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Feb. 21, 2017

Weekend’s Information

Dates: Feb. 24-26, 2017

First Pitch: 3 p.m. Fri., 1:30 and 4 p.m. Sat., 12:30 p.m. Sun.

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field

Live Video: SEC Network + on Watch ESPN

Live Stats:

Feature Stories

Gamecock Softball: A Day in the Life
Superwomen to Be Honored by Gamecock Softball
Taylor Williams Driven by Family’s Sacrifices to Succeed
Victoria Williams Finds Her True Colors
SEC Corporate Career Tour Offers Unique Opportunity for Student-Athletes
Strength of SEC Softball is a Point of Pride for Gamecocks
Law School the Next Step in Webb’s Dedication to Help Others
Softball Alumni and Military Veterans Raise Awareness for Wounded Heroes
Gamecock Alums Rally Around Teammate After Louisiana Floods
Study Abroad Provides Unique Opportunities for Gamecock Softball Duo
Kaylea Snaer2016 NCAA Division I Doubles Leader
Gamecock Freshmen Build Connection before Columbia
Unique Recruiting Trip Impacts Future Gamecocks
Accountability Program for Gamecock Softball
Augustus Honing Leadership Skills

20-Year Anniversary of the First SEC Champs


South Carolina Brings in Another Tough Field for Gamecock Invitational

The 2017 Gamecock Invitational is this weekend at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field, with six games coming in the three-day event.
The Gamecocks take on defending Summit League champs North Dakota State as well as in-state rival College of Charleston twice each on the weekend, starting with the Bison on Fri. at 3 p.m. Saturday sees the Gamecocks and NDSU Bison meet again at 1:30 p.m. before SC and the College square off at 4 p.m.
Sunday’s finale between the Gamecocks and Cougars is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. All four of the Gamecocks’ outings will be on SEC Network + on Watch ESPN.

Wednesday Was Homecoming for Half of Gamecock Coaching Staff

Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith and Lisa Navas, the associate head coach for the Garnet and Black, return to North Carolina to take on their former team and boss on Wed.
Smith played for UNC coach Donna Papa before working alongside her mentor for over a decade at her alma mater, while Navas worked with both Papa and Smith for two seasons at Chapel Hill (2001-02).

White Leading the Offense in Early Part of 2017

Krystan White enters the third weekend of play with a .429 batting average and 13 RBI, both best on the team.
Much like in her 2016 season, the junior from Chesterfield, S.C., opened up eyes with her bat in her first chance to start.
She had a perfect opening day, going 2-for-2 against both Ohio and Presbyterian.
Three of the four hits went for extra bases: the homer joined with a double against the Bobcats and another double against the Blue Hose.
She also showed her versatility, starting at both second and third while making stellar plays at both.
She added a team-best five RBI during the Texas Invitational, starting all four games.
One of two shortstops in 2015, she drew 46 starts and played all four spots in the infield in 2016.
Also in 2016, she led the team both in opportunies (21) and RBI (15) with runners on third and less than two outs.

Snaer Back to Threaten More Records

First baseman Kaylea Snaer ended 2016 with 27 doubles, leading the nation and tying for fourth in a single season in NCAA Division I history with five others.
The senior produced a strong weekend in Texas, hitting a team-best .417 in the four games while blasting her first two home runs of the year along with a double.
Snaer earned a spot on the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 team, the 17th Gamecock to garner selection.
However, Snaer’s biggest hit came in the seventh inning of the Gamecocks’ SEC Tournament win.
With two outs, two on and on an 0-2 count, Snaer hit her sixth homer of the year to tie the game against No. 17/15 Missouri, a game SC won an inning later on Taylor Williams’ pinch-hit homer.
Snaer also hit the game-winning home run in the eighth against No. 12/12 Georgia on Monday, March 21, clinching the series win.
She enters her senior year ranking first in SC history in doubles per game and walks per game and second in RBI per game.

Blue Starting to Climb Gamecock Pitching Charts

Senior Nickie Blue moved up on many career pitching charts in 2016, including into eighth on the innings pitched and wins charts and seventh on the strikeouts listing.
She’s already moved up in innings pitched, wins, shutouts and strikeouts. All those advances up the charts can be found on page 10 of the PDF version of the notes.
Of note, Blue’s next save ties her for the school record.
Blue became the fourth Gamecock pitcher in history with back-to-back 200-inning years, joining Angie Lear (1990-91), Darlene Gareis (3 years, 1992-94) and Megan Matthews (4 years, 1999-2002) on that list.
In 2015, 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).
After her drop ball produced ground outs at a 65 percent rate (506-269) in her first two years on campus, Blue used a rise more often in 2016 but still tallied a 57 percent (271-203) ground-out rate.

The Schedule Has Never Been Tougher

The 2017 schedule is the toughest compiled to date by head coach Beverly Smith.
The Gamecocks are set to play 33 of their 55 regular-season games against teams who made the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina is scheduled to play at least one NCAA Tournament team each weekend except for one: the SEC trip to Mississippi State, who ended 2016 with a 39 RPI and was ineligible for postseason play (26-31 record).
On the docket are 15 games against Women’s College World Series teams and another three against last year’s top seed in the NCAA Tournament (and defending SEC champs), Florida, who lost in super regional play to Georgia.
A total of 46 of the Gamecocks’ scheduled games come against teams that finished in the top 100 of the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index last year. Of those, 42 are against the top 76 teams and 33 are versus the top 50.
The Gamecocks play four defending regular-season conference champs: Florida (SEC), Florida State (ACC), Longwood (Big South) and North Dakota State (Summit) as well as the Atlantic Sun (USC Upstate) and SEC (Auburn) Tournament champs from 2016.
Of the preseason top 25 in both major polls, the Gamecocks are slated to take on nine of them, including four of the top five and eight of the top 10 (seven in the NFCA poll).
Seven of those nine are in SEC play, accounting for 21 games.
South Carolina, who had 13 points in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason poll, also has five games against teams receiving votes in between the two polls.

Gamecock Newcomers, Signees Have Loads of Accolades, Accomplishments

Many Gamecocks have won awards at South Carolina, but the high school accolades continue to raise the specter of Bev Smith’s recruiting classes.
This year’s freshman class has two high school All-Americans on it: Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar.
The team also added its third NJCAA All-American under Bev Smith, signing Shannon Plese out of Chattanooga State.
Plese follows in the footsteps of former Tigers Melissa Hendon and Kaela Jackson (herself a former NJCAA All-American) and joins 2015 NJCAA Pitcher of the Year Jessica Elliott on the roster.
Drotar also claimed the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year award the past three seasons, and next year, two-time New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year Kelsey Oh will join them.
All the awards for the Gamecocks and the national notations for the 2018 signing class are on page four of the notes.
Meanwhile, Gamecock signee Alex Fulmer has racked up notoriety on the baseball diamond, playing for the last two years with the USA Baseball Women’s National Team.
She played on teams that won the 2015 Pan American Games gold medal as well as the consolation bracket of the 2016 World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup.
Fulmer and Oh were joined by Jana Johns, Victoria Galvan and Alyssa Kumiyama in the 2018 signing class.

Gamecocks Post Stellar Opening Weekend in Carolina Classic

South Carolina showed excellence in every aspect of the 2017 Carolina Classic, going 5-0 in the event.
The five wins pushed head coach Beverly Smith to 200 career victories, a new milestone for the seventh-year boss of the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks won three of the five games in shortened contests, the most ever in an opening week of competition. and matching last year’s Carolina Classic output.
The defense looked outstanding, with several stellar plays coming from the infield, that sports former shortstops in three spots (Maguire, Watts and White as freshman at SC, Boesel in high school).
The team did not commit an error on the weekend, a five-game stretch. Only Toledo was able to match that in NCAA Division I through an opening five-game weekend this season.
Last season, the Gamecocks had one six-game stretch without an error (Feb. 20-26).
That helped the pitchers post a 0.23 ERA, which ranks sixth in NCAA Division I.
The group posted two one-hitters and a shutout streak of 27.2 innings, the longest since a 29-inning stretch in 2014 (Feb. 16-23).
Four straight shutouts began the year, the first time that has been accomplished by a Gamecock team. The 1983, 1984 and 1986 teams all tallied three.

South Carolina Softball Historical Record

South Carolina has played 2,190 games in its softball history, going 1421-762-7 (.650) in its 41st season of sponsorship.

Bigger Debut Weekend? Debatable Between Boesel, Drotar

Two Gamecock freshmen made their presences felt during their first weekend in the Garnet and Black.
A three-time South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, Cayla Drotar started twice in the circle and posted a 0.70 ERA in 10 innings, posting a stellar 10-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Her first career start came in game two against Presbyterian, and she proceeded to twirl a one-hitter.
That beginning harkens back to another in-state pitcher’s debut back in 2011, when Julie Sarratt no-hit Coastal Carolina in her first go in the circle.on Feb. 12, 2011.
Meanwhile, Boesel hit one of the team’s two triples in the first Presbyterian win and has four RBI, tied for second on the squad.
Her last RBI came in the clutch, as her ground ball drove in the deciding run in the 2-1 win over Charlotte.

Roster Notes

Leading the Gamecocks’ 14 returners is the senior pitching duo Nickie Blue and Jessica Elliott.
The duo combined for all 61 starts, 390.1 innings, 246 strikeouts, 37 wins and all eight saves.
Six position player starters return for the Gamecocks from last year’s squad.
South Carolina lost five students who combined to start 215 games, including a majority of starts at catcher, second base, left and center field.
The highest percentage lost in any offensive category is stolen bases at 75 percent, followed by triples at 66.7 and sacrifice hits at 50.
The Gamecocks return around 60 percent of its offense in most other categories, including 74.4 percent of their doubles to 71.7 percent of their home runs.
The top hitter from last year is back, senior Kaylea Snaer, as she led NCAA Division I in doubles and SC in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, RBI and sacrifice flies.
Six newcomers could play in 2017, three signees and three transfers.
Leading that contingent is former first-team All-Big Ten catcher Alyssa VanDerveer (Penn State), while high school All-Americans Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar both could be major contributors.
Also joining the team are a pair of award-winning outfielders: two-time 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Week Lauren Stewart (Purdue) and two-time NJCAA All-American Shannon Plese (Chattanooga State).
The sixth newcomer, freshman Alexis Lindsey, will likely miss the year to rehabilitate an injury.
The Gamecocks hail from 12 states this year, with the newcomers coming from California, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Nickie Blue and Hayley Copeland are the first Gamecock duo who are both over six-feet tall.
While both are Williams’ and seniors by class, Taylor and Victoria are not sisters.

Gamecocks Have a Rich NCAA Tournament History

South Carolina earned its 19th bid in the NCAA Tournament in 2016, the fourth straight under head coach Beverly Smith.
The Gamecocks are 37-41 in those trips, making three NCAA 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.
Last season’s regional was SC’s fourth trip to a regional in Tallahassee and the third-straight year the Gamecocks drove to Florida’s capital city.

Scouting North Carolina

Picked fourth in the preseason ACC coaches poll, North Carolina returns five starters and its top two pitchers from last year’s 32-25 team that played in the Harrisburg Regional of the NCAA Tournament.
That includes last year’s pitching workhorse Kendra Lynch, who posted over 300 innings in the circle with a 3.88 ERA and 170 K’s to 97 walks and 22 HBPs.
Lynch has shared the workload this spring with fellow returner Sydney Matzko and newcomer Brittany Pickett.
The southpaw Pickett has been most impressive, posting 21 K’s to three walks in 19.2 innings, going 3-0 in six appearances. That includes two complete games and a shutout.
At the plate, the top hitter from a year ago graduated, Kristen Brown, taking with her 19 home runs, 58 RBI and her presence at shortstop.
The next five hitters come back, and thus far, Leah Murray has led them with two doubles, a triple and six stolen bases.
Other speedsters returning include Destiny DeBerry (33 SB in `16, 6 in `17) and Taylor Wike (12 in `16, 2 in `17).
Lynch, who blasted 12 homers last season, already leads the team with four this year.
Katie Bailiff, who started 43 games but only tallied 74 at-bats, has been hot early, posting two homers and 11 RBI through eight games.

Ties Between South Carolina and North Carolina

Both UNC’s Hailey Jansen and SC’s Lauren Stewart spent time with the Georgia Impact travel-ball program.
Tar Heels Brooke Burns and Brittany Pickett played for Carolina Elite, the same group that helped produced three current Gamecocks (Cayla Drotar, Macey Webb and Krystan White).
Drotar also had the chance to play with UNC’s Katie Bailiff as a part of the NC Lightning teams.

SC Series History vs. the Tar Heels

The long-time regional rivals have met 63 previous times, with the Gamecocks prevailing in the Battle of the Carolinas 50 times, including the last two.
In Chapel Hill, that record tightens to 16-9, with the Heels claiming the last two meetings there.

Scouting North Dakota State

The Bison bring back four starters and two pitchers from last year’s 39-15 team that won the Summit League crown and played in the NCAA Tournament’s Seattle Regional.
The 3-7 record is deceiving, as NDSU has four one-run losses on its year already, including one to No. 10 Arizona. The Bison did down Mississippi 1-0 in California in the year’s opening weekend.
The ace of that staff returns in Jacquelyn Sertic, a junior who posted a 2.26 ERA in 210.2 innings in 2016. She struck out 216 and walked 71 last year.
Thus far, Sertic has a 1.49 ERA, appearing in all 10 Bison games, striking out 62 against 13 walks in 51.2 innings of work.
Her No. 2, sophomore KK Leddy, also is back, posting a 2.68 ERA in four games this spring.
At the plate, NDSU is seeking a replacement for Logan Moreland’s 13 homers, 49 RBI and 32 stolen bases.
Thus far, Zoe Stavrou has led the way, posting two doubles, three homers and six RBI already.
Redshirt freshman Lauren Reimers has been the top on-base threat, reaching at a .407 clip.
Another freshman, Montana DeCamp, has two home runs.
Last year, NDSU stole 106 bases in 121 attempts, a mark this team doesn’t seem it will approach with only three thefts in six tries.

Ties Between South Carolina and North Dakota State

Bison sophomroe Zoe Stavrou hails from the same SoCal A’s group that produced four Gamecocks: Kaylea Snaer, Hayley Copeland, Kennedy Clark and Mackenzie Boesel.

The Last Meeting – NDSU vs. South Carolina – March 3, 2006

In the only previous meeting between the programs, South Carolina won a 7-1 contest in the 2006 Tar Heel Invitational.
Gamecock pitchers Melanie Henkes and Kate Pouliot combined to allow only three hits, while Becky Martinez, Jacqueline Wetherbee and Whitney Wierzbicki all posted two hits.

Scouting College of Charleston

The Cougars return six offensive starters and two pitchers from last year’s 35-23 team that finished third in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Charleston brings back its top-two speed threats, Taylor DuPree and Kelly Sinclair, who combined to steal 37 bases a year ago.
DuPree led the Cougars in hitting last year (.378) and has five stolen bases already.
The offense has clicked well with those strong returners and new additions Taylor Belfiore, Yari Felix and Lexee Emanuel, posting a .357 batting average through eight games.
Belfiore and Emanuel have the two Cougar home runs, a category returner Jordin Jones (7) led the team in 2016.
Jones does have three doubles and a .517 batting average, while Belfiore has two doubles and a team-best eight RBI to lead the way.
The Cougars have 16 stolen bases already with only one caught stealing.
In the circle, returners Brittany Violette and Sydney Shipley have gotten help from freshman Izzy Berouty.
Berouty and Violette have tossed 32.1 innings combined and posted strikeout-to-walk ratios of 7.5:1. Neither has allowed an extra-base hit.

Ties Between South Carolina and College of Charleston

Cougars Izzy Berouty, Yari Felix and Brittany Violette hail from the same SoCal A’s group that produced four Gamecocks: Kaylea Snaer, Hayley Copeland, Kennedy Clark and Mackenzie Boesel.
The College’s Madi Brown and Dexlie Inman played for Carolina Elite, the same group that helped produced three current Gamecocks: Cayla Drotar, Macey Webb and Krystan White.
Both C of C senior Dana Horgan and Gamecock junior Shannon Plese graduated from Chattanooga State before coming to their Palmetto State schools.

SC Series History vs. the Cougars

The Gamecocks are 10-1 in the all-time series, including an 8-0 mark in games in Columbia.

South Carolina Staff Has Top Credentials

Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith has been a part of 12 NCAA Tournament teams as a coach (eight at UNC, four at South Carolina).
Associate head coach Lisa Navas has been to six NCAA Tournaments as an assistant coach (four 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.
Navas has been selected to be a part of the 2017-19 USA Softball Women’s National Team coaching pool alongside 21 other coaches.
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 Matt Stewart worked the past three years at Florida, serving as a manager for both of the Gators’ national title wins.

Offensive Records Falling Regularly for Gamecocks under Smith

In head coach Beverly Smith’s first six years, the Gamecocks broke team offensive records 25 times (tracked on page 14 in these notes).
The 2016 team broke the HBP (85) mark and finished second in on-base percentage (.387), tied for second in doubles (82), third in walks per game (2.80), third in sacrifice flies (20) and fourth in walks (171).
Smith’s teams set the home run and slugging percentage records in four-straight seasons (2012-15) and the on-base percentage mark in three straight (2013-15).
While not a record, the Gamecocks have hit .291 over the past six seasons, 75 points higher than the year before Smith came to Columbia.

Gamecock Pitching Making Strides

Beverly Smith’s pupils in the circle improved greatly in her first six seasons.
The 2016 team posted a 2.82 ERA, the best mark for a Gamecock team since 2008.
The staff backed this by lowering its home runs allowed to 23, 20 less than the 2015 team’s total.
Gamecock pitching improved its strikeout-to-walk ratio in each year from 2013-15.
Nickie Blue, who led the nation in saves as a freshman, became the fourth Gamecock to post consecutive 200-inning seasons in 2015-16.
In 2015, she posted over 200 innings in the circle and an ERA under 2.00, one of two in the SEC to post such numbers (All-American Lauren Haeger of Florida the other).

Fielding Has Jumped Leaps and Bounds, Too

Beverly Smith’s teams have improved their fielding percentage in each of the last four years as well, coinciding with the team’s winning ascent.
The 2016 Gamecocks finished third in program history with a .972 fielding percentage, which ranked third in the SEC and 20th in NCAA Division I.
In the SEC era, 10 of the best fielding percentages in a single season in the position categories have been recorded by Smith’s players.

Gamecocks Off the Diamond

The Gamecocks post their third-highest team GPA in the past 10 years last spring (3.456).
Fourteen Gamecocks garnered NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2015-16, the most under Beverly Smith.
Kaylea Snaer became the 17th Gamecock selected to CoSIDA’s Academic All-District team in 2016, a year after Victoria Williams made the squad.
Off the 2016 roster of 20 students, 17 Gamecocks earned SEC Academic Honor Roll nods.
Senior Macey Webb has been accepted to law school and wants to help women in need.
Junior Jordyn Augustus went through the University’s Carolina Leadership Initiative in 2015-16.
Snaer participated in the first SEC Corporate Career Tour this Dec. in Atlanta.
Gamecock freshmen Mackenzie Boesel, Cayla Drotar and Alexis Lindsey, during their official visit in the fall of 2015, joined the team and community helping Columbia recover from the historic floods that devastated the Midlands in October of 2015.
The softball team has won the department’s Community Outreach Team of the Year twice under Bev Smith in 2011 and 2013.
Former Gamecocks have played a big part in helping out the Louisville Slugger Warriors team made up of former military veterans.