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March 31, 2017

Weekend Information

Date: April 1-3, 2017

First Pitch: 2 p.m. Sat., 5 p.m. Sun., 7 p.m. Mon.

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Stadium: Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field

Live Video: SEC Network (Sat. & Mon.), ESPNU (Sun.)

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

Trinity Johnson Feature
Kendra McCutcheon Feature

Gamecocks and No. 7/5 Texas A&M Tangle on TV April 1-3

The South Carolina Gamecocks (22-12, 2-7 SEC) plays host to No. 7/5 Texas A&M (28-3, 7-2 SEC) for a three-game series set for television on Sat.-Mon., April 1-3.
Both Saturday and Monday’s games are on the SEC Network, while Sunday’s game has shifted to ESPNU to help Gamecock fans watch all of South Carolina’s teams on national TV this weekend.

Offense Facing Off Against Some of the Best Pitching in the Country

South Carolina’s offense has faced some tough pitching in the early part of 2017, already squaring off against 21 times against the top 100 teams in ERA according to the NCAA Division I stat rankings (as of March 29).
This weekend’s games come against No. 7 Texas A&M.
The Gamecocks have had success against other top pitching teams, including scoring seven runs against USC Upstate, which stands sixth in the country in ERA, and 14 at Alabama, the most a visitor has scored in a single game against the Crimson Tide, who is 13th in the rankings.
Overall, the Gamecocks have gone 10-11 against top-100 ERA teams and hit .265 against that group.
Despite the tough foes, the Gamecocks stand 78th in NCAA Division I in batting average and 51st in slugging percentage.

Blue Starting to Climb Gamecock Pitching Charts

Senior Nickie Blue claimed South Carolina’s saves record, her 19th, 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.
The ace of the staff posted her best start of the year at No. 9/9 Alabama, holding the Tide to two hits without issuing a walk in the shutout win, which garnered her SEC Pitcher of the Week honors, the second of her career.
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 (116-58), the best percentage of her career, which stood at 62 percent entering the season (777-472).
This year, Blue’s held foes to a .139 batting average (20-of-144) when she gets to two strikes.
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).

White Leading the Offense in Early Part of 2017

Krystan White leads the Gamecocks’ offense in RBI (32) and batting average (.361) while ranking second in on-base percentage (.434).
In her 4-for-4 opening day, three of her four hits went for extra bases: the homer joined with a double against Ohio and another double against Presbyterian.
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 moved back to shortstop exclusively starting with the game at North Carolina after an injury to sophomore Kenzi Maguire suffered in Texas forced her out of the lineup.
She’s 6-for-8 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 .487 with runners in scoring position and has 14 RBI with two outs, one better than freshman Mackenzie Boesel.

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 six home runs and .468 on-base percentage to go with a .347 batting average and 25 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.
Boesel’s six home runs is tied for fourth for a Gamecock freshman, two shy of Kaylea Snaer’s record.
A three-time South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, Drotar is 4-1 with a 3.00 ERA in 53.2 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.

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’s tied for third in appearances (158).
Snaer stands second in career doubles with 53.
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

Senior first baseman Kaylea Snaer entered her senior year ranking first in SC history in doubles per game and walks per game and second in RBI per game.
She had her career-best 24-game reached-base streak, the best for SC since Alaynie Page’s 21-game stretch in 2015, end against No. 2/1 Florida in Saturday’s second game.
Moved to the leadoff spot at No. 14/13 Tennessee, 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.

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.
On three occasions, Gamecock starters have tallied one-hitters, and three more two-hitters are also in the books.
Elliott has two more complete games (6-4) than fellow senior Nickie Blue, and and one more shutout (4-3).
Freshman Cayla Drotar has two complete-game shutouts as well, including a one-hitter in her debut against Presbyterian.

Gamecocks Find Some Success in the Challenge in SEC Road Play

South Carolina has done something for the first time since the early 2000’s in both of its first two SEC road trips this spring.
The Gamecocks have won games at No. 14 Tennessee and No. 9 Alabama already, marking the first time SC has won games at two different ranked SEC foes since 2004 (at No. 4 LSU, 3/13; at No. 13 Alabama 4/17).
The win in Knoxville was the first in 16 tries, with the last win coming in a series sweep April 2-3, 2002.
That victory also stands as SC’s first in an SEC opener since 2008.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks recorded the most runs by a foe at Alabama in history in the 14-0 win in the series’ second game.
The 14 runs and 13 RBI from that game are both the most compiled in a SEC game this season.
And it was the first win in Tuscaloosa since that 2004 contest mentioned earlier, ending an 18-game skid at Rhoads Stadium.
South Carolina still has trips to Mississippi State, currently unranked, and Georgia, who has been ranked every week thus far in 2017, on the SEC docket.

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.

South Carolina Softball Historical Record

South Carolina has played 2,219 games in its softball history, going 1438-774-7 (.650) in its 41st season of sponsorship.

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.

Gamecocks Love Home Cooking at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field

South Carolina holds a 15-3 home record, and the team’s numbers reflect the better play at home.
The team has a .978 fielding percentage on the finely-maintained surface of Beckham Field (thanks to Marcus Thurber and crew), compared to .950 mark in the 16 games away from home.
That helps the pitching, which has a 2.56 ERA at Carolina Stadium, compared to 3.15 away.
The strikeout-to-walk ratio is also markedly better (97:57 at home, 60:62 away/neutral) as well as the opponent batting average (.182 to .274).
Senior Nickie Blue has also done much better at home (2.06 ERA in 37.1 innings, 3.17 ERA in 42 innings), including a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio at home.
Senior Jessica Elliott (2.07 ERA at home, 4.12 ERA away) has also been better in South Carolina and has shown better control (47:24 K:BB ratio at home, 26:39 away).
Nine of the 11 shutouts have come at home.
SC natives Krystan White (.422/.481/.689 at home, .308/.390/.365 away) and Victoria Williams (.372/.442/.698 at home, .191/.255/.298 away) enjoy the home feel the most.

Scouting Texas A&M

The Aggies are in the top 10 in both major polls with a 29-3 record on the year.
Texas A&M enters the weekend with a perfect 4-0 mark at the visitor’s site, downing Memphis in a single game on the way to a sweep at Mississippi in the second week of SEC play.
Fielding, pitching and power stand as A&M’s calling cards, ranking second in the SEC in fielding percentage (.985), ERA (1.22) and slugging percentage (.512).
In the circle, the three-woman staff of juniors Trinity Harrington and Lexi Smith alongside sophomore Samantha Show have limited foes to a .182 batting average, six homers and 43 runs.
Show is the best of the trio, posting a 1.08 ERA and 72 strikeouts to 24 walks.
Harrington has kept the ball in the ball park all year, allowing no home runs and only three doubles in 50 innings.
Meanwhile, the Aggies have 33 round-trippers, with three students blasting seven each, while five players have 20 or more RBI.
Sophomore Riley Sartain tops the team with her .417 batting average and .738 slugging percentage, hitting seven homers and six doubles.
Juniors Kristen Cuyos and Tori Vidales both have seven home runs as well, with Cuyos leading the team with 28 RBI.
Junior Ashley Walters and freshman Sarah Hudek both have nine doubles, while Show has eight.
Sophomores Kaitlyn Alderink and Keeli Milligan add speed to the mix; the duo has combined for 26 of the team’s 50 stolen bases.
The Aggie defense has been stellar, committing only 13 errors while also helping the pitching staff to limit foes to 10 doubles and no triples.

Common Foes of the Gamecocks and Aggies

Both teams played two common opponents in events in southern California.
The Aggies defeated both Long Beach State (5-0) and No. 20/20 Arizona State (2-1 in 9 inn.) in the Mary Nutter Classic, while the Gamecocks went 1-1 versus those two, falling to ASU 4-3 in 9 before beating LBSU 4-2.

SC Series History vs. the Aggies

The Gamecocks are 14-19 all-time against Texas A&M and 5-6 at home against the Aggies.
South Carolina won two of three in 2014, the Aggies’ first trip to Columbia as an SEC member.

The Last Series – South Carolina at Texas A&M – March 20-22, 2015

Texas A&M swept the series in College Station, taking game one in extra innings before closing out the weekend with a doubleheader sweep on Sunday.
A 10th-inning error doomed the Gamecocks in a 3-2 loss, but Nickie Blue held A&M to two earned runs over eight-plus innings of work.
Brianna Dozier knocked a game-winning home run in the seventh in the second game of the series to hand Texas A&M a 4-3 win.
Gamecock Victoria Williams had an RBI single in game two.
The Aggies finished the series sweep with a 5-2 win, led by Ashley Walters’ three-RBI day.
Kaylea Snaer went 2-for-4 in the finale, while the Gamecocks left nine runners on base.

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.

Some Win-Loss Breakdowns

In wins, South Carolina has 107 free base runners via walks (83) and HBPs (24) against 34 in losses.
The Gamecocks have only had 13 chances with runners on third and less than two outs in the 12 losses.
With the bases loaded, SC hits .452 (14-for-31) in wins and .100 (1-for-10) in losses.
Those numbers equate to 27 runs in 12 losses compared to 148 in 22 wins.
The Gamecocks have 17 productive outs (9 SF, 8 SH) in wins and only two in setbacks.
In losses, South Carolina runs less (28 SB in W’s, 8 in L’s) and commit more errors (20 in 12 losses, 15 in 20 wins).
When Gamecock pitching keeps leadoff runners from reaching at least half the time, SC is 18-4.
In wins, the pitchers hold better strikeout-to-walk ratios (111:60 in wins, 46:59 in losses).
Twelve of the 15 home runs allowed came in Gamecock losses, while 11 of the 18 wild pitches have come in those same games.

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).

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.

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.

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 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 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.

Plese: The Pinch Hitting Specialist

Junior Shannon Plese has taken on the role of pinch-hitting specialist this year, going 4-for-14 in those appearances.
Her on-base percentage in those appearances stands at .412 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 contributed in her five starts as well, hitting .333.
Volunteer assistant Matt Stewart worked the past three years at Florida, serving as a manager for both of the Gators’ national title wins.
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.