Gamecocks host seven games, set to play one at Chesterfield HS
Last a head coach at Menlo College, Lisle has built a large following online
Gamecocks earn first ranking in final poll under Beverly Smith
Smith will be a part of three nights of coverage from the SEC Network’s studio in Charlotte
First pitch for Sunday's championship game against No. 2 national seed Arizona is at 7 p.m. EDT
South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Mercer | 4/13/17 | Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field
Shots from the Gamecocks' 3-1 win over Mercer on April 13, 2017
Shots from the Gamecocks 7-2 win over the No. 1/2 Seminoles, 4/14/17
Softball vs. Florida (3/18/17-3/19/17)
Photos, by Juan Blas, during South Carolina's 8-2 win over the College of Charleston in the 2017 Gamecock Invitational
South Carolina has seen its star rise again in the collegiate softball world, and head coach Beverly Smith has guided that process since arriving as head coach in July of 2010. She oversees all aspects of the program and works most closely on the field with the pitchers. As a head coach, Smith's overall record is 229-179, becoming only the second Gamecock softball coach with over 100 career wins.
From 2013-17, Smith has guided the Gamecocks to five-consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, making the regional championship round on three occasions. The team has improved its final RPI from the NCAA from 37 in 2013 to 22 in 2017, while SC matched or exceeded its win total from the previous year in the first four campaigns for the run, rising to 38 in both 2015 and 2016. The team's offense has posted some of its strongest seasons during Smith's tenure, setting 25 team program records in her seven years at the helm. In the per-game team records, Smith's group holds eight of the 16 tracked. Gamecock pitching has improved markedly during that same tenure. From 2013-15, Smith's staff improved its strikeout-to-walk ratio in each season, while the 2016 and 2017 groups posted the program's first earned-run average under 3.00 since 2008 (2.82 in 2016, 2.96 in 2017).
Many Gamecocks have broken out with their hard work under the watchful eye of Smith and her coaching staff. The 2017 breakout star proved to be Mackenzie Boesel. She led the Gamecock offense in most categories, including setting a program mark for a rookie with 10 home runs and a .441 on-base percentage. The 2017 Southeastern Conference All-Freshman Team honoree also garnered third-team All-Southeast Region honors from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). In 2016, Kaylea Snaer led NCAA Division I in doubles and broke the Gamecocks' and SEC's single-season marks, settling at 27 on the year. Alaynie Page set five single-season records, including a new program record of 15 home runs for a Gamecock during her 2015 NFCA First-Team All-America campaign, the first for a Gamecock under Smith. Tiara Duffy also earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors in 2015. In 2014, Ashlyn Masters posted 15 single-season top-15 marks, including setting what was a new record of 0.34 doubles per game en route to NFCA Second-Team All-Southeastern Region accolades. Snaer and Nickie Blue also earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors during the year, with Blue leading the nation in saves as well as making the inaugural NFCA Division I Freshman of the Year watch list.
In Smith's first three years, Samie Garcia paced the team at the plate in many regards. As a senior, Garcia gained 2013 First-Team Easton All-America recognition after hitting .397 on the campaign. The year prior, Lauren Lackey earned second-team Easton All-America honors, hitting .401 on the year, becoming the seventh Gamecock to hit .400 during a season. Page, Garcia and Lackey all gained All-SEC honors under Smith's leadership during their career.
Two Gamecocks have moved onto the National Pro Fastpitch circuit. Garcia spent three years in the league with the NY/NJ Comets and the Pennsylvania Rebellion, getting drafted by the Comets in the fourth round of the 2013 College Draft. Page played for the NPF's 2016 champs, the Chicago Bandits.
Not only have pros come from Smith's time at South Carolina, but she's also developed a coaching tree six years in. Two of her former players and graduate assistant managers, Ashley Chastain and Kaela Jackson, serve on the Michigan State staff, while two former volunteer assistants are assistant coaches at big-name schools (Laura Trout, Illinois; Chrissy Schoonmaker, UConn). In all, six former players or staff members are coaching elsewhere.
The 2013 Gamecocks advanced into postseason play for the first time under Smith, earning spots in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. The Gamecocks set six team offensive records during the 34-25 campaign, including topping home run record set in 2012. The team scored a record 338 runs, held a .384 on-base percentage and slugged at a .450 clip. Closing the regular season with six wins in nine games, five coming on the road in SEC play, Smith led South Carolina to the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2007, where the Gamecocks defeated Kentucky in the first round. From there, the Gamecocks went to the Austin Regional, where they advanced to championship Sunday with two wins.
Samie Garcia became the second Gamecock under Smith to garner Easton All-America accolades, taking a first-team spot in 2013. Garcia also made the All-SEC second team, joining Lauren Lackey as Gamecocks under Smith to earn both honors. Garcia also garnered a selection in the fourth round of the National Pro Fastpitch Draft, the first Gamecock under Smith to receive that distinction. Two of Smith's pitchers earned one of the SEC weekly awards in 2013 as well. In three years, Smith's teams have broken or re-broken 11 raw offensive team records. In per-game stats, Smith's teams now hold eight of the 16 categories tracked in the record book. As a head coach, Smith's overall record is 83-87.
In 2012, South Carolina set three offensive records, with Lackey and Chelsea Hawkins both being named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Southeast Region second team. The 2011 squad made a 15-game improvement in Smith's first year, improving in nearly every statistical category. The pitchers under Smith lowered the team ERA by over 1.50 runs and gave up 53 less hits in 60 more innings of work.
Prior to coming to South Carolina, Smith served as the top assistant at North Carolina, working mostly with the pitchers and catchers. The final three years, she was the associate head coach after nine as an assistant. Smith helped the Tar Heels to two Atlantic Coast Conference titles in 2001 and 2008 and eight of their nine NCAA Tournament appearances. She served as the lead recruiter for the Tar Heels during that time, helping to bring in five All-Americans into the UNC program. She also helped North Carolina achieve a top-25 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll at least once per season from 2006-10.
She coached a pitching staff that ranked in the top 10 in the nation in ERA in three of her final four seasons at North Carolina. The 2010 squad finished 16th in NCAA Division I with a 1.92 ERA. Her top pupil was three-time All-American and two-time ACC Player of the Year Danielle Spaulding. During her final three seasons, Spaulding finished in the nation's top six in strikeouts per seven innings. In 2010, Spaulding was the toughest pitcher in the country to hit against, as she yielded just 2.61 hits per seven innings. In 2009, Spaulding led the country with 14.3 strikeouts per seven innings.
Smith also guided Crystal Cox to All-America honors, making the third team in 2006 after claiming ACC Rookie of the Year honors in 2003. Amber Johnson also garnered second-team All-ACC accolades during her time under Smith. In total, five of her pitchers claimed 10 all-league honors.
Her pitchers have also gone onto success as professional athletes and in coaching. Lisa Norris, a former All-ACC pitcher for Smith, took the 2010 NPF Diamond Sports Pitcher of the Year award for the pro league. Both Spaulding (Texas A&M) and Norris (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) hold pitching coach jobs with NCAA Division I teams. Smith's catchers also stood out in the ACC, with three claiming all-conference honors. Ally Blake and Brittany McKinney claimed spots in 2010 and 2009, respectively, while Natalie Anter made the list four times from 1999-2002. Anter also played in the 2004 Athens Olympics with the Italian national team.
Born in Asheboro, N.C., and raised in Houston, Texas, Smith spent two years at the University of Houston, starting in the academic office before working as the athletics department's marketing coordinator. She played and served as an assistant coach for the Tampa Bay FireStix of the Women's Pro Softball League in 1997. During this time, she also coached Episcopal High School in Bellaire, Texas, to three state titles and a state runner-up spot (1995-98).
A standout player for head coach Donna Papa before joining her staff, Smith was the 1994 ACC Player of the Year. A dual threat, Smith still ranks ninth in Tar Heel history in slugging percentage, second in triples, third in RBI, fifth in shutouts and seventh in ERA. Smith was honored as one of the top 50 softball players in ACC history during the league's 50th-anniversary celebration in 2002.
In addition to her coaching, Smith has been a speaker/clinician at many camps and conventions. She graduated from North Carolina in 1994 with a double major in speech communications and political science.
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