Gamecocks Ready To Play Host To Alabama
COLUMBIA, S.C. —- With large crowds expected surrounding alumni events and an important Southeastern Conference series against No. 4 Alabama, No. 17 South Carolina softball encourages fans to arrive early to all three games this weekend as to not miss out on all the fun. First pitch on Friday and Saturday is set for 6:00 p.m. ET while the series finale is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The series opener and finale will be on SEC Network + while the Saturday game will be on ESPN.
South Carolina has announced the series as Alumni Weekend with the 1989 Women’s College World Series team set to be honored prior to the Friday night game with legendary head coach Joyce Compton throwing out the first pitch.
On Saturday, former Gamecock Trinity Johnson will have her jersey retired during pregame ceremonies. This will mark the first time in program history Carolina has retired a softball jersey and will be the first of four this spring for the Athletic Department. The first 250 fans and 50 students will receive a limited-edition Trinity Johnson “shirzy.”
To accommodate the expected crowds, Carolina will open Carolina Softball Stadium At Beckham Field 90 minutes before first pitch instead of the normal hour before.
For fans still wishing to come, there will be a limited number of single-game tickets available for sale in the ticketing tent on game day all three days of the Alabama series.
Inside the stadium, along with the normal concessions set up Carolina has brought in additional stands around the concourse to help better serve fans.
Fans are encouraged to park in the Heyward Street Parking Garage.
- Carolina comes into the 2019 season looking to build upon a 49-17 season in which the Gamecocks reached the program’s second ever super regional after winning the Columbia Regional.
- The Gamecocks welcome five freshmen and transfer Katie Prebble to the program this season to bring the Gamecocks to 19 active members.
- Head coach Beverly Smith has been keeping the local talent home recently, as the Gamecocks have five South Carolina natives on roster and two of the last three South Carolina Gator Players of the Year.
- Carolina won’t be lacking arms this season with five available coming into the new season, leaving 14 fielders. Freshman Rachel Vaughan comes in as coach Smith’s first left-handed pitcher during her time at South Carolina.
THE UPCOMING WEEKEND
- The Gamecocks returned home for five-straight games starting this Wednesday with a 7-0 win over Charlotte. Kelsey Oh tossed a complete-game shutout in the winning effort.
- South Carolina continued SEC play last weekend, as it dropped its series at No. 8 LSU. The Gamecocks responded from a slow start and took the Saturday game to earn its highest ranked win on the road since 2014. The Gamecocks have never taken a three-game series in Baton Rouge.
- Carolina returns to SEC action this weekend for another tough test, this time against No. 4 Alabama as the Gamecocks host Alumni Weekend. Members of the 1989 WCWS squad will be honored prior to the Friday night game as legendary head coach Joyce Compton will throw out the first pitch. Saturday, Carolina softball will retire its first jersey in program history with the honoring of Trinity Johnson.
- South Carolina came into the week with the 21st-most home runs per game in the country and 16th-best slugging percentage. Jana Johns leads the NCAA in hit by pitches per game.
NOTES AND TRENDS HEADING TO THE WEEKEND
- South Carolina comes into the weekend looking to win its first conference series of the year and its first over Alabama since 2009 when the Gamecocks took 2-of-3 over the Crimson Tide at home.
- Carolina has four players (Mackenzie Boesel, Lauren Stewart, Jana Johns and Kennedy Clark) batting .300 or better in 18 home games this year. Boesel leads the way at .415.
- Kelsey Oh has a 1.27 ERA in 22.0 innings of action at home this year. Teams are hitting just .195 against her. She has 22 strikeouts in contrast to just five walks. Dixie Raley isn’t far behind with a 2.41 ERA with 31 strikeouts and a save. Freshman Karly Heath is a perfect 5-0 at home this season.
- There have been a couple notable trends this season surrounding the Gamecocks and scoring. Carolina is 20-0 when it scores at least six runs and 19-3 when it scores first. In contrast, the Gamecocks are just 6-8 when scoring less than six runs and 7-7 when the opponent plates one first.
HALFWAY THROUGH SEC PLAY
- South Carolina has played four of its eight SEC series thus far and while the Gamecocks haven’t played as well as they’d like there’s still plenty of time and opportunities to turn things around.
- Kennedy Clark has led the way for the Gamecocks at the plate with three multi-hit SEC games and has reached base in three-straight conference games.
- The No. 6 has held true to conference play as Carolina is undefeated in SEC games when scoring at least six runs.
- SC is scheduled for three more SEC series against ranked teams.
BETTER LOOK INTO BOESEL
- Currently batting .364 (would be a career best if the season ended today) on 40 hits (18 of which have gone for extra-base hits) as she’s posted a .474 on-base percentage thanks in part to 23 free bases thus far through 36 games. If the season ended today, would have a career best in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. With just seven strikeouts through 36 games, she is well under pace for the past two seasons on her way to a career low in that category.
- In Charlotte on Feb. 24, became the 17th Gamecock in program history to bring home 100 or more RBI in a career in the 15-1 victory in five innings over Winthrop. Currently in her career she is 12th in runs scored, tied for fourth in home runs, 10th in RBI, and tied for 8th in hit by pitches. Is also standing strong with the second-base on-base percentage for a career in school history. (4/4)
- Received plenty of attention at the start of the 2019 season, as she was named to the Preseason All-SEC Team and selected to the USA Softball Top-50 Watch List for Player of the Year.
- Mackenzie Boesel couldn’t have asked for a much better sophomore year, as she became just the 10th Gamecock in program history to be named an Academic All-American as well as her selection to the All-SEC Second Team (her second All-SEC honor of her career).
BETTER LOOK INTO MAGUIRE
- Kenzi Maguire is batting a .307 thus far through 36 games with a career best slugging percentage (.509). Over the course of her career, Maguire is batting .301 in 159 games with 139 hits (39 of which have gone for extra bases) with a .409 on-base percentage.
- Just eight doubles away from entering the top 15 for most doubles in a career as of 4/4. Notably became the school record holder for hit by pitches in a career on March 10 against Kentucky with No. 47 of her career. Currently has 48, two more than Jana Johns who is in second.
- In 2018, notably had an 11-game hitting streak and 23-game reached base streak, both of which were Carolina bests for the year.
- Was named to the All-SEC Second Team, All-Region Second Team, SEC Player of the Week for the first time in her career (4/10) and had the SEC Defensive Play of the Year in the win over Mississippi State (4/28).
BETTER LOOK INTO CLARK
- Senior Kennedy Clark brings plenty of experience to the outfield and plate for the Gamecocks after having started 204 games over her career, by far the most in the outfield right now for South Carolina’s group of overall young outfielders.
- Was hitting .475 with 19 hits and 16 RBI during the team’s 15-game winning streak at the start of the year. Notably hit .529 with seven RBI in the five wins at the USF Tournament a few weekends ago with a 1.000 slugging percentage. Overall on the season she’s hitting .388 with 38 hits and 21 RBI on her way to a career best in batting average.
- Shined in the postseason last year with four hits in the Columbia Regional and a two-run home run to help the Gamecocks avoid a no-hitter in the first game of the ASU Super Regional.
- Became the 18th Gamecock in program history with 100 or more RBI in a career in the win over Bryant on 3/13.
BETTER LOOK INTO DROTAR
- Shined in the circle for the Gamecocks in 2018 with 21 wins and 16 complete games. Is off to a good start in 2019, as well, posting a 6-4 record to start the year. So far in her career, has a higher batting average (.268) than opposing hitters are batting against her (.252) in the circle.
- Off to a career-year kind of start at the plate in 2019, hitting .300 with 30 hits and 32 RBI. Hasn’t been far off in the circle, either, striking out 39 batters in contrast to just 28 walks in 67.0 innings of work thus far while holding batters to a .251 batting average.
- 10 multi-RBI games (one of just three Carolina players to do so) in 2018.
- Was named to the All-SEC Tournament Team, as well as the Second-Team All-Region squad last year.
BETTER LOOK INTO JOHNS
- Named SEC Player of the Week for the first time in her career on 2/25 after going 10-for-11 with at least one single, double, triple and home run the previous four games.
- As of 4/4, is batting .385 (career best) with 37 hits (16 of which have gone for extra-base hits) with 28 RBI and a crazy .719 slugging percentage.
- Led the Gamecocks with 28 hit by pitches (program record) which paced the SEC on the year in 2018. Tied for second now at 46.
- Was named the SEC Freshman of the Week twice and to the All-SEC Freshmen and Defensive Teams in 2018.
GAMECOCKS VS. RANKED OPPONENTS
- South Carolina is 135-315-1 (.293) against opponents ranked in the NFCA top 25 since 1995.
- Broken down by site, the Gamecocks are 63-101 (.358) at home, 30-146 (.154) on the road and 43-67-1 (.407) in neutral-site outings.
- Last season, the Gamecocks went 8-14 against ranked teams, including an 8-1 record in home games. The Gamecocks notably swept Tennessee and Mississippi State in home series against ranked teams last year. The Gamecocks also took two of three games against Arkansas, as well.
- In road games, the Gamecocks notably won a road series at Ole Miss to star the SEC season and earned their first win over Texas A&M since 2015.
MUST WIN AT HOME! AND THE GAMECOCKS DO
- South Carolina is 161-77 (.665) at home during the Beverly Smith era, which does not include a 4-1 record at home while hosting a regional at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
- The Gamecocks have lost more than 10 games at home in a single season just three times in her eight years.
- Carolina has finished .500 or better at home seven of Beverly Smith’s nine years.
- South Carolina has not lost double digit games at home in six years, and has won 20 or more the past five seasons.