Gamecocks Open 2023 Softball Season at Charlotte Invitational
Countdown to Opening Day
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The South Carolina softball team kicks off the 2023 season when the Gamecocks travel north for the Charlotte Invitational February 9-12. Carolina will play five games in the tournament, facing off with the host 49ers twice, while also taking on ETSU, Miami (OH), and Campbell. Both games against Charlotte will be broadcast on ESPN+.
- The 2023 season will be the 50th season of Carolina Softball.
- Carolina played three of the teams last season, the lone exception being Campbell.
- The Gamecocks opened the season on the road for the first time since 2019.
- South Carolina has opened the season on the road in 6 of 13 seasons under Smith.
- The roster features 25 total players, with of seven different states represented.
- The Gamecocks were picked to finish 13th in the SEC Preseason Coaches’ poll.
Charlotte Invitational Schedule
South Carolina Gamecocks
Coach: Beverly Smith | 13th Season
Returning AVG Leader: .313 | Riley Blampied
Returning RBI Leader: 36 | Jordan Fabian
Returning Home Run Leader: 9 | Jordan Fabian
Returning ERA Leader: 2.96 | Rachel Vaughan
Returning Strikeout Leader: 71 | Bailey Betenbaugh
Returning Wins Leader: 7 | Leah Powell
Charlotte 49ers – C-USA
When: February 9 | 6 p.m.; February 12 | 3 p.m.
Series History: South Carolina leads 44-6
Last Meeting: Charlotte 6, South Carolina 1 | February 16, 2022 | Columbia
Coach: Ashley Chastain | 4th Season
Returning AVG Leader: .381 | Bailey Vannoy
Returning RBI Leader: 58 | Bailey Vannoy
Returning Home Run Leader: 24 | Bailey Vannoy
Returning ERA Leader: 3.99 | Amelia Wiercioch
Returning Strikeout Leader: 82 | Madelyn Wright
Returning Wins Leader: 10 | Madelyn Wright
Miami (Ohio) Redhawks – Mid-American
When: February 10 | 12:30 p.m.
Series History: South Carolina leads 8-1
Last Meeting: Miami 5, South Carolina 0 | February 25, 2022 | Columbia
Coach: Kirin Kumar | 3rd Season
Returning AVG Leader: .413 | Karli Spaid
Returning RBI Leader: 70 | Karli Spaid
Returning Home Run Leader: 28 | Karli Spaid
Returning ERA Leader: 3.78 | Brianna Pratt
Returning Strikeout Leader: 170 | Brianna Pratt
Returning Wins Leader: 19 | Brianna Pratt
Campbell Camels – Big South
When: February 11 | 5:30 p.m.
Series History: South Carolina leads 13-1
Last Meeting: South Carolina 16, Campbell 7 | February 16, 2019 | Columbia
Coach: Trena Prater | 1st Season
Returning AVG Leader: .322 | Tyra Parker
Returning RBI Leader: 32 | Delaney McDilda
Returning Home Run Leader: 4 | Noemi Cortez
Returning ERA Leader: 1.87 | Isabella Smith
Returning Strikeout Leader: 159 | Isabella Smith
Returning Wins Leader: 15 | Isabella Smith
East Tennessee Buccaneers – SOCON
When: February 12 | 12:30 p.m.
Series History: South Carolina leads 6-0
Last Meeting: South Carolina 6, ETSU 2 | April 9, 2022 | Columbia
Interim Coach: Cheryl Milligan | 1st Season
Returning AVG Leader: .297 | Cameron Young
Returning RBI Leader: 15 | Sara Muir
Returning Home Run Leader: 2 | Sara Muir
Returning ERA Leader: 4.67 | Whitley Arnott
Returning Strikeout Leader: 91 | Allison Farr
Returning Wins Leader: 5 | Allison Farr
- South Carolina comes into the 2023 season looking to rebound from a 2022 season that saw them miss the postseason for the second straight season.
- Carolina returns an experienced lineup this season, boasting 15 upperclassmen (seven juniors, four seniors, and four fifth-years).
- They’ll also feature 11 underclassmen (six sophomores and five freshmen).
- The Gamecocks welcome five freshmen to the program (Brionna Condon, Hannah Hawley, Jori Heard, Reagan Marchant, and Kyye Ricks).
- Carolina will have seven left-handed batters available in the lineup. It had seven in 2022, nine in 2021, five in 2020, seven in 2019, eight in 2017 and six in 2016. Of the seven left-handed batters, four (Carlie Henderson, Haley Simpson, Kyye Ricks, and Aaliyah White) are listed as slap hitters.
- 14 Georgia natives help make up the Gamecock roster. It’s the most from any single state. For comparison, Georgia has 13 on its roster.
- South Carolina will have at least one student-athlete from the state of California for the 27th-consecutive year dating back to 1994. Sophomores and California natives Marissa Gonzalez and Emma Sellers could continue the tradition on for three decades.
- Carlie Henderson won’t be the first in her family to achieve at a high level in sports. Her grandpa, Billy Shaw, played football at Georgia Tech and went on to play offensive line for nine years with the Buffalo Bills before being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999. Her father, Chip, played baseball at Shorter University and has been the baseball head coach at Calhoun High School for 26 years. He’s won more than 600 games with three state titles (and had eight players drafted into MLB).
- Brooke Blankenship and Giulia Desiderio have actually played for volunteer assistant coach Kevin Maguire before. Their travel ball team was coached by Maguire and was based out of Tampa, Fla.
- Sophomores Natalie Heath and Olivia Cook have been best friends since elementary school. Although they attended different high schools, the two joined the Gamecocks for the 2022 season.
COMING THROUGH THE PORTAL
- The Gamecocks hit the transfer portal in the offseason, bringing in five players that played the 2022 season at the Division I level.
- Aniyah Black spent the last two seasons at Georgia.
- Jen Cummings played two seasons at Washington.
- Brooke Blankenship spent the 2022 season at Florida State.
- Donnie Gobourne played two seasons at Florida Atlantic.
- Natalie Morgan played four seasons at Furman.
- The quintet combined to play 356 games and start 287 times in their previous stops.
SOUTH CAROLINA HISTORICAL RECORD
- South Carolina has played 2,494 games in its softball history, going 1,617-890-7 (.645) in its 49 years of history.
- The Gamecocks have posted 30 or more wins in seven of the past nine full seasons under the direction of head coach Beverly Smith.
- Carolina has protected home well, also, with 17 or more victories coming in friendly confines each of the past eight full years.
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS IS NOTHING NEW FOR SC
- South Carolina is 220-59 (.789) over the past eight years in games outside the SEC. Notable wins include Texas, Penn State, Houston, Arizona State, North Carolina, Florida State, California, Virginia Tech, USF, Long Beach State, Hofstra, Liberty, and UCF.
- Carolina had won 26-straight non-conference games (regular season) before a loss to Texas Tech in the second weekend of the 2020 season.
- New coach in the dugout
- Smith added a new face to the coaching staff for the season, Josh Bloomer.
- Bloomer was named the hitting coach after spending three years at Duke.
- With the Blue Devils, Bloomer helped them to a 111-27 record and was a part of two NFCA Regional Coaching Staffs of the Year (2021 and 2022).
- During the 2022 season, Bloomer’s offense propelled the Blue Devils to a 44-11 record, the No. 12 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and their first Super Regional appearance in program history. Duke’s offense ranked third in the nation in scoring, seventh in home runs and on-base percentage, and eighth in batting average.
- Bloomer came to Durham after seven seasons as the head coach at Louisville Male High School in Louisville, Kentucky, compiling a 458-147-4 mark. He ended his time at Male by guiding his squad to NFCA and Kentucky state titles in 2019. His final team put together a 39-0 record and became the first team from the state of Kentucky to finish a season ranked No. 1 nationally.
For the latest on South Carolina Softball, visit GamecocksOnline.com or follow the team’s social media accounts on Twitter @GamecockSoftbll, Facebook /GamecockSoftball, and Instagram @GamecockSoftball.