April 1, 2016
Ard Excited to Make Impact On and Off the Field
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
South Carolina Hosts Troy in Pair of Games This Weekend
- Troy comes to Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field to face the Gamecocks on Saturday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) as both teams have off weekends in their conference schedule.
- Brad Muller and Megan Matthews Buning will be on the call for the SEC Network + on Watch ESPN, while Gametracker live stats will be available at GamecocksOnline.com for both contests.
South Carolina’s Offense Producing Early
- South Carolina’s offense has been clicking early, and it starts with leadoff batters reaching base at a .458 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 quick start also translates into 36 first-inning runs, the second-most in a frame the Gamecocks have tallied (behind the 41 in the fourth).
- When the Gamecocks score first, they are 16-2. More win-loss breakdowns are on page 10.
- The Gamecocks lead the SEC with 51 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 26 times in 34 games, the lowest total in the league.
- South Carolina also has tallied 58 RBI in 94 chances with a runner on third and less than two outs.
- That .617 conversion rate is fifth in the league, behind Auburn (.664), Kentucky (.652), Tennessee (.638) and Alabama (.624).
- Leading that charge is the trio of Alaynie Page (9-for-9), Krystan White (9-for-12) and Kennedy Clark (8-for-11).
Gamecocks Have Pitching, Defense Too
- South Carolina’s defense has been outstanding thus far, posting a .975 fielding percentage, which stands fourth in the SEC.
- If the year ended today, that percentage would be the second-best in Gamecock history, trailing only the 1989 team’s .978 mark.
- Freshman Kenzi Maguire has helped the defense in her 23 starts at shortstop.
- She is tied for 11th in the SEC in assists despite not starting 11 games or playing in nine total.
- In the circle, South Carolina has a team ERA of 2.62, which, if it stood, would be the first time since 2008 that a Gamecock team held an ERA under 3.00 since 2008.
- Gamecock pitching has allowed the third-lowest home runs per game (0.35) in the SEC.
South Carolina Team Notes
- 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.
- 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 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.
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 once again anchors the South Carolina staff with her heavy drop ball, which produced 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 (.484) while ranking second with four home runs.
- Clark tied the program record with two round-trippers in the Ohio win.
- The freshman has driven home eight runners from third with less than two outs in 11 tries while also advancing runners at a .603 clip (44-for-73).
- 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 Newcomer Contributions for South Carolina
- The other four newcomers to the 2016 Gamecocks have all made their presence known.
- Junior Jessica Elliott has gone 13-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 28 appearances.
- Alexis Mack, a freshman who set Ohio high school’s all-time stolen base record, is second on the team in stolen bases (9) and runs scored (25) while leading the way with a .375 batting average.
- Mack has moved up runners at a .558 clip, hitting mainly in the No. 2 spot in her 24 starts.
- Freshman Kenzi Maguire has started 23 games at shortstop and is tied for the team lead with 11 HBPs with her classmate Clark, both standing fourth in a single season 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 Sun., March 20, the third time in her career to post two round-trippers in a game, helped the Gamecocks take the 5-4 win.
- She provided all the offense in the Charleston Southern win, posting the first run with an RBI single while walking, moving to second on a sacrifice, taking third on a wild pitch before scoring the game-winner on a passed ball.
Snaer Starting 2016 Stronger
- Junior first baseman Kaylea Snaer is tied for 13th on the Gamecock single-season doubles charts and leads the SEC with 15 doubles while hitting .353.
- She started 2016 much better 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.
- This season, Snaer hit the game-winning home run in the eighth against No. 12/12 Georgia on Monday, March 21, 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 is in the top five in homers and RBI per game (see full updates on page 8).
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.
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, going 3-for-4 with a homer and five RBI against the Eagles.
- She’s now drawn 22 starts and played at all four spots in the infield.
- She’s hit .386 with runners on base, .371 with runners in scoring position and has driven in nine runners from third with less than two outs in 12 tries.
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).
Some Win-Loss Breakdowns
- The Gamecocks bring home 70 percent (56-of-80) of runners from third with less than two outs in wins and just 14.3 percent (2-of-14) in the nine losses.
- With runners in scoring position, the Gamecocks hit .346 (93-of-269) in wins and .143 (10-of-70) in setbacks.
- That trend carries over to bases loaded situations: .372 (16-of-43) versus .067 (1-of-15).
- The pitchers also do better with runners on in wins (.161, 43-of-267) than in losses (.346, 45-of-130).
- The other thing Gamecock pitching does better in wins is end innings, with foes batting .188 (36-of-191) in triumphs and .368 (28-of-76) in losses with two down.
- 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).
- South Carolina is 2-4 when not collecting an extra-base hit during a game.
- In games when the team has 10 or less total bases, the Gamecocks are 7-7.
- When the Gamecocks draw zero or one walk, they are 5-6.
- South Carolina is 15-2 when its foes don’t record an extra-base hit, six coming in shutouts.
- Other win-loss breakdowns can be found in the chart on page 10.
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.
- Troy enters the weekend with a 23-10 record, falling in three games last weekend at No. 5/4 Louisiana-Lafayette in Sun Belt play.
- The Trojans are led by an outstanding offense, started by senior Kate Benton and her speed.
- Benton has a .481 batting average and has stolen 29 bases in 32 tries.
- Troy brings power as well, topped by senior Hannah Day and her 14 home runs and 52 RBI.
- Day also has eight doubles, a .472 on-base percentage and seven stolen bases without being caught.
- Teams have respected senior Amanda Winters this year, walking her 25 times and hitting her seven more to give her a .458 on-base percentage.
- Winters still has seven homers and 35 RBI, both second on the team.
- Sophomore Erica Davis leads the team with five sacrifice hits and ranks second with her eight stolen bases. She’s fourth on the team with a .426 on-base percentage.
- Sophomore Carli Kayler has four sac bunts to go with six doubles, seven homers and 25 RBI.
- In the circle, senior Ashley Rainey takes the lead with 15 starts and 92 innings of work.
- She’s posted a 3.88 ERA, struck out 35 and walked 20, while foes hit .292 against her with 17 home runs.
- Both freshmen Claire Graves and Peyton Glover have 52+ innings and nearly 1:1 strikeout-to-walk ratios, though Glover’s given up 12 homers and a .306 batting average, compared to 3 and .261 for Graves.
Troy and South Carolina Against Common Foes
- Both teams have played Kennesaw State twice at home and won both.
- The Trojans swept the doubleheader on Tuesday in Troy, 6-2 and 8-2, while SC won the Gamecock Invitational bookends 7-0 and 10-1 (6) against the Owls.
SC Series History vs. the Trojans
- South Carolina leads the series 2-1, including picking up the win in the only previous meeting in Columbia in 2009, 5-1.
The Last Meeting – South Carolina vs. Troy – Feb. 21, 2010
- The Trojans captured the final game for both teams in the 2010 UCF Invitational, 5-4.
- South Carolina scored three times in the final frame but couldn’t push across the winning run.
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 15 in the PDF version of these notes) and are on pace to add to the total this year.
- 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
- Beverly Smith’s pupils in the circle have 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).
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 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.
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.
- 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.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
- South Carolina has played 2,158 games in its softball history, going 1403-748-7 (.652) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
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.
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.
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 2015 SEC Softball Community Service Team.
- Nickie Blue claimed the SEC Pitcher of the Week honor on March 16, 2015.
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.
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).