Gamecocks Face Charleston Southern at Home in Tuesday Doubleheader
GAMECOCKS FACE CHARLESTON SOUTHERN AT HOME IN TUESDAY DOUBLEHEADER
Finishing the eight-day stretch of non-conference games, South Carolina (25-18) and Charleston Southern (22-29) play a doubleheader on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
Brad Muller and former All-American Megan Matthews Buning will have the call on SEC Network + on Watch ESPN. Live stats will be provided at Gamecocks.StatBroadcast.com.
GAMECOCKS POST VICTORY VS. NO. 1/2 FLORIDA STATE
The biggest SC Softball victory in 15 years occured on Fri., April 14, when the Gamecocks downed No. 1/2 Florida State 7-2.
It’s the fourth time in history South Carolina has beaten the top team in the country and the first time since 2002 NCAA Regionals in Columbia, when SC forced the “if” game against No. 1 UCLA with a 2-1 win (May 19, 2002).
The Gamecocks tallied seven run against the nation’s eighth-best pitching staff in ERA, the most allowed by FSU this year, and SC raised Jessica Burrough’s ERA by 0.20 runs (0.57 to 0.77).
Junior Alyssa VanDerveer went 3-for-4 with a two-run homer, while fellow junior Tiara Duffy knocked in the game-winning run with her three-run blast that put SC on top for good.
OFFENSE FACING OFF AGAINST SOME OF THE BEST PITCHING IN THE COUNTRY
South Carolina’s offense has squared off against the top 100 teams in ERA according to the NCAA Division I stat rankings on 29 occasions already (as of April 16).
This weekend, the Gamecocks face the 18th-ranked team in ERA, Auburn.
The Gamecocks have had success against other top pitching teams, including scoring seven runs against USC Upstate, which stands eighth in ERA, and 14 at Alabama, the most a visitor has scored in a single game against the Crimson Tide, who is 10th in the rankings..
South Carolina has tallied the most runs against these teams: Ohio (10), Presbyterian (14), Indiana (13), Tennessee (9), Alabama (14) and Florida State (7)..
Overall, the Gamecocks have gone 12-17 against top-100 ERA teams, hitting .261 in those games.
BLUE STARTING TO CLIMB GAMECOCK PITCHING CHARTS
Senior Nickie Blue claimed South Carolina’s saves record, her 19th, with a two-inning shutout showing on Fri., Feb. 24 against North Dakota State.
Her most recent save against USC Upstate (3/15) moved her into the top five in NCAA Division I history in career saves.
The ace of the staff posted her best start of the year at No. 9/9 Alabama, holding the Tide to two hits without issuing a walk in the shutout win, which garnered her SEC Pitcher of the Week honors, the second of her career.
Blue’s also moved up South Carolina’s lists in innings pitched, wins, shutouts and strikeouts in 2017.
She’s producing ground outs at a 63-percent rate this season (156-90), in line with her career mark, which stood at 62 percent entering the season (777-472).
This year, Blue’s held foes to a .135 batting average (26-of-193) when she gets to two strikes.
Blue became the fourth Gamecock pitcher in history with back-to-back 200-inning years, joining Angie Lear (1990-91), Darlene Gareis (3 years, 1992-94) and Megan Matthews (4 years, 1999-2002) on that list.
In 2015, Blue posted over 200 innings in the circle and an ERA under 2.00, one of two in the SEC to post such numbers (Lauren Haeger of Florida the other).
SNAER BACK TO THREATEN MORE RECORDS
Senior first baseman Kaylea Snaer entered her senior year ranking first in SC history in doubles per game and walks per game and second in RBI per game.
She had her career-best 24-game reached-base streak, the best for SC since Alaynie Page’s 21-game stretch in 2015, end against No. 2/1 Florida (3/18).
Moved to the leadoff spot at No. 14/13 Tennessee, Snaer went 6-for-11 with three doubles and a grand slam in the series, helping the Gamecocks win the SEC opener for the first time since 2008.
That helped her leap to third on SC’s career doubles charts and also move up in RBI and total bases .
The senior produced a strong weekend in Texas, hitting a team-best .417 in the four games while blasting her first two home runs of the year along with a double.
This year, she’s posted a walk-off blast in the eighth to down College of Charleston on Feb. 25 to add to her legacy of big hits.
Snaer ended 2016 with 27 doubles, leading the nation and tying for fourth in a single season in NCAA Division I history with five others.
She earned a spot on the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 team, the 17th Gamecock to garner selection.
BLUE, SNAER AMONG NCAA DIVISION I ACTIVE LEADERS
Gamecock seniors Nickie Blue and Kaylea Snaer both rank among NCAA Division I’s active leaders in some statistical categories.
Blue leads the country with 20 career saves, while she’s fourth in appearances (165).
Snaer stands fifth in career doubles with 54.
The duo both hold NCAA season statistical plaques: Snaer for doubles in 2016 and Blue for saves in 2014.
GAMECOCK PITCHING POSTING SOLID RESULTS
In February, South Carolina’s pitching tallied eight shutouts, tying 2014 for the most in the 2000s during the first month of the season.
Senior Jessica Elliott tossed the first solo no-hitter in seven years with her five-inning blanking of Winthrop in the first game of Feb. 28’s doubleheader.
On three occasions, Gamecock starters have tallied one-hitters, and three more two-hitters are also in the books.
Both Elliott and fellow senior Nickie Blue have six complete games and four shutouts each.
Freshman Cayla Drotar has two complete-game shutouts as well, which includes a one-hitter in her debut against Presbyterian.
TWO FRESHMEN MAKING IMPACT EARLY IN 2017
Freshmen Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar have played pivotal roles in South Carolina’s success so far in 2017.
Boesel has produced with a team-best six home runs and .454 on-base percentage to go with 25 RBI, which ranks second.
The March 6 SEC Freshman of the Week, Boesel posted a .550 batting average, two home runs and eight RBI in the prior seven games, including a three-run blast against No. 20/20 Arizona State.
She also drove in both Gamecock runs in the contest against No. 7/8 UCLA with her double.
Boesel’s six home runs is tied for fourth for a Gamecock freshman, two shy of Kaylea Snaer’s record.
A three-time South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, Drotar, in her first career start against Presbyterian, twirled a one-hitter.
That beginning harkens back to another in-state pitcher’s debut back in 2011, when Julie Sarratt no-hit Coastal Carolina in her first go in the circle on Feb. 12, 2011.
Drotar also tossed the first five innings and picked up the win in the victory over No. 1/2 Florida State on April 14.
COMEBACKS BECOMING REGULAR OCCURRENCE FOR GAMECOCKS
South Carolina has come from behind to capture a win seven times already this season.
Five other times, the Gamecocks have picked up a walk-off win, twice in extra innings.
Last season, the Gamecocks won seven games entering the seventh either tied or down, and this year’s team has five, more than halfway to that mark.
THE SCHEDULE HAS NEVER BEEN TOUGHER
The 2017 schedule is the toughest compiled to date by head coach Beverly Smith.
The Gamecocks are set to play 33 of their 56 regular-season games against teams who made the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina is scheduled to play at least one NCAA Tournament team each weekend except for one: the SEC trip to Mississippi State, who ended 2016 with a 39 RPI and was ineligible for postseason play (26-31 record).
On the docket are 15 games against Women’s College World Series teams and another three against last year’s top seed in the NCAA Tournament (and defending SEC champs), Florida, who lost in super regional play to Georgia.
A total of 45 of the Gamecocks’ scheduled games come against teams that finished in the top 100 of the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index last year. Of those, 41 are against the top-76 teams and 33 are versus the top 50.
The Gamecocks play four defending regular-season conference champs: Florida (SEC), Florida State (ACC), Longwood (Big South) and North Dakota State (Summit) as well as the Atlantic Sun (USC Upstate) and SEC (Auburn) Tournament champs from 2016.
Of the preseason top 25 in both major polls, the Gamecocks are slated to take on nine of them, including four of the top five and eight of the top 10 (seven in the NFCA poll).
Seven of those nine are in SEC play, accounting for 21 games.
South Carolina, who had 13 points in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason poll, also has five games against teams receiving votes in between the two polls.
WHITE LEADING THE OFFENSE IN EARLY PART OF 2017
Krystan White leads the Gamecocks’ offense in RBI (32) and ranks second in batting average (.325).
In her 4-for-4 opening day, three of her four hits went for extra bases: the homer joined with a double against Ohio and another double against Presbyterian.
She also showed her versatility, starting at both second and third while making stellar plays at both.
She added a team-best five RBI during the Texas Invitational, starting all four games.
White moved back to shortstop exclusively starting with the game at North Carolina after an injury to sophomore Kenzi Maguire suffered in Texas forced her out of the lineup.
She’s 6-for-8 with the bases loaded, and her grand slam led the Gamecocks to a 7-5 win over in-state rival USC Upstate (3/15).
This season, she’s hitting a team-best .442 with runners in scoring position and has 14 RBI with two outs, one better than freshman Mackenzie Boesel.
GAMECOCKS FIND SOME SUCCESS IN THE CHALLENGE IN SEC ROAD PLAY
South Carolina has won a road game in its first three SEC trips this season.
The Gamecocks have won games at No. 14 Tennessee and No. 9 Alabama already, marking the first time SC has won games at two different ranked SEC foes since 2004 (at No. 4 LSU, 3/13; at No. 13 Alabama 4/17).
South Carolina has one trip left in SEC play to Georgia, who has been ranked every week thus far.
The win in Knoxville was the first in 16 tries, with the last win coming in a series sweep April 2-3, 2002.
That victory also stands as SC’s first in an SEC opener since 2008.
Meanwhile, the Gamecocks recorded the most runs by a foe at Alabama in history in the 14-0 win in the series’ second game.
It was the first win in Tuscaloosa since that 2004 contest mentioned earlier, ending an 18-game skid at Rhoads Stadium.
The Gamecocks got a shutout from Nickie Blue to down Mississippi State in the series opener.
SOME WIN-LOSS BREAKDOWNS
In wins, South Carolina has 116 free base runners via walks (88) and HBPs (28) against 49 in losses.
The Gamecocks have only had 22 chances with runners on third and less than two outs in the 18 losses.
Those numbers equate to 38 runs in 18 losses compared to 161 in 25 wins.
The Gamecocks have 19 productive outs (10 SF, 9 SH) in wins and only four in setbacks.
In losses, South Carolina runs less (32 SB in W’s, 13 in L’s) and commit more errors (26 in 18 losses, 18 in 25 wins).
When Gamecock pitching keeps leadoff runners from reaching at least half the time, SC is 20-10.
In wins, the pitchers hold better strikeout-to-walk ratios (123:70 in wins, 70:87 in losses).
Sixteen of the 19 home runs allowed came in Gamecock losses, while 14 of the 21 wild pitches have come in those same games.
SOUTH CAROLINA SOFTBALL HISTORICAL RECORD
South Carolina has played 2,228 games in its softball history, going 1441-780-7 (.648) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
SCOUTING CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
The Buccaneers come in with a 22-29 record and are tied for third in the Big South standings.
This team digs the long ball, hitting 59 this season, led by Jade Gandara’s 15 and helped by 11 from Caitlyn Emberson and seven each from Cheyenne Gandara and Mallory Kasinger.
Those round-trippers may come with a cost; the Bucs have fanned 263 times.
Jade Gandara leads CSU in many offensive categories, including doubles (16), homers and RBI (52).
Stevi Johnson has nine doubles, five homers and 14 sacrifice bunts to go with a .467 on-base percentage, tops on the team in the latter two categories.
Emberson hits the ball hard (10 doubles, 11 homers) and gets on base at a .465 rate, thanks to 19 walks and a team-high 25 hit-by-pitches.
Pitchers also have to pay attention to Brittany McPherson, with her 15 walks and 14 HBPs.
Amanda Matsumoto leads the team with half of the Bucs’ 58 stolen bases while hitting .302.
In the circle, Cheyenne Gandara leads the team in innings (120.2), ERA (3.02) and strikeouts (95).
Both Holly Clark and Arizona Pilgrim have tossed 90 innings or more innings, with foes hitting .286 against both.
COMMON FOES OF THE GAMECOCKS AND BUCCANEERS
Both Charleston Southern and South Carolina have played five other Palmetto State teams as well as one from North Carolina.
The Buccaneers are 6-9 against the six common foes, beating Coastal 2-1, Presbyterian once and winning two Big South three-game series vs. Gardner-Webb and Winthrop, two games in each.
CSU lost twice to USC Upstate and all three to College of Charleston.
Against those same teams, South Carolina is 8-1, falling only to Coastal last Tuesday.
TIES BETWEEN SOUTH CAROLINA AND CHARLESTON SOUTHERN
Buc freshman Summer Moore hails from the same SoCal A’s group that produced four Gamecocks: Kaylea Snaer, Hayley Copeland, Kennedy Clark and Mackenzie Boesel.
CSU senior Amanda Matsumoto and sophomore Destini Ewing played with the same Beverly Bandits’ travel-ball team that produced SC junior Jordyn Augustus.
Both freshmen, SC’s Cayla Drotar and CSU’s Holly Clark were a part of the NC Lady Lightning teams.
SC SERIES HISTORY VS. THE BUCCANEERS
The Gamecocks hold a 16-2 advantage in the series against Charleston Southern, including a 10-1 mark in games in Columbia.
GAMECOCKS LOVE HOME COOKING AT CAROLINA SOFTBALL STADIUM AT BECKHAM FIELD
South Carolina holds a 17-6 home record, and the team’s numbers reflect the better play at home.
The team has a .975 fielding percentage on the finely-maintained surface of Beckham Field (thanks to Marcus Thurber and crew), compared to .953 mark in the 20 games away from home.
The pitcher’s strikeout-to-walk ratio is markedly better (121:87 at home, 72:70 away/neutral) as well as the opponent batting average (.207 to .274).
Senior Jessica Elliott (2.29 ERA at home, 4.45 ERA away) has been better at Carolina Softball Stadium and has shown better control (53:31 K:BB ratio at home, 30:44 away).
Nine of the 12 shutouts have come at home.
SC natives Krystan White (.368/.449/.579 at home, .286/.366/.333 away) and Victoria Williams (.345/.424/.600 at home, .233/.281/.333 away) enjoy the home feel the most.
GAMECOCKS DOMINATING IN-STATE COMPETITION
Under Beverly Smith, South Carolina owns a 46-7 mark against other Palmetto State schools.
That includes a 31-game winning streak that stretched over five seasons that Coastal snapped on April 11.
This year, SC natives Krystan White (.478/.536/.739) and Victoria Williams (.375/.407/.792) have excelled against this group, while the team is hitting .327 against them.
Senior Jessica Elliott has thrown three shutouts vs. SC teams, include her no-hitter against Winthrop (2/28) and one-hitters vs. Presbyterian (2/12) and Furman (3/28).
GAMECOCKS KNOW A LOT ABOUT THE BIG SOUTH
The proximity of the Big South Conference schools to Columbia lends to South Carolina playing many of its members in non-conference competition.
Charleston Southern stands as the fifth and final Big South foe to venture to Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field this year after defending league champ Longwood, Presbyterian, Winthrop and Gardner-Webb.
The Gamecocks are 103-13-1 all-time against the eight current league members that sponsor softball, including 6-0 this season.
GAMECOCKS HAVE A RICH NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY
South Carolina earned its 19th bid in the NCAA Tournament in 2016, the fourth straight under head coach Beverly Smith.
The Gamecocks are 37-41 in those trips, making three NCAA Women’s College World Series in their history (1983, 1989 and 1997).
The program has five AIAW World Series trips in its history as well prior to 1982.
Last season’s regional was SC’s fourth trip to a regional in Tallahassee and the third-straight year the Gamecocks drove to Florida’s capital city.
GAMECOCKS OFF THE DIAMOND
The Gamecocks post their third-highest team GPA in the past 10 years last spring (3.456).
Fourteen Gamecocks garnered NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2015-16, the most under Beverly Smith.
Kaylea Snaer became the 17th Gamecock selected to CoSIDA’s Academic All-District team in 2016, a year after Victoria Williams made the squad.
Off the 2016 roster of 20 students, 17 Gamecocks earned SEC Academic Honor Roll nods.
The softball team has won the department’s Community Outreach Team of the Year twice under Bev Smith in 2011 and 2013.
Former Gamecocks have played a big part in helping out the Louisville Slugger Warriors team made up of former military veterans.
SOUTH CAROLINA STAFF HAS TOP CREDENTIALS
Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith has been a part of 12 NCAA Tournament teams as a coach (eight at UNC, four at South Carolina).
Associate head coach Lisa Navas has been to six NCAA Tournaments as an assistant coach (four at SC, one each at UNC and Missouri) and eight as a head coach (six Division II at Barry, two at NC State). Her 1998 Barry squad played in the national championship game.
Navas has been selected to be a part of the 2017-19 USA Softball Women’s National Team coaching pool alongside 21 other coaches.
Assistant coach Calvin Beamon has three titles to his credit as a player, the biggest a College World Series title at Texas during 2005.
He also won the NJCAA Division I title in 2003 at the College of Southern Nevada and a high school state championship at Smoky Hill High School in Cherry Creek, Colo.
Volunteer assistant Matt Stewart worked the past three years at Florida, serving as a manager for both of the Gators’ national title wins.
GAMECOCK NEWCOMERS, SIGNEES HAVE LOADS OF ACCOLADES, ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Many Gamecocks have won awards at South Carolina, but the high school accolades continue to raise the specter of Bev Smith’s recruiting classes.
This year’s freshman class has two high school All-Americans on it: Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar.
The team also added its third NJCAA All-American under Bev Smith, signing Shannon Plese out of Chattanooga State.
Plese follows in the footsteps of former Tigers Melissa Hendon and Kaela Jackson (herself a former NJCAA All-American) and joins 2015 NJCAA Pitcher of the Year Jessica Elliott on the roster.
Drotar also claimed the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year award the past three seasons, and next year, two-time New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year Kelsey Oh will join her.
Meanwhile, Gamecock signee Alex Fulmer has racked up notoriety on the baseball diamond, playing for the last two years with the USA Baseball Women’s National Team.
She played on teams that won the 2015 Pan American Games gold medal as well as the consolation bracket of the 2016 World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup.
Fulmer and Oh were joined by Jana Johns, Victoria Galvan and Alyssa Kumiyama in the 2018 signing class. Morgan Davis and Anna Vest also joins that group in the fall.
Leading the Gamecocks’ 14 returners is the senior pitching duo Nickie Blue and Jessica Elliott.
The duo combined for all 61 starts, 390.1 innings, 246 strikeouts, 37 wins and all eight saves.
Six position player starters return for the Gamecocks from last year’s squad.
South Carolina lost five students who combined to start 215 games, including a majority of starts at catcher, second base, left and center field.
The highest percentage lost in any offensive category is stolen bases at 75 percent, followed by triples at 66.7 and sacrifice hits at 50.
The Gamecocks return around 60 percent of its offense in most other categories, including 74.4 percent of their doubles to 71.7 percent of their home runs.
The top hitter from last year is back, senior Kaylea Snaer, as she led NCAA Division I in doubles and SC in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, RBI and sacrifice flies.
Six newcomers could play in 2017, three signees and three transfers.
Leading the transfers is former first-team All-Big Ten catcher Alyssa VanDerveer (Penn State).
Also transferring in are a pair of award-winning outfielders: two-time 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Week Lauren Stewart (Purdue) and two-time NJCAA All-American Shannon Plese (Chattanooga State).
The Gamecocks hail from 12 states this year, with the newcomers coming from California, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee.
Nickie Blue and Hayley Copeland are the first Gamecock duo who are both over six-feet tall.
While both are Williams’ and seniors by class, Taylor and Victoria are not sisters.
CALI CONNECTION SHOWS OUT IN HOMESTEAD
Six of South Carolina’s players hail from California, including four everyday starters, and that quartet put on a show playing in front of family and friends in the Judi Garman Classic.
Freshman Mackenzie Boesel earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after ranking fifth in the tourney in batting average (.571), posting eight hits, six RBI and four walks.
Senior Kaylea Snaer doubled twice and hit .400 on the trip, moving within a two-bagger of advancing on both the Gamecocks’ career doubles and total-base charts.
Sophomore Kennedy Clark doubled twice in the Indiana win and hit .375 on the weekend.
Junior Kamryn Watts stole a pair of bases while batting .316 in the five games.
Boesel, Snaer and Watts all reached base in all five outings, while Clark did so in the first three.
It was the Gamecocks’ third straight season to play in the Golden State (2015 Mary Nutter Classic, 2016 UCSB Gaucho Classic).
AUGUSTUS PLAYS BIG ROLE IN SC SWEEPING THROUGH GAMECOCK INVITATIONAL
Junior Jordyn Augustus did a little of everything in her four starts during the Gamecock Invitational, helping South Carolina win all four of its games in the event.
With an illness sidelining everyday starter Kamryn Watts on Friday and Saturday, Augustus put on an infielder’s glove and started three games at third base, making two errors in 12 chances.
To close out the weekend-opening win, she fielded three straight balls flawlessly in the seventh.
She brought in the game-winning run in the first outing against North Dakota State with a sacrifice fly before scoring the game-winner in the second outing against the Bison.
In that second game, she put down a bunt single, stole second and scored on Kennedy Clark’s RBI single.
She capped the weekend with a 2-for-2 day, stealing two bases, scoring twice, driving in two runs while reaching base in all four plate appearances, also reaching via walk and hit-by-pitch.
Overall, she batted .429 with a .500 on-base percentage and four stolen bases in the tournament.
GAMECOCKS POST STELLAR OPENING WEEKEND IN CAROLINA CLASSIC
South Carolina showed excellence in every aspect of the 2017 Carolina Classic, going 5-0 in the event.
The five wins pushed head coach Beverly Smith to 200 career victories, a new milestone for the seventh-year boss of the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks won three of the five games in shortened contests, the most ever in an opening week of competition. and matching last year’s Carolina Classic output.
The defense looked outstanding, with several stellar plays coming from the infield, that sports former shortstops in three spots (Maguire, Watts and White as freshman at SC, Boesel in high school).
The team did not commit an error on the weekend, a five-game stretch. Only Toledo was able to match that in NCAA Division I through an opening five-game weekend this season.
Last season, the Gamecocks had one six-game stretch without an error (Feb. 20-26).
That helped the pitchers post a 0.23 ERA, which ranks sixth in NCAA Division I.
The group posted two one-hitters and a shutout streak of 27.2 innings, the longest since a 29-inning stretch in 2014 (Feb. 16-23).
Four straight shutouts began the year, the first time that has been accomplished by a Gamecock team. The 1983, 1984 and 1986 teams all tallied three.
OFFENSIVE RECORDS FALLING REGULARLY FOR GAMECOCKS UNDER SMITH
In head coach Beverly Smith’s first six years, the Gamecocks broke team offensive records 25 times (tracked on page 14 in these notes).
The 2016 team broke the HBP (85) mark and finished second in on-base percentage (.387), tied for second in doubles (82), third in walks per game (2.80), third in sacrifice flies (20) and fourth in walks (171).
Smith’s teams set the home run and slugging percentage records in four-straight seasons (2012-15) and the on-base percentage mark in three straight (2013-15).
While not a record, the Gamecocks have hit .291 over the past six seasons, 75 points higher than the year before Smith came to Columbia.