Feb. 29, 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 Western Carolina in Single Game Tuesday at 6 PM
- South Carolina begins a 15-game home stand with a single game on Tuesday against Western Carolina.
- Originally scheduled for a doubleheader, both coaches agreed to make it a single game that starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
- SEC Network + will broadcast the game on WatchESPN.com.
2016 Accolades and Accomplishments for Alaynie Page
- Senior Alaynie Page has already moved up in many career lists, found on page 8 of the notes.
- Notably, she’s seven homers from matching the career record set by McKenna Hughes (2004-07).
- Page is one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in SchoolÂ®
- The returning first-team All-American also ranked as 50 players placed on the USA Softball National Player of the Year watch list.
- She reached base at a .550 clip in the first five home games, stealing four bases, posting six RBI and hitting her second homer of the season.
- Page has a 12-game hitting streak and has reached base in all but one game (vs. Virginia Tech, 2/13).
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.
- She also tossed her first shutout of the year with a complete-game blanking of Longwood on Feb. 21.
Newcomers Contributing Early for South Carolina
- The five newcomers to the 2016 Gamecocks have all made an impact in the first 10 games of the year.
- Junior Jessica Elliott has gone 9-0 with a 0.92 ERA in 12 appearances, striking out 32 while walking 19 in 45.2 innings of work.
- Freshman outfielder Kennedy Clark has started every game, one of three Gamecocks to do that, and leads the team in on-base (.544) and slugging (.732) percentages to go with her team best of four home runs.
- Clark tied the program record with two round-trippers in the Ohio win.
- Freshman Kenzi Maguire has started 11 games at shortstop and is tied for the team lead with five hit-by-pitches.
- Alexis Mack, a freshman who set Ohio high school’s all-time stolen base record, is tied for second on the team in both runs scored (10) and stolen bases (3).
- Finally, Lex Hull is 3-for-10 at the plate and has started behind the plate in four Gamecock wins.
South Carolina Team Notes
- The Gamecocks started the season 9-1, the best start since the team went 12-1 to being 2009.
- 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).
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 reached base 61.5 percent of the time she’s led off an inning.
- Only on three occasions did 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.
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.
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.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
- South Carolina has played 2,139 games in its softball history, going 1391-741-7 (.651) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
Scouting Western Carolina
- The Catamounts are 11-4 on the year, going 3-2 last weekend in an event at Western Kentucky.
- Seven starters are back from last year’s 22-31 team.
- Senior Taylor Sigmon has taken over the team in the circle, posting a 1.89 ERA in 37 innings of work. She’s struck out 50 and walking 15.
- Lily Hayes (2.90 ERA in 31.1 innings) and Courtney Buchanan (3.41 ERA in 24.2 innings) have contributed as well.
- Sigmon also adds speed to Western Carolina’s lineup, as she’s tied with Courtney Price with a team-best four stolen bases.
- The Catamounts have 13 home runs, topped by Crystal Cyr’s four. She’s added 16 RBI.
- Both Karley Harkey and Hunter Gibbons have three home runs.
- Sigmon and Courtney Price led WCU with seven home runs last year.
- Price has gotten on base at a .444 clip, just leading Kara Salvo’s .439.
SC Series History vs. the Catamounts
- South Carolina leads the series 5-0, with all five games coming in Columbia.
The Last Meeting – Western Carolina at South Carolina – Feb. 26, 2015
- Julie Sarratt flirted with a perfect game but settled for a combined two-hitter as the Gamecocks beat Western Carolina 3-1.
- Kristen Struett hit a home run in the first to take the lead, and she scored on Sarah Mooney’s RBI single in the third.
- Lauren Masters reached base three times, going 2-for-2 with a walk.
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, 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).