March 23, 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 Travel to Take on No. 9/9 Alabama in Three-Game Set
South Carolina (20-10, 1-5 SEC) hits the road for a three-game set at No. 9/9 Alabama (28-3, 5-1 SEC) at Rhoads Stadium this weekend.
All three games of the series will be shown on SEC Network + on Watch ESPN.
Offense Facing the Challenge of the Nation’s Best
South Carolina’s offense has faced some tough pitching in the early part of 2017, already squaring off against 10 of the top 80 teams in ERA according to the NCAA Division I stat rankings (as of March 21).
Last weekend, Florida looked like the No. 1 team that it is in the rankings, holding the Gamecocks to one unearned run in three games.
This weekend’s foe, Alabama, ranks eighth in those same standings, with the following games coming against No. 40 Furman and No. 7 Texas A&M.
The Gamecocks have had success against other top pitching teams, including scoring seven runs against USC Upstate, which stands 11th in the country in ERA.
Overall, the Gamecocks have gone 5-10 against top-80 ERA teams and hit .285 in the 18 games played against top-100 RPI teams, which includes three games against non-top 100 ERA squads Indiana and Long Beach State.
Despite the tough foes, the Gamecocks stand 91st in NCAA Division I in batting average and 62nd in slugging percentage. The full listing can be found on page 7.
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 and .468 on-base percentage to go with a .333 batting average and 21 RBI, both of which rank 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 leads the Gamecocks’ offense in RBI (28) and batting average (.388) while ranking second in on-base percentage (.465) and slugging percentage (.565).
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.
She’s 6-for-7 with the bases loaded, and her grand slam led the Gamecocks to a 7-5 win over in-state rival USC Upstate (3/15).
This season, she’s hitting .486 with runners in scoring position and has 14 RBI with two outs, one better than freshman Mackenzie Boesel.
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.
She’s producing ground outs at a 67-percent rate this season (102-50), 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).
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.
BBlue leads the country with 20 career saves, while she ranks second in appearances (156).
Snaer stands second in career doubles with 52.
The duo both hold NCAA season statistical plaques: Snaer for doubles in 2016 and Blue for saves in 2014.
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 .
She had her career-best 24-game reached-base streak, the best since Alaynie Page’s 21-game stretch in 2015, end against No. 2/1 Florida in Saturday’s second game.
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.
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
South Carolina has come from behind to capture a win seven times already this season.
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.
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.
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).
Gamecock Pitching Posting Stellar Results
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.
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.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
South Carolina has played 2,215 games in its softball history, going 1436-772-7 (.650) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
The ninth-ranked team in the country in both major polls, Alabama is a perfect 19-0 at home while standing at 28-3 on the season.
The Crimson Tide stand in the top 15 in both ERA (1.12, 8th) and fielding percentage (.976, 14th) in NCAA Division I.
Alexis Osorio leads Alabama from the circle and leads the country in wins (16), strikeouts (180), strikeouts per seven innings (13.6) and hits per seven innings (2.12).
Osorio has 28 walks in 92.1 innings of work but has allowed five home runs.
The Crimson Tide’s No. 2, Sydney Littlejohn, has a slightly better ERA (0.44), good for third in NCAA Division I, and has struck out 107 in 79.1 innings.
At the plate, six probable Crimson Tide starters boast of on-base percentages better than .400.
Bailey Hemphill tops the Tide in home runs (5), RBI (26), walks (35) and on-base percentage (.565).
Peyton Grantham has a team-best seven doubles and ranks second with 25 RBI, while Merris Schroder has a squad-high .425 batting average and 21 RBI.
Demi Turner and Elissa Brown set the table, both with 23 runs scored, while Brown has 15 stolen bases to Turner’s 12.
Turner also has eight sacrifice hits, while Chandler Dare has five to go with nine stolen bases.
Off the bench, Rachel Bobo has seven stolen bases in eight tries.
Twelve different players for Alabama have home runs on the year.
Common Foes of the Gamecocks and Crimson Tide
Two common foes are found between South Carolina and Alabama, with both teams claiming wins against the common Big South Conference foes.
The Gamecocks own two wins over Winthrop, 8-0 (5) and 1-0, a team Alabama claimed a 1-0 win against, while both also beat Gardner-Webb, the Tide a 9-0 (5) win while SC won Tuesday’s home game against the Runnin’ Bulldogs 9-4.
Ties Between South Carolina and Alabama
Alabama sophomore Caroline Hardy played travel-ball with the TN Fury, the same group with which Gamecock sophomore Lex Hull and junior Shannon Plese played.
Gamecock freshman Cayla Drotar had the chance to play with Alabama junior Carrigan Fain as a part of the NC Lightning teams.
SC Series History vs. the Crimson Tide
Alabama leads the all-time series 40-17, including a 21-4 advantage in games played in Tuscaloosa.
The Last Series – Alabama at South Carolina – April 29-May 1, 2016
Alabama won a series of tight games two games to one in Columbia.
The Gamecocks got the winning run to the plate in the seventh before falling 3-1 to No. 4/4 Alabma on Friday night.
Alaynie Page hit her program record-tying 33rd home run in the first and scored the game-winning run in the third in Saturday’s 2-1 win over the Crimson Tide.
Kaylea Snaer drove in that game-winning run, while Jessica Elliott picked up the win, tossing four shutout innings, ahead of Nickie Blue’s three frames that earned her a save.
The third game was marred by lightning delays, the final one ending the game after five innings in Alabama’s favor, 5-1.
Kennedy Clark went 3-for-3 in the finale, while Snaer drove in the lone Gamecock run.
Some Win-Loss Breakdowns
In wins, South Carolina has 98 free base runners via walks (74) and HBPs (24) against 32 in losses.
The Gamecocks have only had 13 chances with runners on third and less than two outs in the 10 losses.
With the bases loaded, SC hits .481 (13-for-27) in wins and .100 (1-for-10) in losses.
Those numbers equate to 22 runs in 10 losses compared to 126 in 20 wins.
The Gamecocks have 15 productive outs (8 SF, 7 SH) in wins and only two in setbacks
. The Gamecocks also run less in losses (28 SB in W’s, 8 in L’s) and commit more errors (18 in 10 losses, 15 in 20 wins).
When Gamecock pitching keeps leadoff runners from reaching at least half the time, SC is 16-3.
In wins, the pitchers hold better strikeout-to-walk ratios (98:57 in wins, 40:50 in losses).
12 of the 15 home runs allowed came in Gamecock losses, while eight of the 14 wild pitches have come in those same games.
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.
Plese: The Pinch Hitting Specialist
Junior Shannon Plese has taken on the role of pinch-hitting specialist this year, going 4-for-11 in those appearances.
Her on-base percentage in those appearances shoots to .500 thanks to two walks and a hit-by-pitch.
Her biggest strike off the bench came in game two against Winthrop, as she knocked a game-winning RBI double in the seventh to give SC the 1-0 win over its in-state rival.
She’s 10-for-16 in moving runners up, with her .625 percentage leading the team.
She’s contributed while starting as well, hitting .333 in five starts.
Her best came against Gardner-Webb, as she went 2-for-3 with a double and her first home run as a Gamecock, which stood as the game-winner.
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.
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 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.
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.
Gamecocks Know A Lot About the Big South
The proximity of the Big South Conference schools to Columbia lends to South Carolina playing many of its members in non-conference competition.
Winthrop stands as the third Big South foe to venture to Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field this year after defending league champ Longwood and Presbyterian.
Two more are slated to come this spring: Gardner-Webb (March 21) and Charleston Southern (April 18).
The Gamecocks are 100-13-1 all-time against the eight current league members that sponsor softball, including 3-0 this season.
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.
Clark Leading Gamecock Newcomers at the Plate
Outfielder Kennedy Clark started all but two games during her freshman campaign.
She ended the year second on the team in on-base percentage (.430), doubles (11) and walks (26)while tying for third with four home runs and standing third with 36 RBI.
That OBP is the best in South Carolina history for a freshman, topping Victoria Williams’ mark of .426 in 2014.
On those freshman listings, she ranked fourth in doubles (11) and doubles per game, tied for second in walks (26) and tied for fifth with RBI (36).
She’s also tied for second in walks per game and fourth in RBI per game, both joining Alaynie Page’s rookie campaign.
Clark tied the program record with two round-trippers in the Ohio win.
The freshman drove home 10 runners from third with less than two outs in 14 tries while also advancing runners at a .579 clip (70-for-121).
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 2016 Newcomer Contributions for South Carolina
Jessica Elliott started 36 games in the circle, tying for eighth in a single season at SC, while her 47 appearances tied for fourth.
Kenzi Maguire started 45 games at shortstop and led the team with 15 HBPs, second in a single season at South Carolina.
Maguire also made her mark in the field, tying for fourth in the Gamecocks’ SEC era in assists per game (2.04) and standing third on fielding percentage (.965).