March 7, 2017
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 Snaer – 2016 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 Faces Virginia Tech in Wed. Home Non-Conference Tilt
South Carolina tunes up one final time before starting Southeastern Conference play this weekend by hosting Virginia Tech on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
The game will be shown on SEC Network + via WatchESPN, with Brad Muller and Megan Matthews Buning on the call.
Gamecock Pitching Posting Stellar Results
South Carolina’s pitching staff has a 1.63 ERA through 21 games, a mark that stood 22nd in NCAA Division I through March 5.
In February, South Carolina’s pitching tallied eight shutouts, tying 2014 for the most in the 2000s in the first month of the season.
Senior Jessica Elliott tossed the first solo no-hitter in seven years with her five-inning blanking of Winthrop in the first game of Feb. 28’s doubleheader.
Twice more, Gamecock starters have tallied one-hitters, with two more two-hitters in the books.
Both Elliott and senior Nickie Blue have three complete games, with Elliott finishing out one more complete-game shutout than Blue.
Freshman Cayla Drotar has two complete-game shutouts as well, including a one-hitter in her debut against Presbyterian.
White Leading the Offense in Early Part of 2017
Krystan White enters the fifth week of play with a .386 batting average and six doubles, both tops 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.
White is now second on the team with 18 RBI and has taken over at shortstop.
In 2016, she led the team both in opportunities (21) and RBI (15) with runners on third and less than two outs.
Blue Starting to Climb Gamecock Pitching Charts
Senior Nickie Blue claimed South Carolina’s saves record with a two-inning shutout showing on Fri., Feb. 24 against North Dakota State.
With the save against Long Beach State, Blue moved into the top 10 in NCAA Division I history in career saves, with her next pushing her into the top five (Updated list on page 7).
Blue’s also moved up South Carolina’s lists in innings pitched, wins, shutouts and strikeouts in 2017. All those advances up the charts can be found on page 10.
She’s producing ground outs at a 69-percent rate this season (83-38), the best percentage of her career, which stood at 62 percent entering the season (777-472).
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).
Two Freshmen Making Impact Early in 2017
Freshmen Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar have played pivotal roles in South Carolina’s success so far in 2017.
A three-time South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, Drotar is 3-1 with a 1.02 ERA in 34.1 innings of work.
In her first career start against Presbyterian, she twirled 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 has produced with a team-best four home runs and 21 RBI.
The March 6 SEC Freshman of the Week, Boesel posted a .550 batting average, two home runs and eight RBI in the prior seven games, including a three-run blast against No. 20/20 Arizona State.
She also drove in both Gamecock runs in the contest against No. 7/8 UCLA with her double.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
South Carolina has played 2,206 games in its softball history, going 1432-767-7 (.651) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
Cali Connection Shows Out in Homestead
Six of South Carolina’s players hail from California, including four everyday starters, and that quartet put on a show playing in front of family and friends in the Judi Garman Classic.
Freshman Mackenzie Boesel earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after ranking fifth in the tourney in batting average (.571), posting eight hits, six RBI and four walks.
Senior Kaylea Snaer doubled twice and hit .400 on the trip, moving within a two-bagger of advancing on both the Gamecocks’ career doubles and total-base charts.
Sophomore Kennedy Clark doubled twice in the Indiana win and hit .375 on the weekend.
Junior Kamryn Watts stole a pair of bases while batting .316 in the five games.
Boesel, Snaer and Watts all reached base in all five outings, while Clark did so in the first three.
It was the Gamecocks’ third straight season to play in the Golden State (2015 Mary Nutter Classic, 2016 UCSB Gaucho Classic).
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 56 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 45 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, 41 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.
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.
Snaer came through with big home runs twice to help the Gamecocks down ranked teams.
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.
This year, she’s already added a walk-off blast with her eighth-inning HR to down College of Charleston on Feb. 25.
She entered her senior year ranking first in SC history in doubles per game and walks per game and second in RBI per game.
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.
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.
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 Virginia Tech
The Hokies enter the week at 10-6 and 2-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference, downing Virginia on the road to start their league slate.
Virginia Tech does play at Coastal on Tuesday before coming to Columbia.
Tech has hit 24 home runs in 16 games entering the week, which ranks third in NCAA Division I.
Vanessa Gonzalez leads the team with five round-trippers and is second with 12 RBI.
Olivia Lattin has four and Emma Srouth 3, and that trio has 36 of Tech’s 78 RBI.
Aysha Richardson contributes with her feet, with five stolen bases in six tries, and with her arm, ranking third on the team in ERA (3.35) and innings pitched (23).
Five different Hokies have at least three doubles, led by Gonzalez’s and Lattin’s four each.
That duo also has seven walks each, almost a third of the team’s total.
In the circle, Carrie Eberle leads the way with 43 innings of work and a 2.44 ERA.
While she’s got the most strikeouts with 21, she’s also allowed 22 walks.
In fact, only two of Tech’s pitchers have less walks than strikeouts: Taylor Barnes (8-to-5) and Chelsea Whitcomb (7-to-6).
Ties Between South Carolina and Virginia Tech
Gamecock freshman Cayla Drotar had the chance to play with Virginia Tech sophomore Emma Strouth as a part of the NC Lightning teams.
Juniors Ashley Kowalski (VT) and Alyssa VanDerveer (SC) both played with the Jersey Intensity travel-ball group.
SC Series History vs. the Hokies
The teams are tied 6-6 in the series, but the Hokies have a 4-2 lead 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.
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.
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.
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.