South Carolina Ends Home Stand Against Gardner-Webb on Tuesday Afternoon
The Gamecocks end their five-game home stand with the added game against Gardner-Webb, set for a 4 p.m. first pitch at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
The game, which replaces the game against Indiana lost in Texas due to the Hoosiers' travel plans, is free for fans to attend and will also be shown on SEC Network + on Watch ESPN.
Gamecock Pitching Posting Stellar Results
In February, South Carolina's pitching tallied eight shutouts, tying 2014 for the most in the 2000s during the first month of the season.
Senior Jessica Elliott tossed the first solo no-hitter in seven years with her five-inning blanking of Winthrop in the first game of Feb. 28's doubleheader.
Twice more, Gamecock starters have tallied one-hitters, with two more two-hitters in the books.
Elliott has two more complete games (5-3) and one more complete-game shutout (3-2) than fellow senior Nickie Blue.
Freshman Cayla Drotar has two complete-game shutouts as well, including a one-hitter in her debut against Presbyterian.
Two Freshmen Making Impact Early in 2017
Freshmen Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar have played pivotal roles in South Carolina's success so far in 2017.
Boesel has produced with a team-best four home runs to go with a .341 batting average, .462 on-base percentage and 21 RBI, all ranking second.
The March 6 SEC Freshman of the Week, Boesel posted a .550 batting average, two home runs and eight RBI in the prior seven games, including a three-run blast against No. 20/20 Arizona State.
She also drove in both Gamecock runs in the contest against No. 7/8 UCLA with her double. A three-time South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, Drotar is 4-1 with a 2.74 ERA in 46 innings of work.
In her first career start against Presbyterian, she twirled a one-hitter.
That beginning harkens back to another in-state pitcher's debut back in 2011, when Julie Sarratt no-hit Coastal Carolina in her first go in the circle.on Feb. 12, 2011.
White Leading the Offense in Early Part of 2017
Krystan White leads the Gamecocks' offense in RBI (27), batting average (.383) and on-base percentage (.463).
Much like in her 2016 season, the junior from Chesterfield, S.C., opened up eyes with her bat in her first chance to start.
She had a perfect opening day, going 2-for-2 against both Ohio and Presbyterian.
Three of the four hits went for extra bases: the homer joined with a double against the Bobcats and another double against the Blue Hose.
She also showed her versatility, starting at both second and third while making stellar plays at both.
She added a team-best five RBI during the Texas Invitational, starting all four games.
White took over at shortstop at North Carolina after an injury to sophomore Kenzi Maguire forced her out of the lineup.
In 2016, she led the team both in opportunities (21) and RBI (15) with runners on third and less than two outs.
Blue Starting to Climb Gamecock Pitching Charts
Senior Nickie Blue claimed South Carolina's saves record with a two-inning shutout showing on Fri., Feb. 24 against North Dakota State.
With the save against Long Beach State (3/5), Blue moved into the top 10 in NCAA Division I history in career saves, and her next one pushes her into the top five.
Blue's also moved up South Carolina's lists in innings pitched, wins, shutouts and strikeouts in 2017.
She's producing ground outs at a 67-percent rate this season (102-50), the best percentage of her career, which stood at 62 percent entering the season (777-472).
Blue became the fourth Gamecock pitcher in history with back-to-back 200-inning years, joining Angie Lear (1990-91), Darlene Gareis (3 years, 1992-94) and Megan Matthews (4 years, 1999-2002) on that list.
In 2015, Blue posted over 200 innings in the circle and an ERA under 2.00, one of two in the SEC to post such numbers (Lauren Haeger of Florida the other).
South Carolina Softball Historical Record
South Carolina has played 2,214 games in its softball history, going 1435-772-7 (.650) in its 41st season of sponsorship.
Blue, Snaer Among NCAA Division I Active Leaders
Gamecock seniors Nickie Blue and Kaylea Snaer both rank among NCAA Division I's active leaders in some statistical categories.
Blue leads the country with 20 career saves, while she ranks second in appearances (156).
Snaer stands second in career doubles with 51.
The duo both hold NCAA season statistical plaques: Snaer for doubles in 2016 and Blue for saves in 2014.
The Schedule Has Never Been Tougher
The 2017 schedule is the toughest compiled to date by head coach Beverly Smith.
The Gamecocks are set to play 33 of their 56 regular-season games against teams who made the 2016 NCAA Tournament.
South Carolina is scheduled to play at least one NCAA Tournament team each weekend except for one: the SEC trip to Mississippi State, who ended 2016 with a 39 RPI and was ineligible for postseason play (26-31 record).
On the docket are 15 games against Women's College World Series teams and another three against last year's top seed in the NCAA Tournament (and defending SEC champs), Florida, who lost in super regional play to Georgia.
A total of 45 of the Gamecocks' scheduled games come against teams that finished in the top 100 of the NCAA's Ratings Percentage Index last year. Of those, 41 are against the top-76 teams and 33 are versus the top 50.
The Gamecocks play four defending regular-season conference champs: Florida (SEC), Florida State (ACC), Longwood (Big South) and North Dakota State (Summit) as well as the Atlantic Sun (USC Upstate) and SEC (Auburn) Tournament champs from 2016.
Of the preseason top 25 in both major polls, the Gamecocks are slated to take on nine of them, including four of the top five and eight of the top 10 (seven in the NFCA poll).
Seven of those nine are in SEC play, accounting for 21 games.
South Carolina, who had 13 points in the NFCA/USA Today Preseason poll, also has five games against teams receiving votes in between the two polls.
Comebacks Becoming Regular Occurrence for Gamecocks
South Carolina has come from behind to capture a win six times already this season.
Five other times, the Gamecocks have picked up a walk-off win, twice in extra innings.
Last season, the Gamecocks won seven games entering the seventh either tied or down, and this year's team has five, more than halfway to that mark.
All the last at-bat wins can be seen in the chart on the right.
Cali Connection Shows Out in Homestead
Six of South Carolina's players hail from California, including four everyday starters, and that quartet put on a show playing in front of family and friends in the Judi Garman Classic.
Freshman Mackenzie Boesel earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after ranking fifth in the tourney in batting average (.571), posting eight hits, six RBI and four walks.
Senior Kaylea Snaer doubled twice and hit .400 on the trip, moving within a two-bagger of advancing on both the Gamecocks' career doubles and total-base charts.
Sophomore Kennedy Clark doubled twice in the Indiana win and hit .375 on the weekend.
Junior Kamryn Watts stole a pair of bases while batting .316 in the five games.
Boesel, Snaer and Watts all reached base in all five outings, while Clark did so in the first three.
It was the Gamecocks' third straight season to play in the Golden State (2015 Mary Nutter Classic, 2016 UCSB Gaucho Classic).
South Carolina Staff Has Top Credentials
Gamecock head coach Beverly Smith has been a part of 12 NCAA Tournament teams as a coach (eight at UNC, four at South Carolina).
Associate head coach Lisa Navas has been to six NCAA Tournaments as an assistant coach (four at SC, one each at UNC and Missouri) and eight as a head coach (six Division II at Barry, two at NC State). Her 1998 Barry squad played in the national championship game.
Assistant coach Calvin Beamon has three titles to his credit as a player, the biggest a College World Series title at Texas during 2005.
He also won the NJCAA Division I title in 2003 at the College of Southern Nevada and a high school state championship at Smoky Hill High School in Cherry Creek, Colo.
Volunteer assistant Matt Stewart worked the past three years at Florida, serving as a manager for both of the Gators' national title wins.
Snaer Back to Threaten More Records
Moved to the leadoff spot at No. 14/13 Tennessee, Kaylea Snaer went 6-for-11 with three doubles and a grand slam in the series, helping the Gamecocks win the SEC opener for the first time since 2008.
That helped her leap to third on SC's career doubles charts and also move up in RBI and total bases.
She had her career-best 24-game reached-base streak, the best since Alaynie Page's 21-game stretch in 2015, end against No. 2/1 Florida in Saturday's second game.
The senior produced a strong weekend in Texas, hitting a team-best .417 in the four games while blasting her first two home runs of the year along with a double.
This year, she's posted a walk-off blast in the eighth to down College of Charleston on Feb. 25 to add to her legacy of big hits.
Snaer ended 2016 with 27 doubles, leading the nation and tying for fourth in a single season in NCAA Division I history with five others.
She earned a spot on the 2016 CoSIDA Academic All-District 4 team, the 17th Gamecock to garner selection.
Snaer entered her senior year ranking first in SC history in doubles per game and walks per game and second in RBI per game.
Gamecocks Off the Diamond
The Gamecocks post their third-highest team GPA in the past 10 years last spring (3.456).
Fourteen Gamecocks garnered NFCA Scholar-Athlete honors in 2015-16, the most under Beverly Smith. Kaylea Snaer became the 17th Gamecock selected to CoSIDA's Academic All-District team in 2016, a year after Victoria Williams made the squad.
Off the 2016 roster of 20 students, 17 Gamecocks earned SEC Academic Honor Roll nods.
The softball team has won the department's Community Outreach Team of the Year twice under Bev Smith in 2011 and 2013.
Former Gamecocks have played a big part in helping out the Louisville Slugger Warriors team made up of former military veterans.
Gamecocks Have a Rich NCAA Tournament History
South Carolina earned its 19th bid in the NCAA Tournament in 2016, the fourth straight under head coach Beverly Smith.
The Gamecocks are 37-41 in those trips, making three NCAA Women's College World Series in their history (1983, 1989 and 1997).
The program has five AIAW World Series trips in its history as well prior to 1982.
Last season's regional was SC's fourth trip to a regional in Tallahassee and the third-straight year the Gamecocks drove to Florida's capital city.
The Runnin' Bulldogs are 7-17 on the season, last playing in a doubleheader against Syracuse on March 14, dropping both games to the Orange.
Callie Thornton leads the Bulldog offense, hitting .302 and drawing 11 walks.
Kaylee Wacaster also has 11 walks to go with four doubles and nine RBI.
Both Rachel Cumiskey and Megan Gibbons have two doubles and 10 RBI.
Alia Booth has posted three triples and a team-best 12 RBI.
In the circle, Mackenzie Thompson tops the team with her 3.55 ERA in 51.1 innings, striking out 26 and walking 21.
Four others have tossed in over five games, with results indistiguishable from the others.
Two common foes are found between South Carolina and Gardner-Webb, with the Gamecocks winning against both USC Upstate and Charlotte.
Gardner-Webb lost all four games against the Spartans and 49ers, including an 8-0 (5) loss to USC Upstate on the opening weekend and a 2-1 loss in eight to Charlotte.
South Carolina is 4-0 all-time against Gardner-Webb, with three of those wins coming in Columbia.
The Last Meeting - Gardner-Webb at South Carolina - Feb. 22, 2014
The Gamecocks downed Gardner-Webb 7-0 as part of the 2014 Gamecock Invitational. Kaylea Snaer went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the win, while Nickie Blue tossed two shutout innings in relief.
Gamecocks Know A Lot About the Big South
The proximity of the Big South Conference schools to Columbia lends to South Carolina playing many of its members in non-conference competition.
Gardner-Webb stands as the fourth Big South foe to venture to Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field this year after defending league champ Longwood, Presbyterian and Winthrop.
One more BSC team is slated to come this spring: Charleston Southern (April 18).
The Gamecocks are 102-13-1 all-time against the eight current league members that sponsor softball, including 5-0 this season.
Gamecocks Love Home Cooking at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field
South Carolina holds a 13-3 home record, and the team's numbers reflect the better play at home.
The team has a .978 fielding percentage on the finely-maintained surface of Beckham Field (thanks to Marcus Thurber and crew), compared to .944 mark in the 13 games away from home.
That helps the pitching, which has a 2.65 ERA at Carolina Stadium, compared to 3.28 away.
The strikeout-to-walk ratio is also markedly better (80:47 at home, 50:53 away/neutral) as well as the opponent batting average (.186 to .271).
Senior Nickie Blue has also done much better at home (2.06 ERA in 37.1 innings, 4.11 ERA in 32.1 innings), including a 2:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio at home.
Senior Jessica Elliott (2.46 ERA at home, 3.53 ERA away) has also been better in South Carolina and has shown better control (35:19 K:BB ratio at home, 24:32 away).
Eight of the nine shutouts have come at home.
SC natives Krystan White (.436/.511/.744 at home, .333/.417/.405 away) and Victoria Williams (.333/.404/.615 at home, .135/.200/.243 away) enjoy the home feel the most.
Some Win-Loss Breakdowns
In wins, South Carolina has 91 free base runners via walks (68) and HBPs (23) against 32 in losses.
The Gamecocks have only had 13 chances with runners on third and less than two outs in the 10 losses.
With the bases loaded, SC hits .520 (13-for-25) in wins and .100 (1-for-10) in losses.
Those numbers equate to 22 runs in 10 losses compared to 117 in 19 wins.
The Gamecocks have 13 productive outs (7 SF, 6 SH) in wins and only two in setbacks.
The Gamecocks also run less in losses (28 SB in W's, 8 in L's) and commit more errors (18 in 10 losses, 14 in 19 wins).
When Gamecock pitching keeps leadoff runners from reaching at least half the time, SC is 15-3.
In wins, the pitchers also strike out more batters compared to those they walk (90:50 in wins, 40:50 in losses).
12 of the 15 home runs allowed came in Gamecock losses, while eight of the 11 wild pitches have come in those same games.
Augustus Plays Big Role in SC Sweeping Through Gamecock Invitational
Junior Jordyn Augustus did a little of everything in her four starts during the Gamecock Invitational, helping South Carolina win all four of its games in the event.
With an illness sidelining everyday starter Kamryn Watts on Friday and Saturday, Augustus put on an infielder's glove and started three games at third base, making two errors in 12 chances.
To close out the weekend-opening win, she fielded three straight balls flawlessly in the seventh.
She brought in the game-winning run in the first outing against North Dakota State with a sacrifice fly before scoring the game-winner in the second outing against the Bison.
In that second game, she put down a bunt single, stole second and scored on Kennedy Clark's RBI single.
She capped the weekend with a 2-for-2 day, stealing two bases, scoring twice, driving in two runs while reaching base in all four plate appearances, also reaching via walk and hit-by-pitch.
Overall, she batted .429 with a .500 on-base percentage and four stolen bases in the tournament.
Leading the Gamecocks' 14 returners is the senior pitching duo Nickie Blue and Jessica Elliott.
The duo combined for all 61 starts, 390.1 innings, 246 strikeouts, 37 wins and all eight saves.
Six position player starters return for the Gamecocks from last year's squad.
South Carolina lost five students who combined to start 215 games, including a majority of starts at catcher, second base, left and center field.
The highest percentage lost in any offensive category is stolen bases at 75 percent, followed by triples at 66.7 and sacrifice hits at 50.
The Gamecocks return around 60 percent of its offense in most other categories, including 74.4 percent of their doubles to 71.7 percent of their home runs.
The top hitter from last year is back, senior Kaylea Snaer, as she led NCAA Division I in doubles and SC in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, RBI and sacrifice flies.
Six newcomers could play in 2017, three signees and three transfers.
Leading that contingent is former first-team All-Big Ten catcher Alyssa VanDerveer (Penn State), while high school All-Americans Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar both could be major contributors.
Also joining the team are a pair of award-winning outfielders: two-time 2016 Big Ten Freshman of the Week Lauren Stewart (Purdue) and two-time NJCAA All-American Shannon Plese (Chattanooga State).
The sixth newcomer, freshman Alexis Lindsey, will likely miss the year to rehabilitate an injury.
The Gamecocks hail from 12 states this year, with the newcomers coming from California, Georgia, New Jersey, South Carolina and Tennessee. Nickie Blue and Hayley Copeland are the first Gamecock duo who are both over six-feet tall.
While both are Williams' and seniors by class, Taylor and Victoria are not sisters.
Gamecock Newcomers, Signees Have Loads of Accolades, Accomplishments
Many Gamecocks have won awards at South Carolina, but the high school accolades continue to raise the specter of Bev Smith's recruiting classes.
This year's freshman class has two high school All-Americans on it: Mackenzie Boesel and Cayla Drotar.
The team also added its third NJCAA All-American under Bev Smith, signing Shannon Plese out of Chattanooga State.
Plese follows in the footsteps of former Tigers Melissa Hendon and Kaela Jackson (herself a former NJCAA All-American) and joins 2015 NJCAA Pitcher of the Year Jessica Elliott on the roster.
Drotar also claimed the South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year award the past three seasons, and next year, two-time New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year Kelsey Oh will join them.
All the awards for the Gamecocks and the national notations for the 2018 signing class are on page four of the notes.
Meanwhile, Gamecock signee Alex Fulmer has racked up notoriety on the baseball diamond, playing for the last two years with the USA Baseball Women's National Team.
She played on teams that won the 2015 Pan American Games gold medal as well as the consolation bracket of the 2016 World Baseball Softball Confederation World Cup.
Fulmer and Oh were joined by Jana Johns, Victoria Galvan and Alyssa Kumiyama in the 2018 signing class.
Gamecocks Post Stellar Opening Weekend in Carolina Classic
South Carolina showed excellence in every aspect of the 2017 Carolina Classic, going 5-0 in the event.
The five wins pushed head coach Beverly Smith to 200 career victories, a new milestone for the seventh-year boss of the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks won three of the five games in shortened contests, the most ever in an opening week of competition. and matching last year's Carolina Classic output.
The defense looked outstanding, with several stellar plays coming from the infield, that sports former shortstops in three spots (Maguire, Watts and White as freshman at SC, Boesel in high school).
The team did not commit an error on the weekend, a five-game stretch. Only Toledo was able to match that in NCAA Division I through an opening five-game weekend this season.
Last season, the Gamecocks had one six-game stretch without an error (Feb. 20-26).
That helped the pitchers post a 0.23 ERA, which ranks sixth in NCAA Division I.
The group posted two one-hitters and a shutout streak of 27.2 innings, the longest since a 29-inning stretch in 2014 (Feb. 16-23).
Four straight shutouts began the year, the first time that has been accomplished by a Gamecock team. The 1983, 1984 and 1986 teams all tallied three.