March 16, 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
Gamecocks Welcome No. 2/1 Gators for SEC Weekend Clash
Continuing the home stand, South Carolina brings in No. 2/1 Florida for a three-game series, all on SEC Network + on Watch ESPN.
Friday’s first pitch has been moved back to 7 p.m. to accommodate Gamecock fans wanting to attend the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament, while Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday’s (1 p.m.) starts stayed the same.
Gamecock Pitching Posting Stellar Results
South Carolina’s pitching staff has a 2.11 ERA through 26 games.
The team ranked 36th in the NCAA Division I stats through March 14.
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.
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 team-best four home runs to go with a .367 batting average, .485 on-base percentage and 21 RBI, all 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 4-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 41 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 (27), batting average (.413) and on-base percentage (.489).
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.
Her grand slam led the Gamecocks to a 7-5 win over in-state rival USC Upstate (3/15).
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.
Her most recent save against USC Upstate (3/15) moved her into the top five in NCAA Division I history in career saves.
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 65-percent rate this season (88-47), 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).
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 20 career saves, while she ranks second in appearances (154).
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 26 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.
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 .
Snaer earned a spot on the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 team, the 17th Gamecock to garner selection.
She enters the weekend against Florida on a career-best 23-game reached-base streak.
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.
Last year’s regular-season SEC champs stand at 23-1 on the year, winning 15 straight.
Pitching and defense drive the Gators, who lead NCAA Division I in both in team ERA and in fielding percentage.
In the circle, the Gators have a solid staff with a team ERA of 0.62, fronted by Delanie Gourley and Kelly Barnhill.
Both have nine wins, and while Barnhill has more K’s (110 in 56.2 innings), Gourley has a better strikeout-to-walk ratio (92-6 in 57.1 innings).
And don’t forget about Aleshia Ocasio, who has four wins and 26 K’s to three walks in 32 innings.
One way the staff limits runs, besides the paltry walk numbers, is limiting the long ball, only allowing one homer all year.
At the plate, the Gators just get on base, ranking 10th in the country with a .452 on-base percentage, not just by walks (123) but also by hit-by-pitches (28).
And they take extra bases, stealing 53 in 61 tries while ranking 17th nationally with 2.30 per game.
Eight different Gators have 10 or more RBI, led by Jaimie Hoover’s 26.
Amanda Lorenz has four homers, five doubles and 18 RBI, walking 20 times.
Kayli Kvistad has 30 doubles and a .659 on-base percentage, five doubles and 17 RBI.
Justine McLean leads the team with 11 stolen bases without being caught, while Sophia Reynoso has nine in as many attempts.
Common Foes of the Gamecocks and Gators
There are four common foes between the two teams, three coming from the Judi Garman Classic.
The Gators beat UCLA 9-4, Northwestern 7-4 and Long Beach State 17-0 (5). South Carolina lost to the No. 7/8 Bruins 5-2 and the Wildcats 6-4 before closing the trip with a 4-2 win vs. the 49ers.
Florida hosted North Dakota State on Wed., beating NDSU 13-0 (5), while the Gamecocks picked up a pair of 1-0 wins over the Bison during the Gamecock Invitational.
Ties Between South Carolina and Florida
SC Series History vs. the Gators
Florida owns a 42-20 advantage in the series that began with the inception of the Gators’ program in 1997.
That includes a 19-9 record in games in Columbia.
The last game in Columbia on May 4, 2013, broke a 28-game losing streak for SC in the series.
Gamecocks Love Home Cooking at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field
South Carolina enters the weekend with a 13-0 home record, and the team’s numbers reflect the better play at home.
The team has a .984 fielding percentage on the finely-maintained surface of Beckham Field (thanks to Marcus Thurber and crew), compared to .944 mark in the 13 games away from home.
That helps the pitching, which has a 0.98 ERA at Carolina Stadium, compared to 3.28 away.
The strikeout-to-walk ratio is also markedly better (70:28 at home, 50:53 away/neutral) as well as the opponent batting average (.147 to .271).
Senior Nickie Blue has also done much better at home (0.47 ERA in 29.2 innings, 4.11 ERA in 32.1 innings), including a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio at home.
Senior Jessica Elliott (0.43 ERA at home, 3.53 ERA away) has also been better in South Carolina and has shown better control (31:12 K:BB ratio at home, 24:32 away).
Eight of the nine shutouts have come at home.
SC natives Krystan White (.515/.575/.879 at home, .333/.417/.405 away) and Victoria Williams (.375/.450/.719 at home, .135/.200/.243 away) enjoy the home feel the most.
Some Win-Loss Breakdowns
In wins, South Carolina has 91 free base runners via walks (68) and HBPs (23) against 24 in losses.
The Gamecocks have only had 12 chances with runners on third and less than two outs in the seven losses.
With the bases loaded, SC hits .520 (13-for-25) in wins and .100 (1-for-10) in losses.
Those numbers equate to 21 runs in seven losses compared to 117 in 19 wins.
The Gamecocks have 13 productive outs (7 SF, 6 SH) in wins and only one in setbacks.
The Gamecocks also run less in losses (28 SB in W’s, 8 in L’s) and commit more errors (14 in 7 losses, 14 in 19 wins).
When Gamecock pitching keeps leadoff runners from reaching at least half the time, SC is 15-3.
In wins, the pitchers also strike out more batters compared to those they walk (90:50 in wins, 30:31 in losses).
Eight of the 11 home runs allowed came in Gamecock losses, while six of the nine wild pitches have come in those same games.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
South Carolina has played 2,211 games in its softball history, going 1435-769-7 (.650) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
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 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.
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.