The Gamecocks garnered their first SEC Tournament berth since 2007, securing the 10th seed to the single-elimination event that begins on Wed., May 8.
It took a win over No. 2/3 Florida, the first win over the Gators since 2003, ending a 28-game losing streak, to secure the berth, the first in Bev Smith's head coaching career.
South Carolina swept its first SEC series of the year at Mississippi State, marking the first road three-game SEC sweep for the Gamecocks since doing it at Kentucky over March 29-30, 2008.
It's the first three-game sweep in Starkville in history for South Carolina.
The Gamecocks won their first SEC series of 2013 at Auburn, the first winning weekend in any SEC road series since the 2011 Arkansas win (4/16-17).
For consecutive weeks, Gamecock pitchers earned a weekly honor from the SEC. Redshirt senior Audrey Broyles was named Pitcher of the Week on April 29, while Katie Marks took the Freshman of the Week honor on May 6.
South Carolina's leadoff batter has reached 45.4 percent of the time so far in 2013, second in the SEC.
Gamecock pinch hitters are 13-for-37 (.351) at the plate and reach base at a .467 clip, drawing seven walks and taking one hit by pitch.
The April 24, game-one win over Charlotte was the 11th run-rule win for the Gamecocks this year. matching the 1997 group. It's one shy of the 1996 squad's 12, the most in recorded history.
Winning five-consecutive games (2/24-3/3) by the run rule is the best as far as those records go (since 1995). The previous best stretch of run-rule wins came in 1995.
The Gamecocks won their first 13 games by scoring seven or more runs.
In the win over Radford (2/24), redshirt senior Audrey Broyles tossed her first shutout since Feb. 26, 2011, against Elon. This was a three-hitter to defeat the defending Big South regular-season champs.
Also recording their first shutouts as Gamecocks this year were sophomore Katelynn Howser (vs. Buffalo) and freshman Katie Marks (vs. Florida International).
Gamecocks Have Rich History in SEC Tournament
South Carolina makes its 11th appearance all-time in the SEC Tournament on Wed., the first since 2007.
The Gamecocks are 15-15 in those 10 previous trips, with two titles (1997 and 2000) in their history.
Only once has South Carolina qualified for the event since its shift to a single-elimination format, falling in 10 innings to LSU in 2007.
The Gamecocks have faced Kentucky twice in the tourney, both in the first round, with both being Gamecock wins, though they came on neutral sites in 2000 and 2001.
If South Carolina wins the first game, it'd face Tennessee for the first time in conference postseason action.
Some Single-Game Marks Rewritten in 2013
South Carolina beat Alabama State 29-0 (5) on March 2, setting a new NCAA-era record for runs in a game and tying the program record for margin of victory.
The Gamecocks tied their high of 25 RBI in that Alabama State contest.
Olivia Lawrence broke the runs-scored record against the Hornets, crossing home five times.
Chelsea Hawkins tied the single-game homer record with two blasts against Kennesaw State, also on March 2.
Schedule Has Prepared South Carolina for Postseason
South Carolina opened the 2013 season with 22 road games (five weekends + one midweek DH) and 29 of 32 outside Columbia due to ongoing construction at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.
The 1997 team spent 23 of its first 26 games away from home in the most similar stretch in the Gamecocks' SEC-era history.
The 1988 squad played its first 31 games away from Columbia (six weeks on the road), while the 1987 team spent its first 20 games traveling (10 days).
The Gamecocks played 31 of their 53 regular-season games against teams who made the 2012 NCAA Tournament. All eight SEC foes made last year's NCAA tourney.
Out of 53 regular-season games, South Carolina played 40 against top-100 RPI opponents, going 19-21 in those contests.
Fifteen of the 24 SEC games came against top-10 RPI teams in this week's report, including the first 12.
The Gamecocks lost their four TV contests, three to top-15 foes.
Senior shortstop Samie Garcia became the first Gamecock under Beverly Smith to be selected in the NPF Draft, going with the 14th overall selection (second of the fourth round) to the NY/NJ Comets in the April 1 event.
She earned second-team All-SEC honors this year, the second-straight year the Gamecocks have had someone on the all-conference squad.
Garcia leads the Gamecocks in 11 offensive categories entering the SEC Tournament, and she stands in the top 15 in numerous career listings.
She's second in batting average (.370), second in on-base percentage (.435) and fourth in slugging percentage (.541).
With seven triples on the year, Garcia is tied for fifth with 12 in her career.
Garcia is also fifth in hit-by-pitches (16), 10th in total bases (291) and hits (199), 11th in runs (119), tied for 12th in homers (12) and tied for 16th in doubles (32).
Currently, Garcia ranks as the 17th-toughest Gamecock in recorded history to strike out, going 13.79 at bats per strikeout.
In the per-game categories, she's second in hits (1.21), fourth in runs (0.73), fifth in triples (0.07), seventh in doubles (0.20), 11th in home runs (0.07), 11th in walks (0.29) and 17th in RBI (0.43).
She stole four bases in the Stetson Lead-Off Classic to move into the top 10 in that category. Now with 18 on the year, she's fifth in career stolen bases (44) and fourth in stolen bases per game (0.27).
Other Hitters in SC's Top 20 Career Charts
Senior catcher Shelby Gonzales now ranks fifth after her game-winning homer in the regular-season finale vs. No. 2/3 Florida with 0.09 round trippers per game.
Junior second baseman Dana Hathorn would have broken the career hit-by-pitch record with just this season's 23. She's now at 32. She's also tied for 19th in stolen bases (21).
Hathorn is 15th in batting average (.302) and tied for ninth in on-base percentage (.379). In per-game stats, she's seventh in RBI (0.50), 12th in runs (0.51), 14th in hits (0.90) and 17th in stolen bases (0.13).
Junior right fielder Chelsea Hawkins is eighth in career slugging percentage (.485) and 19th in batting average (.291), while she's tied for eighth with 15 homers.
In per-game stats, Hawkins is second in homers (0.12), 11th in doubles (0.17) and 11th in RBI (0.49).
Single-Season Record Already Fallen; Others to Watch
Junior second baseman Dana Hathorn has already broken the single-season hit-by-pitch mark, getting plunked 23 times this year through 53 games.
Senior shortstop Samie Garcia has seven triples on the year, tying for 11th in Gamecock history. One more sees her join Tina Plew in 10th with eight in a single season.
Garcia is also tied for ninth in hits, two shy of tying Tina Plew's 1994 output.
She's also 12th in runs, needing three to tie for 11th with Dana Fulmer's 50 in 1994.
Garcia's 16 doubles are tied for sixth in a single season, and her next would join her with Danielle Quinones and Tricia Popowski in fourth.
Garcia's 18 stolen bases is 10th in a single season, one shy of tying Tina Plew and Christie Dammer in eighth.
Junior right fielder Chelsea Hawkins made it a six-way tie for 10th place with seven homers already this season. Her next ties her with four others for sixth.
Sophomore centerfielder Kristen Struett is tied for eighth with 40 RBI in a season. Her next ties her with Carrie Lyons and Shannon Gregg with 41 in a year.
Freshman left fielder Alaynie Page's next walk would put her into a three-way tie for 14th with 24, joining Meagan Donohoo and Tricia Popowski.
Both redshirt senior Kelley Dillon and Page have been hit seven times this year, tying for third on the single-season listing behind their teammate Hathorn and Kristin Hall (8, 2005).
Junior Ashlyn Masters has four sacrifice flies, tying for seventh with six others. Her next knots her with three with five in a year.
In Wins and Losses, Who Stands Out?
As a team, the Gamecocks slug .558 in wins and .318 in losses and reach base at a .445 clip in wins and just .303 in losses.
The Gamecocks have struck out 123 times in the 22 losses and just 93 in the 31 wins.
If Kristen Struett gets on base, South Carolina is successful. She holds a .449 on-base percentage in wins and a .229 mark in losses. The same could be said for Alaynie Page (.445 to .272) and Chelsea Hawkins (.398 to .264).
Audrey Broyles is 4.26 earned runs better (1.79 to 6.05) in wins than losses, while Katie Marks is 2.58 earned runs better in the same formula (2.10 to 4.68).
Julie Sarratt has a 48:33 K:BB ratio in 66 innings in wins, and a 21:23 ratio in 44.1 innings in losses.
Diving Deeper into Gamecock Pitchers
The Gamecocks have their most trouble in the fourth inning, with opponents scoring 46 runs and the staff tallying a 5.15 ERA in the middle frame.
The sixth isn't much better, with a 4.33 ERA and 34 runs scored in 43.2 innings.
Audrey Broyles has her highest strikeout rate (5.2 per 7 IP) with the bases loaded, while it's 4.4 with runners in scoring position.
With two strikes, opponents are 27-of-168 (.161) against Broyles.
Freshman Katie Marks has a strikeout rate of 14.0 with the bases loaded, 7.2 with runners in scoring position and two outs and 7.1 with runners on and two outs.
When Marks gets batters to two strikes, they are 27-of-173 (.156) at the plate.
Marks polishes off hitters at 1-2 best, with 26 of her K's coming in that count.
Redshirt sophomore Julie Sarratt also does well with runners on and two outs, with the opposition hitting .185 in those situations. They also hit .197 with runners in scoring position and two outs against Sarratt.
Sarratt's foes hit .189 against her in leadoff situations and .229 when the bases are empty.
Sarratt has escaped others' jams as well, only allowing two of the 13 runners she's inherited to score.
The Wildcats enter the weekend at 38-17 overall and with the seventh seed in the SEC Tournament after winning the series over Alabama in the last weekend of regular-season play.
Kentucky is at its best in the circle, posting the fourth-best ERA in SEC play this year at 3.20.
That's thanks to SEC All-Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley, who is 24-7 overall with a 2.01 ERA. She's struck out 170 and walked 91 in 223.1 innings.
Nunley has hit 27 batters on the season, while foes hit .216 against her.
Junior Lauren Cumbess is the second starter, posting a 4.02 ERA in 106.1 innings.
Cumbess leads the way offensively for Kentucky with her .341 batting average and 11 homers.
Sophomore Griffin Joiner tops the Wildcats with her .440 on-base percentage, .610 slugging percentage and 41 RBI. She has 10 homers.
Freshman Nikki Sagermann has a .311 batting average on the year, but she led the Wildcats with a .339 mark in SEC play, reaching base at a .456 mark.
In league outings, five Wildcats had four homers, led by Cumbess's five. Sagermann, Christian Stokes, Alice O'Brien and Maisie Steed all had four.
Freshman Sylver Samuel posted 18 stolen bases in 19 tries on the year, most on the team.
Senior Kara Dill came back as a pinch runner last weekend. She was the team's top offensive threat before an injury curtailed her year.
Ties between South Carolina and Kentucky
Two Wildcat freshmen, Samuel and Stokes, are from South Carolina, Simpsonville and Chesterfield, respectively. Both played on the same travel ball team as SC rookies Jordan Bizzell and Alaynie Page.
Some of the Gamecocks' Numbers vs. the Wildcats
Both Samie Garcia and Dana Hathorn went 4-for-10 against Kentucky earlier this year, with Garcia now hitting a team-best .393 in her three years against the Wildcats.
Garcia doubled twice in this year's series, and she hit two homers last year in Lexington.
Hathorn had the lone long ball for the Gamecocks in the series this year, while Chelsea Hawkins hit one last year.
Julie Sarratt posted a 3.50 ERA in two appearances against Kentucky this year, giving up seven runs, four earned, in eight innings.
Audrey Broyles picked up a win over the Wildcats last year, but pitched her best against them during her freshman and sophomore seasons, goving up four earned runs in 15.1 innings combined.