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May 2, 2012
SC Softball Notes for May 2
2012 SC Softball Stats (4/29)
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
The South Carolina Gamecocks (23-29, 3-22 SEC) close out the 2012 softball season with a three-game series at Ole Miss (19-32, 4-21 SEC). Friday's series opener is set for a 6 p.m. CDT first pitch at Ole Miss Softball Complex, while Saturday's contest begins at 2 p.m. CDT. Sunday's finale, being televised on SportSouth, starts at 1 p.m. CDT. A live audio stream and Gametracker live stats for all three games will be at GamecocksOnline.com, while fans can get updates from the team's Twitter feed, @GamecockSoftbll.
New Team Home Run Record at South Carolina
The 2012 South Carolina Gamecocks set a new program record in home runs on April 15 at Alabama, when sophomore Chelsea Hawkins blasted the 39th round-tripper of the year. Now at 40 for the team, that eclipses the 2003 team's 38 dingers in 61 games. Eleven different Gamecocks have hit the homers, including three that stand in the top 10 in the individual single-season stats: senior Evan Childs (11, T-1st), junior Samie Garcia (7, T-10th) and Hawkins (7, T-10th).
Other Team Single-Season Marks in Jeopardy
Three other team season records are in danger of falling as well. The Gamecocks also could post the highest on-base percentage and slugging percentage as a team in history. The group is currently .001 above the 1996 team's .367 on-base mark, while it's .030 higher than the 1994 team's slugging record. And two more HBP's on the team would break the mark of 37 set last year.
Offensive Improvement Continues in 2012
Beverly Smith's first season saw the Gamecocks improve their offensive statistics by huge margins from 2010. The improvement has continued in 2012, with this year's team holding a batting average 24 points better than last year (.291-.267), an on-base percentage 27 points improved (.368-.341) and a slugging percentage 65 points higher (.447-.382).
In 2011, the Garnet and Black tallied a batting average that was 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 With A First in 16th SEC Season
For the first time since the inception of Southeastern Conference softball in 1997, South Carolina did not post a defensive error in a three-game series. The format of most league series since 2001, the April 20-22 weekend against Tennessee marked the first time the Gamecocks played errorless softball in a weekend set. The previous two times the Gamecocks did that in a single-day doubleheader-only series in SEC play were also against Tennessee, in 2007 and a rain-shortened series in 2009. Remarkably, in all seven of those games, South Carolina came out on the wrong side.
Postseason Not Possible for South Carolina
South Carolina's hopes for a first postseason berth under Beverly Smith vanished during the final home weekend at Beckham Field, as Auburn swept the Gamecocks to clinch a spot in the SEC Tournament, being held in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Gamecocks and Rebels stand 11th and 10th, respectively, in the overall SEC standings heading into the final weekend.
The Long Ball Proving to Be Bellweather Again for Gamecocks
The 2012 Gamecocks have tallied 40 homers on the year, the highest total in program history. And yet again, the homers point to good things for the team. South Carolina is 17-9 when sending at least one ball out, while it is 3-20 when going without a triple or homer. Last season, the Gamecocks went 17-6 in games in which they hit a homer while winning just three games when the team did not record at least one triple or one home run.
Starting Things Right Very Important for Gamecocks
The Gamecocks thrive when they reach base to start an inning. As a team, South Carolina gets on base at a .392 clip to begin a frame, and the team is 16-8 in games when the leadoff runner of an inning reaches three times or more in the game. When the Gamecocks start two or fewer innings with a base runner reaching, they are 7-21. Three of those seven wins came in games shortened by the mercy rule (Providence, Maine and Kentucky).
Carolina in the Month of May
For games documented in the month of May since 1986, the Gamecocks are 68-64 overall, including a 26-21 mark in all May regular-season games. When broken down into SEC games in the fifth month, the record comes in at 12-16.
Childs Prefers to Trot . . .
Senior third baseman Evan Childs has tallied 11 homers on the year, tied for the most by a South Carolina player in a single season. With 17 in her career, she's tied for sixth on South Carolina's all-time list with three-time Academic All-American Ashley Smith. She's vying to be the first Gamecock since McKenna Hughes (2004-07) to lead the team in homers twice in her career. She also is vying for a spot on the top-10 single-season RBI charts, one away from tying for 10th there.
Two of Childs' homers came in the Gamecocks' series-clinching 8-7 victory over Arkansas on March 11, the second two-homer game of her career, tying the program's single-game record again. She also hit the second homer off Florida Gator pitching this season on March 18.
While Lackey Likes Stretching It to Three . . .
Senior outfielder Lauren Lackey has five triples on the year, tied for the SEC lead. Lackey is looking to be the first Gamecock since Ashton Payne in 2007-08 to lead the team in triples in consecutive seasons. She's tied for seventh on the Gamecocks' career triples chart with 10 with former standouts Joyce McMillin and two-time All-American Karen Sanchelli.
Lackey ranks second in the SEC with her .408 batting average and she's also tied for third in the league with 62 hits and eight sacrifice bunts, leading the team in all three categories. Keeping her batting average in the same range would place Lackey on South Carolina's single-season top-10 list. Lackey also leads the Gamecocks in on-base percentage (.444) and stolen bases (10, tied with Garcia).
Westfall A Double Machine in 2012
Senior leftfielder Kaitlin Westfall leads the SEC with 17 doubles this season, tying for third on South Carolina's single-season top-10 list and four more than her closest competition in the league. She also is vying for a listing in the single-season HBP records, as she is currently tied with Samie Garcia and Dana Hathorn for sixth with six this year. Five of Westfall's doubles came in the Blue & Gold Feisberg Memorial, as she posted two each in wins over Illinois-Chicago and Villanova.
Westfall has also contributed four round-trippers on the year, and they both came in pairs on a single day. On March 2, she hit one against both Portland State and Maine in the Highlander Classic at UC Riverside. On March 31, she had one in each end of the doubleheader versus Longwood, including a grand slam in game two that gave the Gamecocks a lead they never relinquished.
Garcia Still Strong Atop Lineup
Shortstop Samie Garcia ranks second on the team and seventh in the SEC with a .370 batting average, and she's sixth in the league with 60 hits. She's tied for sixth in the SEC in total bases, tied for seventh in runs and tied for 11th in triples. While Garcia is threatening to make the Gamecocks' single-season charts in many categories (found on pages 9-10 of the PDF notes), including her seven homers, which tie her for 10th in a single season, she also ranks in the top 20 in many of South Carolina's all-time hitting categories after almost two seasons, which can be found on page 8.
The Easter Sunday contest at Kentucky (4/8) was outstanding for the Bell, Calif., native, as she hit two homers and scored three times. The junior saw her 21-game hitting streak snapped in the first game versus Arkansas (3/9), the second-longest documented skein in Gamecock history. In front of family and a large crowd at the Highlander Classic, Garcia went 3-for-4 with the game-tying RBI double in the 3-2 comeback win over UC Davis. And during the Blue & Gold Feisberg Memorial, she led the team with nine RBI in the event. Her grand slam versus Providence helped propel South Carolina to the 9-1 (5) win.
Hawkins Providing Thump
Sophomore Chelsea Hawkins has provided a lot of power for the Gamecocks this season, currently standing in a tie for 10th on South Carolina's top-10 single-season charts with seven homers while adding 13 doubles, which stands second on the team and tied for second in the SEC behind teammate Kaitlin Westfall. She's driven in 29 runs, tied for second on the team, and also stands third in slugging percentage (.556) and in batting average (.319).
Big RBI Games Already Surpassing Last Year
The Gamecocks have posted seven four-or-more-RBI games already in 2012, four more than what the team did in the whole of 2011. Sophomores Chelsea Hawkins (2/11) and Dana Hathorn (2/22) both drove home four in wins over Winthrop, while junior Samie Garcia had a grand slam in the win over Providence (2/17). Senior Evan Childs has two four-RBI games on the season, the last in the comeback triumph over Arkansas to clinch the series on March 11. Freshman Kristen Struett, in her first career start, hit a homer and drove in four in the win at Winthrop (3/28). And senior Kaitlin Westfall joined the act in game two against Longwood (3/31), launching her first career grand slam and adding another RBI for the first five-RBI day since Jill Semento's day on April 7, 2009 against Coastal Carolina.
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. The trend has held true in 2012, as the Gamecocks stand at 1-1 in extra-inning games this season, getting a 5-4 victory in eight over Western Kentucky, and hold a 5-7 mark in one-run games.
More on SC's Close Calls in SEC Play
South Carolina's record for 2012 will not reflect how closely the Gamecocks came to a full turnaround on the field. In SEC play alone, the Gamecocks have been extremely close in a number of contests but have not been able to hold on or complete a comeback. A list with a brief recap of the tight losses are in the PDF version of the notes.
Struett Stellar in First Week of Action
Freshman Kristen Struett bided her time until she made her debut, but she definitely knew how to make an impact once playing. She went 1-for-3 in pinch-hitting duty against LSU while tossing the final 2.1 innings in the Sunday contest. Struett shined against Winthrop and Longwood, earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors. She tossed a complete game in Rock Hill and hit her first career homer. She added hits in both ends of the twinbill versus the Lancers and another pitching win in game two.
Hathorn Leads Gamecocks to Walkoff Win vs. Charlotte
Sophomore second baseman Dana Hathorn stepped up with another big hit to lead the Gamecocks over Charlotte on March 14. She poked a single to left to score Kaitlin Westfall from third and give South Carolina its second comeback win in four days.
In the first game at No. 11/11 Georgia on April 11, Hathorn tied the game in the seventh with a two-out, two-RBI single, adding to her big-hit résumé.
Howser a Bullpen Ace in Early Going
Freshman Katelynn Howser has done some of her best work in 2012 out of the bullpen. In 18 relief appearances, seventh most in a year for a Gamecock, she's picked up three saves, which ranks ninth on South Carolina's single-season chart, and three of her eight wins while posting a 2.43 ERA in 49 innings. In her 16 starts, she's 5-8, tossing eight complete games and posting a 4.83 ERA in 75.1 innings. Her last two starts have been two of her strongest, including the Auburn start on April 28 when she gave up three earned runs on six hits and three walks while fanning five in the complete game.
Childs' Game-Ending Blast New Feeling for These Gamecocks
South Carolina senior Evan Childs ended the series finale against Arkansas on March 11 with a two-run home run, helping the team claim its first win of the season when trailing heading into the seventh inning. Childs' walk-off shot is the first for the Gamecocks since McKenna Hughes ended a nine-inning affair against Ole Miss in similar fashion in the second game of the doubleheader on May 5, 2007. It was Hughes' ninth round-tripper in her program-best 11-homer year, a mark Childs has tied.
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 immediately following.
The Pembroke Pines, Fla., product leads the Gamecocks with a 3.71 ERA, tossing 94.1 innings this season. She made her first relief appearance of the year on March 11 and held Arkansas scoreless for the final 3.2 innings in the 8-7 comeback win. She pitched a strong seven innings versus Longwood (3/31), fanning seven without giving up a walk in the complete-game win.
Scouting the Ole Miss Rebels
Ole Miss enters the weekend with a 19-32 overall record and a 4-21 mark in SEC play. They too are out of postseason consideration.
The Rebels have a strong offensive core, led by sophomore RT Cantillo (.374/.560/.556), but she has not played the past seven games after starting the previous 43. Londen Ladner leads the Rebels with five home runs and is second in several other categories, including the slash stats (.313/.442/.492). Cali Overbeck also has five homers, while Allison Brown has added four and a team-high 34 RBI. Brittany Broome and Corrine Doornberg have 17 and 11 steals each, respectively.
Kendall Bruning leads Ole Miss in the circle, tossing almost 2/3 of the team's innings. She has a 3.65 ERA with 135 strikeouts and 108 walks in 193.2 innings. Foes are hitting .249 against her. She's also tossed 40 wild pitches and hit 34 batters. Bruning did toss a no-hitter on Tuesday night against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Erinn Jayjohn has a 5.64 ERA in 80.2 innings, fanning 30 and walking 44 on the year.
Series History Versus the Rebels
South Carolina owns a 24-13 advantage in the all-time series against Ole Miss, the least-played opponent for the Gamecocks among its fellow SEC members. In Oxford, the series is much closer, 8-7, in favor of the Gamecocks, though the Rebels have won the past five games at their own field. South Carolina's last win at the Ole Miss Softball Complex came on April 24, 2005, a 2-0 win to take the weekend series.
The Last Series vs. Ole Miss - March 11-13, 2011
South Carolina swept the series against the Rebels at Beckham Field, the first three SEC wins under Beverly Smith's direction.
South Carolina fought back and answered Ole Miss with a six-run sixth to take a 10-7 win over the Rebels in the first game of the series on Friday night. Centerfielder Lauren Lackey led the way with a 3-for-3 night, scoring three times and driving in three runs with a double and a triple. Second baseman Dana Hathorn went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI, while shortstop Samie Garcia added two RBI on a 1-for-2 night. Londen Ladner led the Rebels with a 3-for-4 outing, posting three RBI to go with a homer.
Another stellar offensive performance by the Gamecocks gave the team a 9-5 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday afternoon. Leftfielder Kaitlin Westfall led a trio of Gamecocks with two hits, driving home two while posting a double. Samie Garcia and Hannah Milks both had two hits and two runs scored, while Garcia stole a pair of bases. Second baseman Dana Hathorn drove home three runs and doubled in a 1-for-3 day. Pitcher Julie Sarratt added her second two-run home run of the season as well.
With leftfielder Kaitlin Westfall leading the way, South Carolina posted a 7-1 win over Ole Miss on Sunday afternoon. Westfall scored a career-best three times while going 1-for-2 with a two-run homer. Rightfielder Hannah Milks and second baseman Dana Hathorn both had a pair of hits and stole two bases. Kaela Jackson also collected her first hit as a Gamecock, driving in two with the pinch-hit single.
Connections between Gamecocks and Rebels
Ole Miss's Kendall Bruning and South Carolina's Kaela Jackson both played at Chattanooga State before finding their ways onto SEC teams. Rebel Brittany Broome and Gamecock Katelynn Howser, while two years apart, may have seen each other, as both played travel ball with the East Cobb (Ga.) Bullets.
Looking for Better Showing on TV in 2012
South Carolina hopes for another great game but a better result than its earlier game shown on television this year. The Gamecocks dropped a hard-fought 1-0 game at Florida on March 17 in a game show by Sun Sports. Last season, the Gamecocks went 2-5 on the small screen.
Gamecocks Set Painful Record in 2011, Getting Close in 2012
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. This season, the Gamecocks have been hit 36 times, the third time a team has recorded over 30 HBP's.
Coaches Know a Bit about Winning
Last season was outside of the norm for the Gamecock coaching staff. Both head coach Beverly Smith and assistant coach Janelle Breneman came down from North Carolina, which was ranked in the top 25 in each of their last five seasons in Chapel Hill, while the Tar Heels made NCAA Tournament appearances eight times during Smith's tenure. Calvin Beamon also knows something about winning, claiming crowns at all three of his amateur stops. A high school state champion at Smoky Hill High School in Cherry Creek, Colo., Beamon won the NJCAA Division I title in 2003 at the College of Southern Nevada and the College World Series at Texas during 2005.
South Carolina Defense Downfall in Early Losses
A common strand ran through the first three Gamecock losses: defensive errors and unearned runs. South Carolina committed seven errors combined and allowed nine unearned runs. Only the Tennessee State game would have stay tied without those runs; the rest would all favor the Gamecocks. Errors also haunted the Gamecocks in the first game against Mississippi State, as four unearned runs crossed in the 10-6 setback on March 13.
In 2012, the Gamecocks are 18-19 when making one or less errors but 5-10 when committing two or more. Last season, 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.
Gamecocks Bring In Most Fans in a Decade vs. Tennessee
South Carolina fans posted one of the best attendances in history at Beckham Field on Sat., April 21. A total of 928 fans packed into the 700-seat facility, spilling onto the fence down the left-field line and also finding room to sit and watch from the berm behind that fence to watch the Gamecocks and Lady Volunteers play a very exciting contest, one that Tennessee claimed 4-2. It's the most fans since 1,038 came out to the 2003 season opener on Feb. 2 against North Carolina, a doubleheader the Gamecocks swept. A total of 921 filled the seats for the final home game at the current setup of Beckham Field on Sun., April 29 against Auburn, which was also Senior Day for the Gamecocks.
Helping fill the stands on April 21 were participants in Active Gamecocks, a program started this academic year to promote physical education and fitness in the state. The spring portion of the program ran from March 20-April 3, with over 3,000 students participating in 44 schools. The students and teachers involved with the effort were invited to spring Gamecock events.
Gamecocks Among Most Experienced Teams in NCAA Division I
South Carolina has 10 seniors listed on the roster for 2012, which is believed to be the most in NCAA Division I this year. Seven position starters return from last year, losing starters 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.
Venerable Beckham Field Has Had Its Farewell
Debuting in its current layout in 1997, Beckham Field has hosted every Gamecock home SEC game in history. Renamed in 1998 in honor of longtime supporters David and Mitzi Beckham, the Gamecocks went 235-144 (.620) since the name change and 262-145 (.644) since the dugouts and current grandstand were constructed prior to the 1997 season for what was previously known as Lady Gamecock Field.
The Gamecocks played their 30th season at the site off South Marion Street, nestled in between Weems Baskin Track and the former Sarge Frye Field site that now holds the Carolina Tennis Center, with a 515-198-2 (.722) all-time on the grounds. The site will host Gamecock Softball for the foreseeable future, as the new stadium will be constructed around the field that received new drainage and turf prior to this season.