When she was a kid, South Carolina centerfielder Riley Blampied’s biggest fear was growing up. She handled that pretty well, so when the career infielder was asked to move to the outfield during her junior season, she didn’t sweat it.
“Moving from third base to the outfield was the least of my worries,” laughed Blampied, who was nicknamed “Riley-Bear” as a child and dons a tattoo on her right arm of a teddy bear with an hourglass, and another set of ink which reads “Everything happens for a reason.”
“I got the bear with the hourglass running out to represent that I’m not that little kid anymore. I’m still Riley-Bear to my parents, I guess.
“I grew up playing shortstop and third base a little bit. My freshman and sophomore year here, I played a majority of the time at third base. I started the beginning of last year at third base, and then after a couple of games I got moved to the outfield. It was a big adjustment. I’ve met the wall a couple of times. I played outfield maybe once or twice when I was twelve years old. I saw it as a challenge, and I wanted to achieve there. You have to have a lot more range in the outfield and move a lot more. I was surprised, but I was ready for it. I picture myself as being diverse and think I can play anywhere. I feel at home there this year. I feel prepared.”
“After hours work has always been a big thing for me.”
Blampied has embraced the change and strives to get better in all areas of her game, while setting a personal goal to earn All-SEC honors.
“I have grown defensively with the position change,” Blampied said. “I could be better in being more consistent at the plate. I’m typically in the three-hole in the lineup, which is a big spot. I love having that responsibility. I feel like I can do it even better this year.”
The senior from Cordele, Georgia, has enjoyed a steady career at the plate for the Gamecocks over the previous three years. She led the team in hitting as a sophomore and last year, she led the team in RBI (42), doubles (13), and slugging percentage (.477) and was second on the team in stolen bases with 17 and home runs with seven. Heading into her final season, she is amazed at how quickly the years have passed.
“They’re not lying when they say it will go fast!” said Blampied, who will earn her degree in retail in May and plans on getting a master’s in sport and entertainment management with the hopes of getting into coaching. “It has been a fast four years, but they have been the best years of my life. Many people come and go now with the transfer portal, but I’ve stuck it out, and I couldn’t be happier with my decision.
“What I like about softball is that it is an individual sport in some ways, but it is a team sport. You can’t win on your own.”
South Carolina had a nice run in the SEC Tournament last year and reached the NCAA Tournament after missing the postseason in Blampied’s first two seasons. That success serves as motivation for Blampied and her teammates this year.
“When we set foot on campus last year, we said we were going to make the postseason,” said Blampied. “We made that happen. After hours work has always been a big thing for me. I want every series this year to feel like it did at the SEC Tournament last year. I felt like we were the most competitive team out there.
“We’re here to put South Carolina softball back on the map.”