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Positive Attitude and Hard Work Make a Difference for Vaughan
Softball  . 

Positive Attitude and Hard Work Make a Difference for Vaughan

by Brad Muller, Director of Content

If attitude is everything then junior pitcher Rachel Vaughan is on her way to making a difference for the South Carolina softball team. After biding her time during her first two seasons, the lefty is emerging as one of the go-to arms in the Gamecocks crowded pitching staff.

“There’s always a positive aspect in anything,” said Vaughan, who is studying Sport and Entertainment Management and has worked at the College Football Sports Hall of Fame in Atlanta when home during breaks for the last year and a half. “I look for the bright side in anything. I could walk four batters in a row, but I think, at least I can come out here and play softball. Days [stink] sometimes. You have family problems or life problems, but you’re always breathing that day, so that’s positive. It’s hard for me to get stuck in the negativity.”
Rachel Vaughan action
After an outstanding prep career at East Coweta High School (Ga.), Vaughan struggled to earn a spot in the circle during her first two years with the Gamecocks as she started only 2 games with 5 appearances overall for 11.1 innings of work.

“It’s really all about timing,” Vaughan said. “Of course, I wanted to come in and play my freshman and sophomore year, but I knew that wasn’t the time that was best for me. I just kept my head down and worked as hard as I could to be the best teammate that I could be because that’s the one aspect I could succeed in during those years. Even now, I just try to be the best teammate I can be.

“It’s very humbling. When I came in my freshman year, I was thinking, ‘holy cow! I don’t think I really belong here. All these people are so good!'”

Through hard work and staying focused, Vaughan is now a regular in South Carolina’s larger than normal pitching staff, with seven hurlers on the roster.  With 2 starts and 3 appearances in the first two weeks of the season, Vaughan is 2-0 with a 1.00 earned run average and holding opposing hitters to a .196 average. While she admits to having some superstitions, such as which sock and shoe she puts on first, it’s been hard work physically and mentally that has helped turn things around.

“I think I’m stronger this year,” Vaughan said.  “My freshman and sophomore year, I had some family things going on as well. This year, I was able to mend those relationships, and mentally, I’m better than I have ever been.  It was just trying to get stronger and building that confidence back up and just working hard.

“My high school coach, Franklin DeLoach, would always say, ‘be a great teammate, play the game the way it’s meant to be played, and have fun doing it.’ I just really took that into my college career, and that’s what has really helped me.”

“We all want to be out there obviously, but we all have each other’s backs.”

It doesn’t matter whether she starts or comes to the circle in relief, Vaughan is happy to be out there with the ball in in her hand.

“Whenever I’m needed!” Vaughan said. “My walk-up song is Miley Cyrus’ ‘Do my thing.’ So, every time I walk out there, I think, I’m just going to go out there and do my thing and get in and get out.”

Vaughan is throwing her drop ball with confidence. She has also worked with head coach Beverly Smith on improving her changeup, and she continues to learn from her teammates as well.

“I feel like I’ve been able to watch and learn from our other pitchers, like (senior) Kelsey (Oh) and KK (graduate student Cayla Drotar),” Vaughan said. “I’ve learned how they carried themselves, so they’re kind of like mentors.

“KK and I have built our relationship since my freshman year. It’s been cool to see how our relationship has grown. She helps me when I’m in the bullpen or I’ll help her. We just piggyback off of each other. We’re similar style pitchers as far as drop ball pitchers go.” 

With several younger pitchers on staff this year, she also plays a role in advising them in how to adjust to college softball.

“Just keep working hard. College is so different than anything you’ve ever expected.  Just keep working hard and trusting your stuff. You’re here for a reason.

“We all want to be out there obviously, but we all have each other’s backs. I like having a staff. It keeps us healthier.”

Vaughan wants to win as much as anybody, but she has learned that a good attitude can go a long way in making a difference, on and off the field.

“It’s like my high school coach used to say: ‘nobody is going to remember your stats. They’re only going to remember how you treated them, and if you’re a great teammate.'”