First pitch of doubleheader set for 3 p.m. at Beckham Field
Junior P.J. Fulmer is tied for the team lead in batting average while ranking third in RBI after the two Valentine's Day wins.
Feb. 15, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
Coming off of two wins in the snow-shortened Palmetto State Showdown, South Carolina continues the homestand against Longwood on Tuesday afternoon. The doubleheader starts at 3 p.m. at Beckham Field in between two programs that have never faced each other.
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.
Bats Show Early Life
While snow kept South Carolina from starting its season as planned, things could not have gone much better for the Gamecocks at the plate on Valentine's Day. The squad combined to hit .455 in the contests against Coastal Carolina and Winthrop while compiling a team OPS of 1.217. While early, the Gamecocks lead the Southeastern Conference in all three rate stats while tying for conference best with nine doubles despite playing less games than everyone else.
Mendes, Walker Lead Gamecocks To Season-Opening Win
Last Remaining Vestiges
Behind two doubles by both senior Lindsay Walker and junior Laura Mendes, the Gamecocks won their first game of the 2010 season over Coastal Carolina. Those four doubles accounted for half of the Gamecocks' total of eight, the most since a six-double outbreak against Mercer on March 5, 2005. The 17 hits were the most since South Carolina recorded 20 in a 15-2 (5 inn.) win over South Dakota State earlier on that same day in `05.
The year 2007 was a magical one for South Carolina softball. The squad won 38 games and advanced into the program's first NCAA Super Regional. From that squad, only two players remain, and both played a significant role on that team. Adele Voigt
and Lindsay Walker
both played in every game that season, with Walker not missing a start at shortstop and Voigt starting all but one game in the outfield.
Back to Bash
Junior Laura Mendes ranks as the top Gamecock hitter returning from last year's squad. Her powerful left-handed bat should once again anchor the lineup, where she hopes to best her eight doubles and two triples from a year ago, both of which led the squad.
Strength Always In The Circle
The Gamecock teams that have gone the farthest have always had strong pitching. While there's only one addition to the pitching staff this year in April Borchardt, who is primarily an outfielder, there are reasons for hope. Returning sophomores Audrey Broyles and Kierstyn White both learned many lessons during their freshman season as they combined to throw 230 of the squad's 312 innings. Rick Pauly has also joined the staff after a successful stint as head coach at Spartanburg Methodist College. A longtime pitching instructor at the high school level, Pauly hopes his methods translate to the top level of collegiate softball.
The Fall's Shining Star
Junior Ashley Chastain came in without a lot of fanfare last year, but she finished the spring with a bang. The winner in the season-ending contest against Kentucky, Chastain continued that momentum into the fall. She won all four games that she pitched in while tossing one complete game. She did not allow an earned run in 22 innings while tying for the team lead in strikeouts. The Georgia native could challenge for the ace role this season.
Lone Star Connection
The Gamecocks brought in three pitchers in the 2009 signing class, but little did they know the connection the trio had. Despite hailing from Florida, South Carolina and Texas, Audrey Broyles, Kelsey Goodwin and Kierstyn White were all born in the Lone Star State. The Florida native Broyles and Goodwin both came into the world in Houston, which is still listed as Goodwin's hometown, while White was born and grew up for a time in San Antonio.
Steady Influence Behind The Plate
Junior catcher P.J. Fulmer has been a solid contributor for two years. She started 43 of the 45 games last season behind the plate, lending leadership to a staff that had four members in their first year in the SEC. She'll be relied upon once again to guide a young staff, as there will be two juniors and three sophomores throwing for the Gamecocks.
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.
Bringing In The Palmetto State's Best
The Gamecocks have been very active recruiting the best from their own state. The 2009 freshman class included Evan Childs and Kierstyn White, while the 2010 rookies include Briana Hamilton and Hannah Milks. The latter duo will get their chances around the infield, with Hamilton possibly getting time at all four positions and Milks concentrating on the left side.