Donnie Gobourne’s pitching career blossomed a little bit later than most, but her transfer to South Carolina was perfect timing to round out a veteran staff that needed a fire-balling complement. Now a senior, Gobourne started playing softball when she was eight years old but didn’t become a full-time pitcher until her first year of college.
“I didn’t start my pitching career until I went to (Santa Fe) junior college,” Gobourne said. “In high school, I was technically a shortstop, and I would throw maybe two or three innings per season. When I went to JUCO, I knew I had to buckle down and focus on pitching more. I was recruited as both, but I wasn’t a fully developed pitcher. Once I got there, my coach called for all the pitchers, and I showed her what I could do. Then we just started working. I wasn’t surprised at how well I did because whenever I did pitch in high school, I was effective.”
She was more than effective in her one season at Santa Fe where she collected 103 strikeouts in 83.2 innings pitched with a 2.83 ERA. Gobourne transferred to Florida Atlantic University where she pitched the last two seasons. Last year, she fanned 89 batters in 64.2 innings (4.33 ERA). Her 9.7 strikeouts per seven innings ranked 24th nationally and led Conference USA with a .192 opponents’ batting average.
After tasting that success and armed with a fastball that she says has been clocked in the mid-70s, she wanted to test her skills at the highest level.
“I came on my visit, and I liked the area, but I really chose South Carolina because of the program, Coach Bev (Smith), and the other coaches,” Gobourne said. “I could see that they really wanted the best for me and wanted me to succeed.
“Staying consistent in the weightroom and staying healthy are keys for me. Working with Coach Bev has really helped me. She does a lot of drills to help me stay on my plane and stay level and make sure I’m balanced. I can definitely work on my changeup more and be more accurate.”
“Every outing isn’t always going to be the best, but I just remind myself of what I’m capable of doing.”
Gobourne wants to make the most of her talent, and later help others make the most of theirs. The criminal justice major plans to come back and be a graduate assistant with the program to continue her education after this year. She hopes to work with children for her career.
“I would like to be a juvenile counselor and give back to my community,” Gobourne said. “Growing up, I was surrounded by a lot of people who had a lot of talent, and they went in the wrong direction. One wrong move, and they weren’t able to do what I’m doing now. It helps me remember how lucky and how blessed I am.”
Gobourne and her two older sisters were raised primarily by her mother, Shondra, since the age of four after her parents separated. She still talks to her dad often and looks up to her mom for what she has done for her and her sisters.
“She is an assistant manager in a cafeteria,” Gobourne said. “She has always made sure that I’m on track and have everything that I’ve needed. The toughest part was seeing my mom struggle. She always made sure that we had what we needed, and she made all the ends meet. She keeps me going and keeps me motivated. She always tells me to look at the bigger picture. We talk just about every day.”
As she prepares for the season, she looks forward to the challenge of playing in the SEC.
“I like seeing the fans faces when they see me pitch,” Gobourne said. “That’s my favorite. Personally, I like striking everybody out. I just go in there with the mentality that I just know that I’m better than whomever I’m playing against. I always stay optimistic when I’m on the mound. I just focus on the next play and the next pitch. Every outing isn’t always going to be the best, but I just remind myself of what I’m capable of doing.”