651) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
- Beverly Smith is the second person to serve five seasons as South Carolina’s head coach, joining NFCA Hall-of-Fame coach Joyce Compton.
Scouting UNC Greensboro
- The Spartans come to Columbia after going 4-1 in an event at Jacksonville University last weekend, including two wins over Kansas and one each over NC State and Coastal Carolina.
- The Spartans look to once again rely on a strong offense, after out-hitting foes by 20 points last year (.324-.304).
- So far this season, UNC Greensboro has a 5.52 ERA, while its foes have posted a 9.84 mark.
- Only two offensive starters departed from last year’s 25-22 team that went 7-10 in the Southern Conference.
- So far in 2016, twin sisters Lindsay and Nicole Thomas have led the offense, both hitting over .600, with Nicole driving home a team-leading 12 runs.
- The Thomas’ combined for 21 home runs and 96 RBI a year ago.
- Freshman Stephanie Bryden has a .615 batting average, a team-best 1.154 slugging percentage and 11 RBI.
- Danielle Vega also has three extra-base hits and eight RBI.
- Bryden has tossed the most innings so far, fanning 17 in 19.2 innings of work.
- Alicia Bazonski led last year’s team with 139 innings, striking out 70 and walking 51 with a 3.68 ERA.
Ties Between South Carolina and UNC Greensboro
- Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith brought current UNC Greensboro coach Janelle Breneman with her from North Carolina when taking over the job in Columbia.
- Breneman hired former Gamecock standout Chelsea Hawkins as an assistant coach for 2016.
- Danica Bishop played with the same SoCal A’s team that gave South Carolina Kennedy Clark, Hayley Copeland and Kaylea Snaer.
- Kendall McKinney was a part of the Carolina Elite travel-ball group that produced Gamecocks Alaynie Page, Jordan Bizzell, Macey Webb and Krystan White.
SC Series History vs. the Spartans
- South Carolina leads the all-time series 7-1 that dates back to 1995.
- All seven meetings in Columbia have resulted in Gamecock wins.
The Last Meeting – UNC Greensboro at South Carolina – Feb. 9, 2014
- South Carolina closed its opening weekend in the Carolina Classic with a 13-0 (5) win over UNC Greensboro.
- Taylor Williams hit her first career home run in that contest.
- Nickie Blue allowed three hits in three innings of work in the victory.
- Kaylea Snaer scored twice and drove in two runs in the win.
- The Bobcats return four starters from last year’s 15-32 team that went 7-11 in the Mid-American Conference.
- Seven freshmen and two transfers join the Bobcats.
- Danielle Stiene was brought in to help in the circle, as the sophomore transfer had a 2.03 ERA with 213 strikeouts in 155 innings at Hillsdale College in NCAA Division II.
- Almost 250 innings departed from last year’s pitching staff that posted a 5.93 ERA.
- Top hitter Sloan Walker returns, hitting .336 with 11 stolen bases in her junior year, while Amanda Dalton is back as well after stealing 17 bases, with both trying to take one 17 times.
- Sophomore Mikayla Cooper is back after posting six home runs, second on the team.
- Ohio did lose Casie Hutchinson, who hit 14 doubles, as well as Raven King, who launched eight home runs and drove in 38 runs.
SC Series History vs. the Bobcats
- South Carolina has a 6-1 mark all-time against Ohio, including a 4-1 mark in Columbia.
The Last Meeting – Ohio at South Carolina – Feb. 8, 2014
- The Bobcats won a 5-2 decision as part of the 2014 Carolina Classic.
- Alaynie Page had one of the Gamecocks’ three hits with a double in that contest.
- Ohio’s Madison Claytor tripled, homered and drove in four runs in the Bobcats’ win.
- The Lancers made the NCAA Tournament last season after winning the Big South Tournament and finished the season with a 34-25 mark.
- Six offensive starters are back as well as staff ace Elizabeth McCarthy.
- McCarthy struck out 203 batters and walking 78 in 219.2 innings, posting a 3.38 ERA. She did allow 30 home runs.
- Two of the top three home run hitters from a year ago graduated: Megan Baltzell (27) and Chelsea Sciacca (11).
- Back, however, is Emily Murphy, who tallied 17 home runs and 41 RBI as a junior.
- Glenn Walters, Murphy and Justina Augustine all stole 10+ bases, ranking second and tied for third, respectively.
- Augustine led the team with 13 doubles last season as well.
- Carly Adams holds the top batting average among the returners, hitting .329 in her junior campaign.
Ties Between South Carolina and Longwood
- Longwood junior Jenna Carnes played for Carolina Elite during the summers, a group that has produced four current Gamecocks (Jordan Bizzell, Alaynie Page, Macey Webb and Krystan White).
SC Series History vs. the Lancers
- South Carolina has a 7-3 record all-time against Longwood, including a 5-1 mark in Columbia.
The Last Meeting – South Carolina vs. Longwood – Feb. 8, 2015
- After winning the first meeting of the weekend 3-1, South Carolina downed Longwood again on Sunday in the Pirate Classic, taking a 10-0 (5) victory.
- Both Victoria Williams and Jordan Bizzell hit homers in the game, while Nickie Blue held the Lancers to two hits in the five-inning shutout.
- Six starters return from last year’s team that went 26-25 and finished third in the Big South Conference.
- The Eagles had a tough go at Georgia last weekend, falling in all four games by a combined 61-6 score.
- No Winthrop player had more than one hit on the weekend in Athens.
- Last season, K.J. Uyeno posted a team-high 32 walks.
- Eight freshmen are on this year’s roster, with two starting every game last weekend, Morgan Lowers and Blake Wallert.
- In the circle, Dallas King and Bradlee Holeman are back.
- King ranked third on last year’s team with 98 innings of work, posting a 3.50 ERA with 75 strikeouts against 36 walks.
Ties Between South Carolina and Winthrop
- Eagle freshman Brooke Ellison and Gamecock junior Victoria Williams both played at Palmetto High.
- Ten Winthrop players hail from the Palmetto State, and it’s likely many played on the same travel-ball teams as the five South Carolina natives on the Gamecock roster.
SC Series History vs. the Eagles
- The Gamecocks are 47-8-1 all-time in the meetings, including a 29-2 mark in games played in Columbia.
The Last Meeting – South Carolina at Winthrop – March 18, 2015
- South Carolina claimed a 3-2 win at Winthrop thanks to two runs scored by Jordan Bizzell and a home run by Taylor Williams.
- Nickie Blue struck out nine in the complete-game win.
Gamecocks Off the Diamond
- The 2015 Gamecocks posted the team’s best GPA at 3.442.
- Thirteen Gamecocks garnered NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2014-15, the most under in the past five seasons.
- Victoria Williams became the 16th Gamecock selection to CoSIDA’s Academic All-District team with her pick last year.
- Off the 2015 roster with 22 students, 19 Gamecocks earned SEC Academic Honor Roll nods last year.
- Sophomore Jordyn Augustus is one of 15 South Carolina students on the Columbia campus selected to participate in the Carolina Leadership Initiative for this academic year.
- Many Gamecocks have been on mission trips during their summers, including Augustus, Caroline Cash, Effie Manahan and Macey Webb.
- The softball team has won the department’s Community Outreach Team of the Year twice under Bev Smith in 2011 and 2013.
- Gamecock signees Mackenzie Boesel, Cayla Drotar and Alexis Lindsey, during their official visit this fall, joined the team and community helping Columbia recover from the historic floods that devastated the Midlands in early October.
Awards Poured in for 2015 Gamecocks
- Alaynie Page became South Carolina’s first NFCA All-American in 16 years when she earned a first-team nod.
- She also garnered first-team All-SEC honors, while Tiara Duffy gained a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team in the utility spot.
- Page ranked as the only Gamecock on the NFCA All-Southeast Region team.
- Macey Webb gained a spot on the 2016 SEC Softball Community Service Team.
- Nickie Blue claimed the SEC Pitcher of the Week honor on March 16, 2015.
This Is How Tough 2015 Was (Especially in the SEC)
- The Gamecocks played 30 games against teams who made the 2015 NCAA Tournament, with SC going 13-17 in those games.
- The Gamecocks went 22-19 against teams with RPI marks in the top 100, including five wins over top-25 squads (Cal at 20, two vs. Tennessee at 9, two at Kentucky at 25).
- A total of 41 of the Gamecocks’ scheduled games came against teams that finished in the top 100 of the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index last year. Of those, 26 were against RPI top-50 teams.
- This year, South Carolina faced regular-season champs from the SEC (Florida), ACC (Florida State), American (UCF), Conference USA (Western Kentucky), Atlantic Sun (USC Upstate) and Big South (Longwood) as well as the tourney champs of the Sun Belt (South Alabama).