March 14, 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 Starts Homestand on Wed. vs. USC Upstate
The Gamecocks return home for a five-game stint that beings Wednesday night against USC Upstate (23-4).
First pitch is set for 6 p.m. against the defending Atlantic Sun Tournament champs, with Brad Muller and Megan Matthews Buning on the call for SEC Network + on Watch ESPN.
Gamecock Pitching Posting Stellar Results
South Carolina’s pitching staff has a 1.98 ERA through 25 games.
The team ranked 35th in the NCAA Division I stats through March 12.
In February, South Carolina’s pitching tallied eight shutouts, tying 2014 for the most in the 2000s during 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.
Elliott has two more complete games (5-3) and one more complete-game shutout (3-2) than fellow senior Nickie Blue.
Freshman Cayla Drotar has two complete-game shutouts as well, including a one-hitter in her debut against Presbyterian.
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.
Boesel has produced with a .489 on-base percentage and four home runs, both tops on the team, as well as .377 batting average and 21 RBI, both ranking second.
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.
<> 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.
White Leading the Offense in Early Part of 2017
Krystan White enters the sixth week of play leading the Gamecocks’ offense in RBI (23) and batting average (.403).
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 took over at shortstop at North Carolina after an injury to sophomore Kenzi Maguire forced her out of the lineup.
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 (3/5), Blue moved into the top 10 in NCAA Division I history in career saves, and her next one pushes her into the top five.
Blue’s also moved up South Carolina’s lists in innings pitched, wins, shutouts and strikeouts in 2017.
She’s producing ground outs at a 66-percent rate this season (88-46), 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).
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
South Carolina has played 2,210 games in its softball history, going 1434-769-7 (.650) 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).
Blue, Snaer Among NCAA Division I Active Leaders
Gamecock seniors Nickie Blue and Kaylea Snaer both rank among NCAA Division I’s active leaders in some statistical categories.
Blue leads the country with 19 career saves, while she ranks second in appearances (152).
Snaer stands second in career doubles with 51.
The duo both hold NCAA season statistical plaques: Snaer for doubles in 2016 and Blue for saves in 2014.
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.
Comebacks Becoming Regular Occurrence for Gamecocks
In the first 25 games, South Carolina has come from behind to capture a win six times.
Five other times, the Gamecocks have picked up a walk-off win, twice in extra innings.
Last season, the Gamecocks won seven games entering the seventh either tied or down, and this year’s team has five, more than halfway to that mark.
All the last at-bat wins can be seen in the chart on the right.
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.
Snaer Back to Threaten More Records
Moved to the leadoff spot at No. 14/13 Tennessee, Kaylea Snaer went 6-for-11 with three doubles and a grand slam in the series, helping the Gamecocks win the SEC opener for the first time since 2008.
That helped her leap to third on SC’s career doubles charts and also move up in RBI and total bases.
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.
This year, she’s posted a walk-off blast in the eighth to down College of Charleston on Feb. 25 to add to her legacy of big hits.
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.
She earned a spot on the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 team, the 17th Gamecock to garner selection.
Snaer 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 USC Upstate
The defending Atlantic Sun Tournament champs, USC Upstate is 23-4 on the year.
Pitching and defense drive the Spartans, who rank fourth in team ERA and ninth in fielding percentage in NCAA Division I.
Holly McKinnon and Lexi Shubert control things in the circle, both with 13 starts, double-digit wins against two losses and ERAs near 1.
McKinnon has been a little better with her 0.87 ERA and 116 strikeouts to 19 walks in 89 innings, though she’s given up four more extra base hits and seven homers total.
Shubert’s been solid too, with 101 K’s to 23 walks in 80.2 innings, posting a 1.04 ERA.
At the plate, five Spartans hold batting averages better than .300, while five have five or more stolen bases.
Ansley Gilstrap has 18 steals in 19 tries and a team-best .438 on-base percentage.
Powering the lineup is Karla Beasley, who has six doubles, six homers, 24 RBI and a .354 batting average.
Abbie Millete has seven doubles and three homers while also drawing 11 walks.
Ryan Rector has nine stolen bases and two triples, tying Gilstrap and Kendsey Chappelear for most on the team in that latter category.
Megan Obier has seven stolen bases and three sacrifice hits while hitting .313..
Common Foes of the Gamecocks and Spartans
Both teams own home wins over Presbyterian, Upstate a 4-0 win on Feb. 19 after the Gamecocks took two shortened games from the Blue Hose, 8-0 and 14-0.
Ties Between South Carolina and USC Upstate
Both teams have multiple players who were a part of the Carolina Elite group, Gamecocks Cayla Drotar, Macey Webb and Krystan White and Spartans Ansley Gilstrap, Ryan Rector, Alicia Dorgan and Kori Wancheck.
Seniors Rector and Victoria Williams both graduated from Palmetto High School.
Both Upstate’s Kendsey Chappelear and SC’s Lauren Stewart spent time with the Georgia Impact travel-ball program.
Both Upstate’s Holly McKinnon and South Carolina’s Kenzi Maguire played with Team North Florida on the travel-ball circuit.
SC Series History vs. the Spartans
South Carolina has claimed four of the seven meetings all-time against its fellow system school, but the two teams have split the four games in Columbia.
The Last Meeting – South Carolina at USC Upstate – April 13, 2016
Behind Victoria Williams’ solo home run and a combined shutout from Jessica Elliott and Nickie Blue, South Carolina took a 1-0 win at USC Upstate.
Elliott tossed the first four innings, scattering three hits and three walks while getting three strikeouts.
Blue got her fifth save when, after giving up a leadoff single, she retired nine straight Spartans.
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.
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.
Augustus Plays Big Role in SC Sweeping Through Gamecock Invitational
Junior Jordyn Augustus did a little of everything in her four starts during the Gamecock Invitational, helping South Carolina win all four of its games in the event.
With an illness sidelining everyday starter Kamryn Watts on Friday and Saturday, Augustus put on an infielder’s glove and started three games at third base, making two errors in 12 chances.
To close out the weekend-opening win, she fielded three straight balls flawlessly in the seventh.
She brought in the game-winning run in the first outing against North Dakota State with a sacrifice fly before scoring the game-winner in the second outing against the Bison.
In that second game, she put down a bunt single, stole second and scored on Kennedy Clark’s RBI single.
She capped the weekend with a 2-for-2 day, stealing two bases, scoring twice, driving in two runs while reaching base in all four plate appearances, also reaching via walk and hit-by-pitch.
Overall, she batted .429 with a .500 on-base percentage and four stolen bases in the tournament.
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.