COLUMBIA, S.C. -
Prior to its second home tournament, South Carolina plays host to rival Winthrop on Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m. Gametracker live stats and a live audio stream will be available at GamecocksOnline.com. It will be the second matchup in 11 days at Beckham Field between the squads separated by 75 miles on Interstate 77.
Scouting the Winthrop Eagles
Winthrop comes back to Beckham Field with a 4-3 record, going 2-1 at the rain-shortened Georgia Softball Classic. Chelsea Schoenfeldt leads the team offensively, driving in 10 runs while going 12-for-23 at the plate (.522 average). Megan Chapman is also hitting well with a .467 mark in seven starts, adding a team-best five stolen bases. McKenzie Corn leads the team with eight runs and has not been caught in four stolen-base attempts.
Natalie Becker and Sutton Watson have taken some of Schoenfeldt's load in the circle, with Becker tossing a team-high 27.1 innings. She has struck out 25 and walked 14 while posting a 3.84 ERA. Watson holds a 0.95 ERA in 14.2 innings.
Series History Versus the Eagles
South Carolina is 43-8-1 all-time against their rivals from Rock Hill in a series that dates back to 1975. In games that are known to have been played in Columbia, the Gamecocks are 26-2, splitting the two games at Beckham Field last season and taking the meeting 11 days earlier this year.
Last Meeting vs. Winthrop - Feb. 11, 2012
South Carolina's bats came alive in the top of the first and led the team to an 8-1 win over in-state rival Winthrop in the Gamecocks' second matchup of the day at the Palmetto Classic at Beckham Field. Sophomore Chelsea Hawkins led the Gamecocks with a 2-for-3 day, hitting a homer and driving in four. Junior Hannah Milks went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Sophomore Dana Hathorn and freshman Olivia Lawrence both had 2-for-4 games, with Lawrence posting a double in her first career start. Senior Molly Brossart scored twice as well.
Carolina in the Month of February
In the 20-plus years of starting the season in the second month of the year, Carolina is 152-71-1 (.681) during February. Last year, the Gamecocks went 9-4 during the season's opening month.
Westfall A Double Machine in Early Going . . .
Senior leftfielder Kaitlin Westfall leads the SEC with seven doubles this season, three more than her closest competition. Five came in the Blue & Gold Feisberg Memorial, as she posted two each in wins over Illinois-Chicago and Villanova. Last season, P.J. Fulmer led the team with 10, while Georgia's Megan Wiggins posted 23 to lead the league.
While Lackey Likes Stretching It to Three . . .
Westfall's teammate and fellow outfielder Lauren Lackey posted two triples last weekend, tying for the SEC lead in that category. Lackey is looking to be the first Gamecock since Ashton Payne in 2007-08 to lead the team in triples in consecutive seasons. With two more triples, Lackey would tie for ninth in program history with nine in her career.
Childs Likes to Trot
Senior third baseman Evan Childs has posted three homers on the year, hitting two in the two games on Sunday at Florida International. She's tied for fifth in the league as of Feb. 19. Childs is vying to be the first Gamecock since McKenna Hughes (2004-07) to lead the team in homers twice in her career.
Garcia Grand at FIU
Junior shortstop Samie Garcia led the Gamecocks during the Blue & Gold Feisberg Memorial, posting nine RBI in the event, with four coming on one swing. Her grand slam versus Providence helped propel South Carolina to the 9-1 (5) win. She holds an eight-game hitting streak entering Wednesday's game, one shy of her career best.
South Carolina Defense Downfall in Losses
A common thread runs through the Gamecocks' three losses: defensive errors. In the setbacks, the Gamecocks committed seven errors combined and allowed nine unearned runs. The only game that would stay tied without those runs would be against Tennessee State; the rest would all favor the Gamecocks.
Last season, South Carolina posted 60 errors in 56 games and had a respectable .964 fielding percentage. It made a difference, as South Carolina went 21-19 when making one or no errors. That record fell to 5-7 in games with two errors. When the Gamecocks made three or more errors, they went 0-4.
White Spotless for First Time vs. Illinois-Chicago
Senior pitcher Kierstyn White tossed her first career shutout the trip to Miami. She blanked defending Horizon League champs Illinois-Chicago, coming within two outs of a no-hitter. The two-hit blanking stands out even more, as White tossed 74 pitches in the seven-inning affair. She now has three complete games on the year, the last coming in Sunday's 15-3 win over Villanova.
Quartet Claim Palmetto Classic All-Tourney Honors
South Carolina took home the team title from the Palmetto Classic, and four Gamecocks led the way on the all-tournament team. Senior Kaitlin Westfall claimed MVP honors, leading South Carolina with five RBI on the weekend. Joining her on the team was another senior, Evan Childs, who posted a huge day in the win over Cleveland State. Sophomore Dana Hathorn captured a spot, collecting a hit in each of the four games, while redshirt junior Audrey Broyles also garnered recognition. Broyles had the complete-game win over Western Kentucky, an eight-inning affair.
Broyles Goes the Distance and More
Redshirt junior Audrey Broyles passed a personal milestone in her first start of 2012, tossing 117 pitches in the complete-game victory over Western Kentucky. That marked the first time since 2010 that Broyles had thrown that many pitches, when she threw 120 in the loss at Florida Atlantic. Broyles felt so strong that she tossed another 1.1 innings against Winthrop on Saturday.
A Much Better Showing in 2011
South Carolina posted one of the best turnarounds in the country last year, the first under Beverly Smith. The 12 1/2 game improvement tied for 12th in NCAA Division I, and the mark was the eighth best for a team that finished 2010 under .500.
Gamecocks Among Most Experienced Teams in NCAA Division I
South Carolina brings back seven position starters from last year, only having to replace a majority of starts at catcher and designated player. When removing two players expected to sit out this year due to injury along with the starts by last year's seniors, the Gamecocks bring back 92.3 percent of their outfield starts and 84.8 percent of infield starts from third to first.
Offensive Improvement Easy to See from `10 to `11
The Garnet and Black tallied a batting average that is 51 points better than 2010 (.267-.216), an on-base percentage 54 points improved (.341-.287) and a slugging percentage 94 points better (.382-.288).From 2010 to 2011, the Gamecocks posted 89 more runs, 130 more hits, 14 more doubles, 10 more triples, 16 more homers, 36 more walks and 66 more stolen bases in `11. They also had 76 less strikeouts in 253 more at bats.
Gamecocks Set Painful Record in 2011
South Carolina, as a team, took more hit by pitches than in any season previous, getting hit 37 times. The previous mark came in 2009, when the team took 32 pitches off their collective bodies. Those are the only two seasons in record of over 30 HBPs.
Record Speed in 2011
Last season, South Carolina recorded 79 stolen bases, tying the 1992 team for the second most in program history. That trailed only the 1995 squad (87) and marked just the fourth time in recorded history (since 1982) that the Gamecocks averaged over a steal per game (1992, 1994, 1995). The 2011 team did set one speed record, attempting to steal 99 stolen bases. The team 79.8 percent success rate ranks third in the last decade.
Returning junior Hannah Milks had her name written in the single-season record books twice for her work on the basepaths last year. Her 0.32 steals per game ranked ninth in Gamecock history, while her and senior Lauren Lackey's perfect percentage became the sixth and seventh such seasons at South Carolina. Milks stole 16 bases without being caught, one more than Lackey.
And the Pitching Has Picked Up, Too
The Gamecock offense was not the only thing that improved from `10 to `11. The team's ERA finished more than a run and a half better than in `10 (3.31-4.97). South Carolina tossed four more complete games and seven more shutouts than the year before, and opponents hit 66 points lower (.253-.319) against the team. In roughly 60 more innings, the Gamecocks compiled four more strikeouts and just one more walk.
Horseshoes, Hand Grenades, Etc.
In last year's 26-30 season, South Carolina went 7-11 in one-run games and 1-3 in extra-inning affairs. Turning half of those one-run losses into wins would move the Gamecocks a long way to their goal of NCAA Tournament eligibility. The Gamecocks matched their extra-inning win total from last season with the 5-4 victory in eight over Western Kentucky and stand at 1-1 in one-run games.