Gamecocks Head Out of Conference to Take on Charlotte, Winthrop
March 31, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina softball team steps out of conference for its next three games, starting with Wednesday's single game at Charlotte, which now starts at 5 p.m. On Thursday, the squad hosts Winthrop at 7 p.m. at Beckham Field.
The Gamecocks (14-15, 2-13 SEC) won their last outing, salvaging the third game of the series at Auburn, 5-0. The squad hopes to continue its strong play out of the league, holding a 12-2 mark against teams outside the Southeastern Conference.
Charlotte stands at 18-8 on the season and holds a 4-2 mark in Atlantic-10 play. The team's fielding has been excellent, making just 19 errors in its 26 games. The offense hasn't been bad as well, with Serena Smith, a transfer from Western Carolina, carrying the biggest load. She has driven in a team-best 24 RBI and leads the squad in batting average and on-base percentage. Sarah Malene has scored a team-best 23 runs and has 25 of the team's 51 steals. She's been caught just once, and the 49ers have been nabbed just four times in 55 attempts. Keri Palma leads the team with a .548 slugging percentage.
In the circle, Charlotte is fronted by junior Emily Jeffery. She's compiled a 13-4 record with a 1.51 ERA in 106.2 innings of work. Completing 12 of her 13 starts, Jeffery has struck out 136 batters while walking just 42. Katy Hackett is the No. 2 starter, putting together a 2.91 ERA in 53.0 innings of action. She also has an impressive 44:16 strikeout to walk ratio.
South Carolina owns a 29-3 mark against Charlotte all-time in softball, including a 10-1 mark in the Queen City. The 49ers took the last meeting, however, salvaging the final game of the doubleheader on March 3, 2007 with a 2-1 win.
Winthrop is 14-14 on the season overall and 3-0 in the Big South. Lisa Kingsmore is the Eagles' top hitter, slugging over .600 while leading the team with six doubles and a .451 batting average. Tessa Thomas also ranks as a dangerous hitter, with a .362 average, six homers and a team-best 21 RBI. She's also scored 23 times, best on the squad. The Eagles are not a particularly fast squad, stealing 11 bases in 18 tries.
Pitching has been a major issue for Winthrop. The team ERA is 4.04, and they have allowed 100 runs on the season. Megan Evans leads the team with a 11-6 recordand a 3.43 ERA. She's started 15 games and completed seven, fanning 93 in 107.2 innings of work. Taylor Wright holds a 4.54 ERA, striking out 21 while walking 18 in 41.2 innings.
The Gamecocks and Eagles have met 47 times in history, with South Carolina taking 39 of those meetings. The squads also tied in 2005. Last season, the Gamecocks got a 6-3 win in Rock Hill.
Forecasts look grim for both games, so check back at GamecocksOnline.com for updates. If played, both games will be broadcast on the All-Access channel of GamecocksOnline.com