Softball Set To Host Gamecock Invitational Starting Friday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Coming off coach Beverly Smith’s 400th career win, the South Carolina softball team hosts its final regular season tournament, the Gamecock Invitational, March 3-5. Carolina welcomes in four teams, three of which they have never played, in Columbia, Illinois, North Carolina A&T, and UNCW.
South Carolina Gamecocks 15-2, 0-0 SEC
Coach: Beverly Smith | 13th Season
AVG Leader: .455 | Jen Cummings
RBI Leader: 14 | Riley Blampied and Jen Cummings
Home Run Leader: 5 | Jordan Fabian
ERA Leader: 1.24 | Donnie Gobourne
Strikeout Leader: 44 | Donnie Gobourne
Wins Leader: 5 | Bailey Betenbaugh
Columbia Lions 1-4, 0-0 Ivy League
When: March 3 | 3 p.m.
Series History: First Meeting
Coach: Jennifer Teague | 8th Season
Illinois Fighting Illini 9-5, 0-0 Big 10
When: March 4 | 3 p.m.
Series History: First Meeting
Coach: Tyra Perry | 8th Season
North Carolina A&T Aggies 2-11, 0-0 CAA
When: March 4 | 5:30 p.m.
Series History: First Meeting
Interim Coach: Diego Ibarra | 1st Season
UNCW Seahawks 4-10, 0-0 CAA
When: March 6 | 3 p.m.
Series History: South Carolina leads 7-0
Last Meeting: South Carolina 7, UNCW 5 | April 5, 2016 | Columbia
Coach: Ashley Wade | 1st Season
- The 2023 season will be the 50th season of Carolina Softball.
- Head coach Bev Smith earned her 400th career win Thursday against UNC.
- She became the 29th active head coach in Division I to amass 400 career victories while only coaching at one school.
- The Gamecocks have had offensive explosion recently, ranking 9th in the country in scoring per game (7.59 runs).
- Against Mercer, the Gamecocks hit back-to-back-to-back home runs for the first time under Bev Smith.
- In Saturday’s game against Tennessee Tech, the Gamecocks hit four home runs, which were the most since 2020.
- The 21 runs scored against TTU were the most since 2016.
- Jordan Fabian hit 5 home runs in the last 5 games, including 4 straight games.
- Over the last week, Donnie Gobourne has appeared in five games, totaling 13.0 innings pitched. Of those 35 outs, 26 have been via strikeouts.
- Gobourne ranks 1st in the nation in strikeouts per 7 innings (13.6).
- Her three saves rank fourth in the nation.
- Jen Cummings leads the nation in HBP (9) and is fourth in HBP per game (0.53).
- She ranks fourth in the nation in on-base% (.667) and 67th in average (.455).
- She ranks 21st in slugging percentage (0.939).
- Marissa Gonzalez ranks sixth in the nation in total doubles (7).
- She ranks 53rd in the nation in doubles per game (0.47).
- Gonzalez hit her first career home run, a grand slam, against Western Kentucky on Sunday.
- As a team, Carolina leads the SEC in doubles (32) and fielding percentage (0.981).
- They are fourth in the nation in doubles, ninth in scoring (7.59), 11th in walks (66), 13th in doubles per game (1.88), 14th in on-base% (0.441), 15th in slugging (0.567), and 18th in stolen bases per game (2.35).
- They also rank 13th in winning percentage (0.882).
- Haley Simpson hit a home run against WKU, her first home run in nearly three years (1,086 days) after missing the last two seasons due to injury.
- South Carolina played five consecutive days during week two of the season.
- It was the second time in program history they’ve played on five consecutive days. They played on six straight days in 1987 (March 10-15; 14 games).
- 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.
- Brooke Blankenship hit an inside-the-park home run against Campbell on Feb. 11. It was the first inside-the-park home run since Alaynie Page on February 14, 2015, against the College of Charleston.
- 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.
- The Gamecocks have three players listed among the current active NCAA leaders in hit by pitches.
- Natalie Morgan ranks 13th in DI and 24th overall with 34.
- Jordan Fabian ranks 16th in DI and 33rd among all Divisions with 31.
- Jen Cummings ranks 29th in DI I with 25.
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME
- South Carolina is 227-111 (.672) at home during the Beverly Smith era, which includes a 4-1 record at home while hosting a regional at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
- Carolina has finished .500 or better at home eight of Beverly Smith’s 12 years.
- Prior to 2021, South Carolina had not lost double digit games at home in seven years and has won 20 or more six of the past seven seasons (2020 included).
NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS IS NOTHING NEW FOR SC
- South Carolina is 235-61 (.794) 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.
CAROLINA HOSTS TOURNAMENTS… AND WINS A LOT
- Carolina is an amazing 35-5 over the past seven seasons in the Gamecock Invitational. The 2021 tournament was canceled due to weather.
- The Gamecock pitching staff has shined in the tournaments. In the games during that span, Carolina pitching staffs have allowed three or more runs 12 times. On the flip side, nine games have ended as shutouts.
- Including the Carolina Classic and Black & Garnet Challenge, the Gamecocks are 64-6 in their past 66 home tournament games.
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.