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April 12, 2016

Wednesday’s Game Information

Date: April 13, 2016

First Pitch: 6 p.m.

Location: Spartanburg, S.C.

Stadium: Cyrill Stadium

Live Video: ESPN3 on Watch ESPN


Feature Stories

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 Faces USC Upstate in Spartanburg on Wednesday

  • The Gamecocks travel to Spartanburg for Wednesday’s contest against USC Upstate at 6 p.m.
  • The meeting between the Palmetto State rivals will be shown on ESPN3 on Watch ESPN, while live stats will also be available.

South Carolina’s Offense Producing Early

  • South Carolina’s offense has been clicking early, and it starts with leadoff batters reaching base at a .478 clip, which ranks third in the SEC.
  • Only on five occasions have the Gamecocks not gotten the leadoff runner on more than once, in wins over Western Carolina and UNCW 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 38 first-inning runs, the third-most in a frame the Gamecocks have tallied (behind the 53 in the fourth and the 42 in the third).
  • When the Gamecocks score first, they are 20-2. More win-loss breakdowns are on pages 5 and 11.
  • The Gamecocks lead the SEC with 57 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 31 times in 40 games, the lowest total in the league.
  • South Carolina also has tallied 69 RBI in 108 chances with a runner on third and less than two outs.
  • That .639 conversion rate is fourth in the league, behind Auburn (.675), Kentucky (.659) and Tennessee (.645).
  • Leading that charge is the trio of Alaynie Page (9-for-10), Krystan White (14-for-17) and Kennedy Clark (8-for-12).

Gamecocks Have Solid Pitching, Defense Too

  • South Carolina’s defense has been outstanding thus far, posting a .972 fielding percentage, which stands fifth in the SEC.
  • If the year ended today, that percentage would be either the third or fourth-best in Gamecock history.
  • Freshman Kenzi Maguire has helped the defense in her 29 starts at shortstop.
  • She has 68 assists, which ranks 11th in the SEC.
  • In the circle, South Carolina has a team ERA of 2.88, 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 (0.38) 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.

Gamecocks Have Memorable Weekend in Series Win at Arkansas

  • Both of South Carolina’s wins at Arkansas came with notes galore.
  • Friday night’s 14-0 win in five innings marked the largest margin of victory for the Gamecocks in SEC play and the most runs scored in an SEC game by South Carolina.
  • The Gamecocks tallied 19 hits, also a high mark in SEC play.
  • Eleven different Gamecocks had hits, including all nine of the starters.
  • On Saturday, the Gamecocks rebounded from a 5-1 deficit to take a 7-5 win, scoring five runs in the seventh to complete the comeback.
  • That’s the first win for SC when entering the seventh trailing since March 30, 2014, when the Gamecocks came back to down Mississippi on Sunday 7-6 with a pair of bases-loaded walks.
  • Sophomore Krystan White drove in the game-winning run with her first career triple in that fateful seventh.
  • The Gamecocks won their fifth-consecutive series against the Razorbacks, including their third straight at Bogle Park.
  • The series win also stretches a streak of gaining at least one road SEC series win to four years.

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.

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 10).
  • 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.
  • She added a one-hitter in a complete-game shutout of Troy on Sat., April 2, holding the nation’s 17th-ranked scoring offense entering the weekend scoreless in six innings.
  • Blue became the third pitcher to throw a shutout against Arkansas, holding the Razorbacks to three hits in the 14-0 (5) win on Friday night.

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.
  • The freshman has driven home eight runners from third with less than two outs in 12 tries while also advancing runners at a .632 clip (55-for-87), second best among the starters.
  • 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 15-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 32 appearances.
  • Alexis Mack, a freshman who set Ohio high school’s all-time stolen base record, is second on the team in stolen bases (12), runs scored (30) and batting average (.391).
  • Mack has moved up runners at a .635 clip, tops on the team, hitting mainly in the No. 2 spot in her 29 starts.
  • Freshman Kenzi Maguire has started 29 games at shortstop and is second on the team with 11 HBPs, standing fifth 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 6-for-20 at the plate and has started behind the plate in seven Gamecock wins.

Snaer Ties Single-Season Doubles Record

  • Junior first baseman Kaylea Snaer tied South Carolina’s single-season doubles record by hitting her 20th and 21st at Arkansas on Sunday in game 40 of the season.
  • The SEC leader, Snaer is now two shy of tying the league’s doubles record of 23, held by Georgia’s Megan Wiggins (2011) and Tennessee’s Kelli Fitzgerald (1998).
  • Five times, Snaer has posted two doubles in a game, including Sunday’s game at Arkansas.
  • Snaer is on a tear, posting multiple hits in each of the last nine games, boosting her batting average to a team-best .408.
  • 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 now ranks first in SC history in doubles per game and walks per game and is in the top five in a number of other categories (see full updates on page 10).

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 28 starts and played at all four spots in the infield.
  • She’s hit .383 with runners on base, .391 with runners in scoring position and has driven in 14 runners from third with less than two outs in 17 tries.
  • She tied her career high with a 3-for-4 Saturday against Troy while adding three RBI in the series finale.
  • Her first career triple capped the seventh-inning comeback in the Saturday win at Arkansas.

Some Win-Loss Breakdowns

  • The Gamecocks bring home 71 percent (66-of-93) of runners from third with less than two outs in wins and just 20 percent (3-of-15) in the 10 losses.
  • With runners in scoring position, the Gamecocks hit .364 (122-of-335) in wins and .171 (14-of-82) in setbacks.
  • That trend carries over to bases loaded situations: .400 (20-of-50) versus .053 (1-of-19).
  • 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 8-7.
  • When the Gamecocks draw zero or one walk, they are 5-6.
  • SC’s pitchers do better with runners on in wins (.175, 57-of-326) than in losses (.342, 51-of-149).
  • The other thing Gamecock pitching does better in wins is end innings, with foes batting .196 (46-of-235) in triumphs and .357 (30-of-84) in losses with two down.
  • South Carolina is 17-2 when its foes don’t record an extra-base hit, seven coming in shutouts.
  • Other win-loss breakdowns can be found in the chart on page 11.

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.

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).

Scouting USC Upstate

  • The Spartans are 32-11 on the season, fresh off a weekend sweep of Jacksonville.
  • USC Upstate is using its speed this season, ranking 13th in NCAA Division I with 2.28 stolen bases a game.
  • Kendsey Chappelear leads four Spartans that have double-digit steals, swiping 28 bags.
  • Ansley Gilstrap has 20, while Ryan Rector and Brittany Case have 11 and 10, respectively.
  • But the Spartans can also hurt with their power, posting the 18th-most home runs per game and standing 20th in slugging percentage in the counry.
  • Rector has 15 home runs and 44 RBI, both team bests.
  • Amy Szymanowski and Karla Beasley have 11 and nine round-trippers, respectively.
  • Szymanowski has been hit by 12 pitches, just edging out Megan Obier’s 11 for the team high.
  • Obier has eight stolen bases and a team-high six sacrifice bunts.
  • Gilstrap has laid down five sacrifice bunts, while Case and Abbie Millete have four each.
  • Both Case and Millete have 12 doubles as well.
  • In the circle, Holly McKinnon has carried the load, tossing 157.1 innings with a 2.67 ERA.
  • McKinnon has fanned 150 and walked 40, but she has given up 22 home runs along with the .228 opponent batting average.
  • Amanda Storch has a 45:12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in her 60 innings to go with a 2.92 ERA, while Lexi Shubert has struck out more than a batter an inning in 52 but posted a 4.31 ERA.

USC Upstate and South Carolina Against Common Foes

  • There are five common opponents between the Gamecocks and Spartans, with SC going 5-0 against the group and USC Upstate going 2-4 against the slate.
  • Upstate fell on the road to USF (6-8) and North Carolina (2-4) and at home against Virginia Tech (0-6), teams the Gamecocks beat in the first week of the year: USF and Virginia Tech in Tampa and UNC at home in Columbia.
  • Both teams downed SIUE at home, while the Spartans split a doubleheader at Western Carolina, (L 12-11 in 9, W 3-0), a team the Gamecocks downed 1-0 at home.

Ties Between South Carolina and USC Upstate

  • Upstate freshmen Ansley Gilstrap and Kori Wancheck along with junior Ryan Rector and sophomore Amanda Storch played with the same Carolina Elite group that trained Gamecock seniors Alaynie Page and Jordan Bizzell, junior Macey Webb and sophomore Krystan White.
  • Rector also teamed with Gamecock junior Victoria Williams at Palmetto High School.
  • Both Upstate’s Holly McKinnon and South Carolina’s Kenzi Maguire played with Team North Florida on the travel-ball circuit.

SC History vs. Spartans

  • The teams have split the previous six meetings, including halving the two contests in Spartanburg.

The Last Meeting – USC Upstate at South Carolina – April 7, 2015

  • Nickie Blue tossed her first career solo one-hitter in the 3-0 win over USC Upstate at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field in a game televised by the SEC Network.
  • Kaylea Snaer had an RBI single, and Kristen Struett added insurance with her run-scoring hit in the sixth while going 2-for-4.
  • Alaynie Page scored the final run on a wild pitch after Struett’s hit.

2016 Accolades and Accomplishments for Alaynie Page

  • Senior Alaynie Page has already moved up on many career lists, found on page 10 of the notes.
  • Notably, she’s two homers from matching the career record set by McKenna Hughes (2004-07).
  • Page was selected as one of 30 candidates for the Senior CLASS Award, which stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®.
  • 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.
  • Page drove in four, including her seventh homer of the year, in the UNCW 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, 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.

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.

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).

Roster Notes

  • 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 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.

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.