Nov. 8, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. ---- South Carolina softball and head coach Beverly Smith proudly announced four future Gamecocks signed their national letters of intent on Wednesday. Haley Simpson, Rachel Vaughan, Karly Heath and Madison Owens all signed their NLI and are set to join the Gamecocks next year.
“This is a great signing class for South Carolina softball,” Smith said. “These four players have been committed to South Carolina for a long time and it’s a very talented group. I like everything that they bring. My first left-handed pitcher is in this class. We have a lot of athleticism and speed in this class as well as three left-handed hitters so that adds a lot of lefty power to the line up.
“Overall I appreciate their love and passion for the Gamecocks. I think this is a group that will add a lot to the locker room with their personality and their passion to play the game. So I’m excited for them to get here and wear the garnet and black.”
Carolina is coming off a 34-25 season in which it finished ranked No. 25 in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association/USA Today Poll. The 2017 season saw South Carolina advance to the regional final for the third time under Smith while the team posted the fifth-best slugging percentage in school history (.430) and tied for the the third-most home runs in a single season (45).
Rachel joins the Gamecocks from Senoia, Ga., where she attended East Coweta High School. Vaughan picked Carolina over Georgia Tech and College of Charleston. During the last four years, Vaughan was named to the All-County Team her freshman and sophomore years and the All-State Team her sophomore and junior years.
Vaughan walks away from East Coweta High School with numerous single season and career records, including the best winning percentage in school history (.890) and the lowest ERA (.967). Vaughan notably helped lead her squad to the GHSA 7A State Championship in 2017 with a 16-0 record that included a low .613 ERA. She struck out 110 batters and walked just 14.
While lettering in softball, she also was a member of the BETA Club, FCA and the National Honor Society.
Karly joins Carolina from North Augusta, S.C., where she attended North Augusta High School. Heath picked Carolina over Virginia, Presbyterian and the University of North Carolina. During the last four years, Heath was named to the All-Region and All-State teams, was named the Regional Player of the Year (freshman-junior year), Statewide Player of the Year her junior year and the 4A Player of the Year her junior season.
In 2017, Heath appeared in 18 games in the circle where she produced with an impressive 14-1 record that included a .343 ERA. She struck out an outrageous 145 batters and hit just one.
While lettering in softball six years, she was also a member of the BETA Club, Spanish Club, Buddy Club, Teacher Cadet and Homecoming Court.
Haley joins the Gamecocks from Cumming, Ga., where she attended North Forsyth High School. Simpson picked the Gamecocks over a selection of other SEC programs. During the last four years, she was named to the Georgia Dugout Club, All-State Team, the Defensive Player of the Year and the All-Region and All-County teams.
In 2017, Simpson hit .341 on 29 hits with 30 runs scored. She produced with 16 RBIs and showed a good eye at the plate with 13 walks.
While lettering in softball for four years, she also lettered in basketball, track and swimming. Non-softball honors include a sectional qualifier in the 4X100, finishing second in Region 5-7A for long jump and a state qualifier in the long jump. She was also named to the Academic Honor Roll.
Madison joins South Carolina from Dillon, S.C., where she attended Latta High School. Owens picked the Gamecocks over USC Upstate and Furman. During her high school career, she was named the MVP all four years, was a five-time All-State Honoree and was the Florence Morning News 2017 Player of the Year.
In 2017, Owens hit .546 on 38 hits with 42 runs scored and 45 RBIs. She showed she has plenty of pop in her bat with nine home runs on the season. During her time at Latta High School, she helped lead her squad to two state championships.
Outside of softball, she is the current Salutatorian, a member of the National Honor Society, and scored a perfect score on the International Baccalaureate Math Studies Exam.
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