Feb. 9, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina, led by legendary head coach Joyce Compton, look for a return to the SEC Tournament this season. The Gamecocks welcome back six starters and four pitchers from last year's squad.
Only 38.2 innings of work is gone from a staff that showed growth during the fall practice schedule under new pitching coach Rick Pauly. With a different voice to help guide, the staff could return to its place as one of the top in the league historically. Audrey Broyles and Kierstyn White both are back from 10 and nine-win campaigns, respectively, and should blossom under Pauly's tutelage. Junior Ashley Chastain showed tremendous improvement in the fall season and will also play a vital role in the circle.
Six starting position players return, including SEC All-Defensive Team left fielder Adele Voigt and Laura Mendes, who led the team in hitting during SEC play a season ago. Voigt provides speed to the lineup as well as her terrific glove, while Mendes brings left-handed power to the table. The steady play of senior Lindsay Walker and junior P.J. Fulmer also will help steady a lineup that could include two freshmen, Briana Hamilton and Hannah Milks, and junior college transfer April Borchardt. Sophomore Evan Childs is another integral cog of the lineup after leading the team in both home runs and stolen bases during her freshman season.
Schedule Ranks Among The Toughest
Head coach Joyce Compton always assembles a tough schedule for her squads, but the rise of the SEC has helped make that schedule among the toughest in the nation automatically the past few seasons. This year is no exception, as the Gamecocks are slated to face three of the top five and eight of the top 25 teams in the preseason polls this season. The only thing worse than those 20 games against the preseason top 25 is the fact that 14 of those games will come away from Beckham Field. In fact, all 11 games against the preseason top 10 will happen in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Gainesville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.
While facing three of the top five is bad, the Gamecocks have done worse in regular-season play. Twice South Carolina has faced four of the top five teams in the preseason NFCA coaches poll in 2001 and 2003 and three on two more occasions in 1997 and 1999. There will be no sympathy from another SEC member, however, as Auburn is slated to face all five top-five teams this year.
Strength Always In The Circle
The Fall's Shining Star
Not To Be Overshadowed
Last Remaining Vestiges
Back to Bash
Steady Influence Behind The Plate
Fulmer also hopes to improve her game at the plate. After hitting .197 as a freshman, she slumped to .171 as a sophomore. She did hit two more doubles, but that came in nearly 50 more at bats.
Nice Double, Can You Do It Again?
If you go by the fall numbers, Childs could lead the way in many categories. She topped the squad in batting average, doubles and slugging percentage in the eight outings while also hitting the team's only homer of the fall. She did not steal any bases, however, leaving the running to the rest of the team.
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