Gamecocks Wrap Up 2010 at No. 6/5 Florida
Saturday DH begins at 1 p.m. EDT; Sunday's single game on Sun Sports TV starts at 12 p.m.
May 7, 2010
COLUMBIA, S.C. -
South Carolina closes the 2010 season this weekend with a three-game series at No. 6/5 Florida. Saturday's doubleheader is scheduled for a 1 p.m. EDT start in Gainesville, while Sunday's contest begins at 12 p.m. and will be shown live on Sun Sports TV. Gametracker live stats are also available for all three games, while you can also follow the audio feed on Gamecocks All-Access at GamecocksOnline.com.
Compton Calling It a Career at Season's End
Joyce Compton, the winningest coach in South Carolina history in any sport, has announced she will retire at the end of the 2010 season, her 24th at the helm of the program.
Earlier this season, Compton won the 950th game of her career in the Garnet and Black. She is the ninth coach in NCAA Division I history to win at least 950 games at one school, cementing her name alongside fellow legends like Arizona's Mike Candrea and Michigan's Carol Hutchins. Other Division I coaches to win 950 games at one school include JoAnne Graf (FSU), Elaine Sortino (UMass), Eugene Lenti (DePaul), Margo Jonker (Central Michigan) and Diana Ninemire (California).
Carolina in the Month of May
Since 1984, the Gamecocks are 66-61 (.520) in the month of May and 65-60 (.520) in the Joyce Compton era. In May regular-season games, South Carolina is 24-16 (.600), 12-10 (.545) in regular-season SEC affairs.
South Carolina vs. Ranked Opponents
In history against foes ranked in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll, South Carolina has an 87-159-1 (.354) mark. In 2010, the Gamecocks are 0-15 against ranked opponents, 0-5 against top-10 squads. Last season, the Gamecocks went 2-12 versus top-25 teams.
Scouting the Florida Gators
Standing sixth in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll, Florida is one victory or one Tennesse loss from clinching an SEC Eastern Division championship for the third-straight season. A sweep and one Alabama loss hands the Gators a third-consecutive overall SEC crown. While pitching has been at the heart of Florida's past success, the Gator offense has clicked this year, ranking second in SEC play in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The pitching hasn't slacked off, though, as the Gators are second in ERA at 2.11 in SEC outings. The strikeouts seem down at sixth, but Florida stands second in strikeouts per seven innings in league play at 6.16.
The Gators have seven starters above .300 in batting average and eight higher than .520 in slugging percentage. Seven starters also boast on-base percentages of .400 or better, with another one just under the threshold at .399. Francesca Enea powers the offense, leading the Gators in slugging percentage (.857) and on-base percentage (.518). Her 18 homers lead the SEC in overall stats, but she hasn't added as much in league play thanks to a team-high 18 walks and five HBP. Megan Bush has picked up the slack, hitting .411 in SEC play, getting on base at a .471 clip and slugging at a team-high .732. Those compare to a .344/.413/.720 mark in all games.
In the circle, Florida is led by Stephanie Brombacher, who just earned first-team ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III honors. She's struck out 181 batters in 164.2 innings, going 26-5 with a 2.04 ERA. Ensley Gammel has been a good complement in the second spot, posting a 2.09 ERA and a 12-2 record in 100.2 innings.
Gamecocks All-Time vs. Florida
South Carolina has had issues with the largest school in the Southeastern Conference, especially recently. Florida owns a 27-19 advantage in the series, including claiming the last 17, dating back to the 2003 SEC Tournament in Plant City, Fla. However, the games have been competitive, as the eight-run rule has only been invoked once, on March 18, 2000. In Gainesville, the Gamecocks are 8-11 all-time, falling in seven straight and 10 of their last 11.
The Last Meeting - South Carolina vs. Florida - March 7-8, 2009
The Gators of Florida swept a three-game series from the Gamecocks at Beckham Field last season. The Saturday doubleheader against second-ranked Florida included two close games, one going over regulation.
The Gamecocks forced extra innings after Jill Semento's two-RBI double, but Florida's Kelsey Bruder hit a two-run home run in the eighth to lead the second-ranked Florida Gators to a 4-2 win in the first game of the series. Florida started the eighth with a single by Kristina Hilberth, and she moved into scoring position on Aja Paculba's sacrifice bunt. But the sac wasn't needed, as Bruder drove the 1-0 pitch over the wall in left. The Gamecocks were sat down in order in their half of the eighth to end the game. South Carolina tied up the game in the fifth thanks to Semento's heroics. Adele Voigt led off the inning with a single, but she was forced out on a Lauren Lackey fielder's choice. Gator starter Stacey Nelson got a strikeout before Laura Mendes got a single through the right side. That brought up Semento, who smacked the 0-1 offering to left center, allowing both Lackey and Mendes to cross home.
A seventh-inning RBI double from Evan Childs was not enough for South Carolina, as the Gamecocks fell in the second game of Saturday's doubleheader, 3-1. The Gamecocks put a run on the board in the seventh when Childs lined the 1-1 pitch from Gator starter Stephanie Brombacher to the wall in right center, plating Kaitlin Westfall. Brombacher came back to strike out the side and slam the door on Carolina's hopes. Florida posted a run in the first thanks to Bruder's blast to left center. The Gators added two more in the fourth, as Michelle Moultrie and Hilberth both had RBI hits in the frame.
Nelson tossed a five-hit shutout to help the second-ranked Gators defeat South Carolina, 6-0, in the final game of the three-game series. The Gators got on the board quickly, as Bruder yanked the 2-0 pitch from Gamecock starter Audrey Broyles over the right-field wall to put Florida up, 1-0, in the first. South Carolina tried to answer in the bottom half of the frame, getting a leadoff single from Lackey. She moved to second on a passed ball and advanced to third with two down on Mendes's grounder to second. But she would be stranded when Ali Gardiner caught Semento's blooping liner at first. The visitors hung four runs on the board in the second, all coming with two outs. Megan Bush singled to center with one out in the inning, and Broyles got a pop up for the second out. Hilberth singled through the right side to put Bush into scoring position. Paculba followed with a single that scored Bush, and Hilberth crossed the plate as well after the ball was mishandled in right. With Paculba at third after the error, Bruder was hit by the pitch and promptly stole second. Gardiner brought both home with her base hit.
The Gamecocks have gone most of the season without their top starter, as sophomore Audrey Broyles has undergone surgery on her right shoulder. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native had a sub-1.00 ERA after tossing two consecutive one-hitters in the Florida Atlantic Strike Out Cancer Tournament. Her surgery, performed by Dr. James Andrews, should have Broyles back in the circle in time for the 2011 season.
Back to Bash
Junior Laura Mendes has once again anchored the lineup, where she has at least matched her totals in every extra-base-hit category from a year ago.
Mendes leads the team in nine offensive categories, including these eight: batting average (.374), hits (55), runs (20), triples (2), home runs (3), RBI (32), on-base percentage (.404) and slugging percentage (.558). Mendes also tops the team and is tied for second in the SEC with 14 doubles. In the PDF version of the notes is the full listing of her current standing on the South Carolina career and single-season charts.
Milks Snags SEC Freshman of the Week Honors
Freshman third baseman Hannah Milks has shown steady improvement all season, and the April 17-18 outings against Mississippi State were a big step for her. She earned SEC Freshman of the Week honors after hitting .500 during the weekend series against the Bulldogs. The biggest day coincided with the Gamecocks' first SEC win, as she went 3-for-3 with a career-best three runs scored in the 8-4 victory. She's the first Gamecock to claim Freshman of the Week honors since Laura Mendes did it in 2008.
Pinch Hitters Coming Through Recently
After a slow start to the season, the Gamecock pinch hitters have come through recently. South Carolina's pinch hitters are 5-for-14 with two RBI after going 0-for-10 earlier in the year. Kandyce Redondo has become the specialist, collecting four of the five hits and half of the RBI. Audrey Broyles and Kaitlin Westfall both drove in runs in the first two SC pinch-hitting spots this year during the hit drought. Overall in 2010, South Carolina pinch hitters are 5-for-21 (.238) with four RBI. Last season, Gamecock pinch hitters hit .179 with eight RBI.
Steady Influence Behind the Plate
Junior catcher P.J. Fulmer has been a solid contributor for three years now. She started 43 of the team's 45 games last season behind the plate and has gotten the starting nod in every game at catcher again this season. Fulmer ranks second on the squad with 19 runs batted in.
Still Looking for That Right Mix
Even with just 13 position players on the roster, South Carolina has still done quite the mixing and matching, trying to find the right player at each position. Junior P.J. Fulmer has started every game at catcher, but no other position has had the same starter in every contest. The closest spot is in center, as senior Adele Voigt has started all but the two games she missed with a leg injury. In 48 games, the Gamecocks have used 22 different defensive alignments behind their pitchers. In the same thought, the lineup has been shuffled many times too, with 43 different batting orders attempting to stimulate the offense.
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 automatically among the toughest in the nation the past few seasons. This year is no exception, as the Gamecocks were slated to face three of the top five and eight of the top 25 teams in the preseason polls this season. Of those 20 games against the preseason top 25, 14 of those games 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., with the final two destinations marking South Carolina's last six games of the year.
While facing three of the top five is rough, the Gamecocks have had tougher slates before 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. No sympathy came from Auburn, however, as the Tigers were slated to face all five top-five teams this year.
The Glove Where Triples Goes to Die Came from This State, Too
South Carolina native Joe Jackson had a glove that was described as the place where triples go to die. This year's Gamecock outfield could follow in the legacy of the great Jackson. Both senior Adele Voigt and sophomore Lauren Lackey have above-average speed that could help keep balls out of the gaps. And newcomer April Borchardt picked up three steals during the fall while covering a lot of ground when in the outfield. That trio was the opening-day starters, with Voigt shifting to center after claiming SEC All-Defensive honors in left in 2009, with Borchardt flanking her in left and Lackey in right.
The pitchers have allowed 63 doubles, but only eight triples have been given up by the Gamecocks in 2010. The outfield also has 13 assists, with the three listed above all making at least one. Lackey has made seven, including six from right field, while Voigt has five from center.
Bats Showed Early Life
While snow kept South Carolina from starting its season as planned, the Gamecocks began the season hot at the plate. The team has won two mercy rule-shortened games (Coastal Carolina and North Florida), while another went seven but was a 15-1 Gamecock win. The squad owns two season bests in the SEC this year, including eight doubles in the Coastal Carolina victory.
Childs Ties Another Single-Game Record in Romp of Longwood
Sophomore Evan Childs has become known for big bursts of offense, especially early in the year. In her second career game, she tied the program single-game record with two homers against the College of Charleston. This season, she waited until game four to put up a historic mark. The Conway, S.C., native hit three doubles in the second game against Longwood, tying Ashley Smith's six-year-old record.
Nice Double, Can You Do It Again?
Evan Childs did something last season that only happened three other times in Gamecock history (since 1982). The Conway, S.C., native led South Carolina in both home runs and stolen bases, putting her name among legends like Dana Fulmer, Christie Dammer and Lindi James. She was also the first Gamecock to accomplish the feat during the Southeastern Conference era.
Childs might not repeat that feat, but she does stand third on the team in slugging percentage (.300). Her nine doubles are second on the team and tied for 16th in the SEC while her 17 RBI rank third on the squad.
Runs Coming in Bunches
This season, South Carolina has scored nine or more runs in four separate games. The last season that happened was in 2005, when the squad posted 15, 13, 12, 10 and nine runs in games during the year.
There Have Been Better Days
The Gamecocks lost 21-1 (5) to No. 8/5 Alabama in the final game of the series in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The contest saw the most runs allowed, the largest deficit and the most home runs allowed in a single game in program history. No. 22 North Carolina tied that home run mark against the Gamecocks on March 30.
Just Not Our Year
South Carolina set some dubious marks this season. The program's two longest losing streak have come this season. Earlier this year, the Gamecocks lost 11 straight games before snapping it in Joyce Compton's 950th win at South Carolina. The more-recent 13-game losing streak ended in the second game against Mississippi State on April 17.
The Gamecocks have also had a problem taking games the distance in SEC play. Through 25 contests, South Carolina has seen 10 games shortened via the mercy rule. That is one more than the total from the last two seasons combined, while it ties the sum of mercy-rule losses in league games from 1997-2004. This season, all but one three-game series in SEC play has had the last game shortened.
The 37 losses for the season are a new low for Carolina, and the squad has now reached 30 losses twice in the 37-year history of the program. It's also the fifth losing season in program annals.