South Carolina looking for first wins in Athens since 2001
Blue sets career high with six strikeouts in the complete-game win
South Carolina has seven games in a row against current top-20 foes
Freshman Nickie Blue picks up first career save; Gamecocks play at 3 and 5:30 PM Sat.
Freshmen Nickie Blue gets the pitching win and Kaylea Snaer hits her first career homer
Shots from the Gamecocks 2-1, come from behind win.
Photos taken during the Gamecocks' 8-0 win in five over Eastern Kentucky on March 11, 2014
Shots from South Carolina's season-opening win over Iowa at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field
Shots from the Gamecocks' 6-3 win over No. 18/15 Kentucky in the first round of the 2013 SEC Softball Tournament
Shots from the Saturday softball contest between the Georgia Bulldogs and the South Carolina Gamecocks.
South Carolina has seen its star rise again in the collegiate softball world, and head coach Beverly Smith has guided that process in her three years as head coach, as she oversees all aspects of the program and works most closely on the field with the pitchers.
The 2013 Gamecocks advanced into postseason play for the first time under Smith, earning spots in both the Southeastern Conference 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.
Smith's Employment Timeline
Smith's Playing Timeline
Smith's Education Timeline