No. 18/18 Kentucky
Notes // Bios // Season Stats
No. 10 Seed South Carolina Faces Kentucky in SEC Tournament Opening Round
South Carolina (32-22. 8-15 SEC), who secured the 10th seed with consective series wins to end the year, takes on No. 18/18 Kentucky in the first round of the SEC Tournament.
All four of the first round games on Wednesday from Lee Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., will be shown on the SEC Network. Beth Mowins and Michelle Smith have the call for the night doubleheader, which the Gamecocks and Wildcats start at 5 p.m. EDT
The winner takes on second-seeded and No. 7/8 Auburn on Thursday at 5 p.m., also on the SEC Network.
Gamecocks Receive SEC Awards, First Rankings on May 9
May 9, 2017 stands a a solid day in Gamecock Softball, as good news rolled in all morning.
Gamecocks (SEC All-Freshman Team) and (SEC All-Defensive Team at 1B) both garnered SEC awards from the coaches’ vote.
Boesel’s the fourth Gamecock under Beverly Smith to make the All-Freshman Team, while Snaer’s the third South Carolina player to make the All-Defensive team in the last 10 years.
Later, the NFCA Coaches’ Top-25 poll came out, and the Gamecocks came in at No. 24 after receiving votes in 12 of the first 13 releases of the poll.
It’s the first time South Carolina has been ranked since the postseason polls of 2007 by both the NFCA and USA Softball.
The Gamecocks also came in at No. 23 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
A week prior, Gamecock senior won a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 team for the second time in three years.
Pitchers Have Responded in Last 18 Games
The Gamecock pitching staff has posted a 2.03 ERA in its last 18 games, helping the team to two top-10 wins, two series wins over ranked teams and a 10-8 mark over that period.
That includes a marked improvement in the team’s strikeout-to-walk ratio, posting 73 K’s while walking 45 in that stretch (120.2 innings).
In the 36 games before this, ending with the Texas A&M series, the Gamecock pitchers had posted a 3.33 ERA with 166 strikeouts to 139 walks in 229.1 innings of work.
This year, the Gamecocks have played 28 games against the top-100 scoring teams in NCAA Division I, going 12-16 in those contests.
Offense Facing Off Against Some of the Best Pitching in the Country
South Carolina’s offense has squared off against the top 75 teams in ERA according to the NCAA Division I stat rankings on 35 occasions already (as of May 7), going 15-20 in those meetings.
In the SEC Tournament opening round, the Gamecocks face the 40th-ranked team in ERA, Kentucky.
The Gamecocks have had success against other top pitching teams, including scoring seven runs against USC Upstate, which stands seventh in ERA, and 14 at Alabama, the most a visitor has scored in a single game against the Crimson Tide, who is 10th in the rankings.
South Carolina has tallied the most runs against these six teams: Ohio (10), Presbyterian (14), Indiana (13), Tennessee (9), Alabama (14) and Florida State (7).
In 23 games against the top-25 ERA teams, SC is 8-15, but they are 7-5 against teams 26-75.
South Carolina Has Performed Well in SEC Tournament Play
For the 15th time and the fifth season in a row under Beverly Smith, South Carolina earned a spot in the SEC Tournament field.
The Gamecocks are 18-19 all-time in the event, winning the title in 1997 and 2000.
Since the event shifted to a single-elimination setup, SC has gone 3-5, winning opening-round games in 2013 (at No. 18 Kentucky), 2015 (vs. No. 22 Texas A&M) and 2016 (vs. No. 17 Missouri).
White Leads the Run Production
leads the Gamecocks’ offense in RBI (38) and ranks third in batting average (.309) and doubles (9).
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 suffered in Texas forced her out of the lineup.
She’s 7-for-9 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 a team-best .434 with runners in scoring position and has 18 RBI with two outs, tied with freshman for most of the team.
Blue Starting to Climb Gamecock Pitching Charts
Senior owns South Carolina’s saves record and stands in the top five in NCAA Division I history in career saves with 21.
Blue’s also moved up South Carolina’s lists in innings pitched, appearances, wins, shutouts and strikeouts in 2017.
The staff ace 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.
She’s producing ground outs at a 61-percent rate this season (186-117), in line with her career rate that stood at 62 percent entering the season (777-472).
This year, Blue’s held foes to a .151 batting average (36-of-238) 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).
Snaer Back to Threaten More Records
Senior first baseman enters the SEC Tournament as South Carolina’s career record-holder in walks while ranking in the top 15 in 14 categories total.
Snaer started the year ranking first in SC history in doubles per game and walks per game and second in RBI per game.
She’s not just a standout at the plate, as the SEC coaches selected her for the first-base spot on the SEC All-Defensive Team after she ranked fourth in SEC play in putout and second in double plays.
Snaer’s already tied for ninth on the single-season walks list with 30 this year, one from matching her first two years’ total of 31, which are tied for sixth.
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.
Snaer reached base at a .419 clip in 26 games as the Gamecocks’ leadoff hitter, with 18 of those games coming in SEC play.
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 (3/18).
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.
Blue, Snaer Among NCAA Division I Active Leaders
Gamecock seniors and both rank among NCAA Division I’s active leaders in some statistical categories.
Blue leads the country with 21 career saves, while she’s third in appearances (172)..
Snaer is tied for fifth in career doubles with 57.
The duo both hold NCAA season statistical plaques: Snaer for doubles in 2016 and Blue for saves in 2014.
Comebacks Becoming Regular Occurrence for Gamecocks
South Carolina has come from behind to capture a win 13 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, two shy of that mark.
Gamecocks Post Victory vs. No. 1/2 Florida State
The biggest SC Softball victory in 15 years occurred on Fri., April 14, when the Gamecocks downed No. 1/2 Florida State 7-2.
It’s the fourth time in history South Carolina has beaten the top team in the country and the first time since 2002 NCAA Regionals in Columbia, when SC forced the “if” game against No. 1 UCLA with a 2-1 win (May 19, 2002).
The Gamecocks tallied seven runs against the nation’s eighth-best pitching staff in ERA, the most allowed by FSU this year, and SC raised Jessica Burrough’s ERA by 0.20 runs (0.57 to 0.77).
Junior went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, while fellow junior knocked in the game-winning run with her three-run blast that put SC on top for good.
Two Freshmen Making Impact Early in 2017
Freshmen has produced with a team-best .333 batting average and .438 on-base percentage to go with her seven home runs and 31 RBI, both of which rank second.
Those numbers helped Boesel garner a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team, the fourth Gamecock to make it under head coach Beverly Smith.
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 seven homers are tied for second for a Gamecock freshman, one shy of Kaylea Snaer’s record.
A three-time South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, Drotar, in her first career start against Presbyterian, twirled a one-hitter.
That beginning harkens back to another in-state pitcher’s debut back in 2011, when no-hit Coastal Carolina in her first go in the circle on Feb. 12, 2011.
Drotar also tossed the first five innings and picked up the win in the victory over No. 1/2 Florida State on April 14, earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors on April 18.
She’s also doubled twice vs. the Seminoles.
Gamecocks Found Success on the Road in the SEC
South Carolina won a game in each of its four SEC trips this season, the first time since 2001 to accomplish that feat (at Arkansas, Georgia, Auburn & Kentucky).
The Gamecocks won single games at No. 14 Tennessee, No. 9 Alabama and Mississippi State before taking the series at No. 22/25 Georgia.
The five road wins is the most for a Beverly Smith team since 2013, when the Gamecocks took six road SEC games (1 at No. 13 LSU, 2 at Auburn, 3 at Mississippi State).
It’s the first time SC has won games at three different ranked SEC foes, topping the two wins in 2004 (at No. 4 LSU, 3/13; at No. 13 Alabama 4/17).
The win in Knoxville ended a 16-game, 15-year losing streak, with the last wins coming in a series sweep on 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. .
It was the first win in Tuscaloosa since that 2004 contest mentioned earlier, ending an 18-game skid at Rhoads Stadium.
The Gamecocks got a shutout from to down Mississippi State in the series opener.
South Carolina took the series at No. 22/25 Georgia two games to one, the first road series win against a ranked SEC team since taking two at No. 14 Kentucky in 2015.
It’s the Gamecocks’ first series win in Athens since sweeping a 2001 doubleheader from Georgia.
The Gamecocks have now one at least one SEC road series in each of the last five seasons.
Gamecock Pitching Posting Solid 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 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.
The Gamecocks have three one-hitters and five two-hitters in the books this season.
Seniors and Elliott both have seven complete games, while Elliott has one more shutout (5-4) than Blue after Elliott’s five-inning two-hitter vs. Charleston Southern.
Freshman has two complete-game shutouts as well, which includes a one-hitter in her debut against Presbyterian.
The Wildcats, the seventh seed in the SEC Tournament, enter the event with a 35-16 record.
Pitching and defense are Kentucky’s strengths, ranking in the top 40 in NCAA Division I in both.
Meagan Prince fronts the four-woman staff with 166.2 innings of work, striking out nearly a batter an inning while walking 75 to post a 1.97 ERA.
Erin Rethlake ranks second in innings (87), strikeouts (66) but leads UK with a 1.85 ERA.
The Wildcats hold a .970 fielding percentage, good for eighth in the SEC.
Kentucky runs, stealing 79 bases on the year while being caught 18 times.
Rethlake leads the theft squad with 18, while Katie Reed stands second with 14. Both Bailey Vick and Brooklin Hinz have nine, Abbey Cheek has eight.
Sarah Rainwater and Brynlee Bigelow have seven each, Bigelow’s coming almost exclusively off the bench.
Big Blue is also selfless, posting 36 sacrifice bunts, led by Rainwater’s 11, Vick’s seven and Reed’s six.
Cheek powers the lineup with her 10 homers and 35 RBI, while Breanne Ray has 26 RBI and Alex Martens 24.
Both Martens and Reed have 10 doubles, while Vick has nine.
Vick is the only Wildcat with an on-base percentage in the .400’s, just hitting that mark at .400
Common Foes of the Gamecocks and Wildcats
There are two common non-conference foes between South Carolina and Kentucky and five like SEC foes.
Both beat Indiana, South Carolina twice, while Kentucky split a doubleheader at UCLA, a team SC lost to in the Judi Garman Classic.
In SEC play, both Kentucky and SC fell twice in three-game series in Starkville.
Kentucky lost a series at Georgia, two games to one, while South Carolina won two of three in Athens.
The Wildcats were swept at home by Tennessee, a team the Gamecocks took the SEC opener against in Knoxville.
However, Kentucky took a game at home from Florida and the series from Texas A&M, teams South Carolina combined to go 0-5 against in Columbia.
Ties Between South Carolina and Kentucky
UK sophomore Abbey Cheek played for Carolina Elite, the same group that helped produced three current Gamecocks (, and ).
Kentucky’s Meagan Prince played travel-ball with the TN Fury, the same group with which Gamecock sophomore and junior played.
SC Series History vs. the Tigers
South Carolina holds a 38-25 advantage in the all-time series against Kentucky, including a 2-0 mark in games at neutral sites.
The Gamecocks are 3-0 against Kentucky in SEC Tournament play, always facing the Wildcats in the first game of the tournament (2000, 2001 and 2013).
The Last Series – Kentucky at South Carolina – March 11-13, 2016
No. 17 Kentucky swept a three-game set in Columbia to start SEC play last season.
Three Gamecock errors helped the Wildcats win 8-2 on Friday night.
Kentucky took game two 5-1, drawing eight walks against Gamecock pitching.
The Wildcats completed the weekend with a 4-0 shutout of South Carolina.
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
South Carolina has played 2,239 games in its softball history, going 1448-784-7 (.648) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
Some Win-Loss Breakdowns
In wins, South Carolina has 142 free base runners via walks (110) and HBPs (32) against 54 in losses.
The Gamecocks have only had 24 chances with runners on third and less than two outs in the 22 losses.
Those numbers equate to 41 runs in 22 losses compared to 205 in 32 wins.
The Gamecocks have 24 productive outs (11 SF, 13 SH) in wins and only five in setbacks.
In losses, South Carolina runs less (34 SB in W’s, 14 in L’s) and commit more errors (30 in 22 losses, 24 in 32 wins).
When Gamecock pitching keeps leadoff runners from reaching at least half the time, SC is 25-14.
In wins, the pitchers hold better strikeout-to-walk ratios (150:88 in wins, 89:96 in losses).
Seventeen of the 20 home runs allowed came in Gamecock losses, while 17 of the 25 wild pitches have come in those same defeats.
The Schedule Has Never Been Tougher
The 2017 schedule is the toughest compiled to date by head coach Beverly Smith.
The Gamecocks were scheduled to play 33 of their 56 regular-season games against teams who made the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina played at least one 2016 NCAA Tournament team each weekend except for one: the SEC trip to Mississippi State, who ended last year with a 39 RPI and was ineligible for postseason play (26-31 record).
The docket included 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 42 of the Gamecocks’ scheduled games came against teams that finished in the top 100 of the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index last year. Of those, 39 were against the top-76 teams and 33 are versus the top 50.
The Gamecocks played 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 faced nine of them, including four of the top five and eight of the top 10 (seven in the NFCA poll).
Seven of those nine were in SEC play, accounting for 20 games.
South Carolina, who had 13 points in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason poll, also had five games against teams receiving votes in between the two polls.
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.
became the 17th Gamecock selected to CoSIDA’s Academic All-District team in 2016, a year after 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.
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: and .
The team also added its third NJCAA All-American under Bev Smith, signing 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 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 her.
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. Morgan Davis and Anna Vest also joins that group in the fall.
Leading the Gamecocks’ 14 returners is the senior pitching duo and .
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 , 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 the transfers is former first-team All-Big Ten catcher (Penn State).
Also transferring in are a pair of award-winning outfielders: two-time 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Week (Purdue) and two-time NJCAA All-American (Chattanooga State).
The Gamecocks hail from 12 states this year, with the newcomers coming from California, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee.
and 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.
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 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 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 doubled twice in the Indiana win and hit .375 on the weekend.
Junior 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 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 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.
Gamecocks Love Home Cooking at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field
South Carolina holds a 22-9 home record, and the team’s numbers reflect the better play at home.
The team has a .974 fielding percentage on the finely-maintained surface of Beckham Field (thanks to Marcus Thurber and crew), compared to .954 mark in the 23 games away from home.
The pitcher’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is markedly better (157:107 at home, 82:77 away/neutral) as well as the opponent batting average (.205 to .280). Eleven of the 14 shutouts have come at home.
Senior (1.83 ERA at home, 3.81 ERA away) has been better at Carolina Softball Stadium and has shown better control (69:37 K:BB ratio at home, 32:49 away).
SC natives (.338/.409/.513 at home, .278/.366/.319 away) and (.346/.418/.577 at home, .257/.307/.400 away) enjoy the home feel the most.
Junior has been SC’s best hitter at home (.370/.443/.556 vs. .266/.309/.391 away)
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.