March 29, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. –
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 Travel to Face Charlotte on Wed. Afternoon
- South Carolina steps out of Southeastern Conference action to face Charlotte on Wednesday afternoon at the D.L. Phillips Complex on the 49ers’ campus.
- Gametracker live stats and a live audio stream via Gamecocks All-Access will be available at GamecocksOnline.com for the 5 p.m. showdown.
South Carolina’s Offense Producing Early
- South Carolina’s offense has been clicking early, and it starts with leadoff batters reaching base at a .459 clip.
- Only on four occasions have the Gamecocks not gotten the leadoff runner on more than once, in the Western Carolina win and in series-opening losses to No. 17/15 Kentucky, No. 12/12 Georgia and No. 3/3 Auburn.
- The Gamecocks lead the SEC with 48 HBPs this year, the third most in a single season at SC.
- Twelve came in two games, as six Gamecocks were hit against UNC Greensboro (2/19) and Michigan State (3/5).
- The Gamecocks have struck out looking 24 times in 33 games, the lowest total in the league.
- South Carolina also has tallied 55 RBI in 90 chances with a runner on third and less than two outs.
- That .611 conversion rate is fifth in the league, behind Auburn (.664), Kentucky (.659), Tennessee (.640) and Alabama (.624).
- Leading that charge is the quartet of Alaynie Page (7-for-7), Krystan White (9-for-12), Kennedy Clark (8-for-11) and Ansley Ard (5-for-8).
South Carolina Team Notes
- Gamecock pitching has allowed the third-lowest home runs per game (0.36) in the SEC.
- South Carolina has scored two runs or less nine times, going 3-6 in those, with all six losses coming against ranked SEC foes (3 vs. No. 17/15 Kentucky, 1 vs. No. 12/12 Georgia, 2 at No. 3/3 Auburn).
- The three runs scored by the Gamecocks in the Kentucky series all were unearned.
- The Gamecocks posted a 10-game winning streak from Feb. 26-March 8, the second time under Beverly Smith and the fourth since the start of 1998 (others in 2002, 2009 & 2014).
- South Carolina pitchers Nickie Blue and Jessica Elliott combined for the first no-hitter in six years for the Gamecocks on Tues., March 1, blanking Western Carolina in a 1-0 victory.
- South Carolina’s defense has been outstanding thus far, posting a .975 fielding percentage, which stands fourth in the SEC.
- 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.
- Two of South Carolina’s signees for next season, Cayla Drotar and Mackenzie Boesel, made the USA Today High School/American Family Insurance All-USA Preseason Softball Team.
- The Gamecocks started the season 9-1, the best start since the team went 12-1 to begin 2009.
Ard Advancing on All Fronts
- Senior outfielder Ansley Ard has become the Gameocks’ clutch hitter this season.
- Four times, she’s produced the game-winning hit: vs. Coastal Carolina, Western Carolina, the first game against Buffalo and in the second Georgia game.
- Her grand slam against the Bulls propeled the Gamecocks to the 7-4 win, while she tied game two with an RBI bunt single.
- She hit a walk-off home run against the Bulldogs on Sunday night on the SEC Network, two innings after starting the rally that tied the game with a hit.
- Those moments helped Ard capture the SEC Player of the Week as well as the College Sports Madness Field Player of the Week on March 21-22.
- For Ard, however, something bigger was when she learned she had made it into physical therapy school on the same day that she won the game vs. Coastal Carolina.
- She’s also quite proud of her one-inning appearance in the circle vs. Southern Utah on Feb. 26, picking up the win without allowing a run in her firsr pitching chance since high school.
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.
- Last season, Blue posted over 200 innings in the circle and an ERA under 2.00, one of two in the SEC to post such numbers (Lauren Haeger of Florida the other).
- She posted her first shutout of the year with a complete-game blanking of Longwood on Feb. 21.
- Blue tossed the first five innings of the no-hitter against Western Carolina on March 1, the first no-no for the Gamecocks since the second game of 2011.
Clark Leading Gamecock Newcomers at the Plate
- Freshman outfielder Kennedy Clark has started every game, one of three Gamecocks to do that, and leads the team in on-base percentage (.479) while ranking second with four home runs.
- Clark tied the program record with two round-trippers in the Ohio win.
- She’s come through in big situations, including tallying a team-best 10 RBI with two outs.
- The freshman has driven home eight runners from third with less than two outs in 11 tries.
- She’s also advanced runners at a .611 clip (44-for-65).
- Clark shared SEC Freshman of the Week honors for the week of March 6 with Kentucky’s Abbey Cheek after hitting .588 with seven RBI, both team highs, in a 5-0 week.
Other Newcomers Contributing Early for South Carolina
- The other four newcomers to the 2016 Gamecocks have all made their presence known.
- Junior Jessica Elliott has gone 12-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 25 appearances.
- Alexis Mack, a freshman who set Ohio high school’s all-time stolen base record, is second on the team in stolen bases (8) and runs scored (23).
- Mack has moved up runners at a .548 clip, hitting mainly in the No. 2 spot in her 24 starts.
- Freshman Kenzi Maguire has started 23 games at shortstop and ranks second the team with 10 HBPs, which is fourth in single-season history at South Carolina.
- Mack, Maguire and Clark, hitting 2-3-4 in the lineup, combined to go 15-for-23 in wins over UConn and Kennesaw State, scoring nine runs and driving in eight as a group.
- Finally, Lex Hull is 5-for-16 at the plate and has started behind the plate in seven Gamecock wins.
2016 Accolades and Accomplishments for Alaynie Page
- Senior Alaynie Page has already moved up on many career lists, found on page 8 of the notes.
- Notably, she’s three 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.
- Her two home runs against No. 12/12 Georgia on Sunday, the third time in her career to post two round-trippers in a game, helped the Gamecocks take the 5-4 win.
Snaer Starting 2016 Stronger
- Junior first baseman Kaylea Snaer leads the SEC with 14 doubles while hitting .347.
- The Rowland Heights, Calif., native is tied for 15th on the Gamecock single-season doubles charts.
- It’s a different start than last year, when Snaer went 9-for-53 (.170) with no extra base hits through 20 games.
- She still managed to finish tied for second on the team with seven homers and third with seven doubles while hitting .275.
- She hit the game-winning home run in the eighth against No. 12/12 Georgia on Monday night, clinching the series win.
- A year earlier, she ended a nine-inning contest with a single against No. 9/15 Tennessee, capturing the series for South Carolina.
- Snaer already ranks first in SC history in walks per game and in the top five in homers and RBI per game (see full updates on page 8).
White Hits Her Way into Lineup
- Sophomore Krystan White has hit her way into the lineup this spring, starting with a career-best day against Winthrop.
- The Chesterfield, S.C., product went 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBI against the Eagles.
- She’s now drawn 21 starts and played at all four spots in the infield.
- She’s hit .405 with runners on base, .382 with runners in scoring position and has driven in nine runners from third with less than two outs in 12 tries.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
- South Carolina has played 2,157 games in its softball history, going 1402-748-7 (.652) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
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.
- The Gamecocks also play four defending regular-season conference champs: Michigan (Big Ten), Longwood (Big South), SIUE (Ohio Valley) and USC Upstate (Atlantic Sun).
- Thirty-three games are set for Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
- Three former Gamecocks turned assistant coaches visited this spring: 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.
- SC lost four seniors who combined to start 143 games, including every start at catcher and 57 of 60 starts in centerfield.
- Every major offensive category leader from 2015 returns for the Gamecocks, 14 of those by Alaynie Page.
- 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.
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.
- Charlotte is 18-13 on the year and 2-6 in Conference USA action.
- The 49ers have gone 10-4 at home this season, losing the last four.
- Redshirt senior pitcher Lexi Betancourt is the top returner for Charlotte, posting a 2.02 ERA in 124.2 innings, striking 118 batters while walking 46.
- Betancourt’s has started 20 games and completed 18 of them.
- Four 49ers have a .300 batting average, with two posting an on-base percentage over .400.
- One thing Charlotte does is put down bunts, with the team compiling 35 sacrifice hits.
- Freshman Lizzy Birch leads the team with her .494 on-base percentage, thanks to 21 walks and five hit-by-pitches, and ranks third on the team with five stolen bases.
- Freshman Kiersten Berrier tops the team with 13 stolen bases and seven sacrifice hits.
- Sophomore Haley Pace tops the team with a .344 batting average, four home runs and 28 RBI.
- Sophomores Grace Beatty and Bailey Rhoney both have four doubles, with Beatty ranking second as well in RBI with 21.
Charlotte and South Carolina Against Common Foes
- Both teams have played Western Carolina and Kentucky this year.
- The 49ers downed Kentucky 5-3 at Winthrop, a week before the Gamecocks were swept at home.
- Charlotte lost both ends of a doubleheader to Western Carolina, 2-1 and 10-1 (5), last week, a team the Gamecocks downed 3-1 on March 1.
Ties Between South Carolina and Charlotte
- Charlotte sophomore Taylar Byrne and Gamecock freshman Kennedy Clark both graduated from Ayala High School in Chino Hills, Calif.
SC History vs. 49ers
- South Carolina leads the series 37-5, including a 13-2 advantage in games hosted by Charlotte.
The Last Meeting – Charlotte at South Carolina – March 3, 2015
- South Carolina won the game against Charlotte 9-3.
- Alaynie Page went 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and two runs scored.
- Taylor Williams posted two RBI in a 1-for-2 day, while Krystan White drove in three runs and scored twice in her 1-for-2 night, which included her first career home run.
Preseason Nuggets for the Gamecocks
- 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.
- Junior Nickie Blue made College Sports Madness’s All-SEC second team in the preseason.
- 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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.