South Carolina Softball Brings Aboard Four in Fall Signing Period

Nov. 14, 2011

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GAMECOCK SOFTBALL
November 14, 2011
Coach Smith

COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina has inked four players for its 2012 class to National Letters of Intent, head coach Beverly Smith announced today. Signing NLIs are South Carolina natives and outfielders Ansley Ard and Alaynie Page, Hartsville, S.C., catcher Jordan Bizzell and Katy, Texas, pitcher Katie Marks, who will begin their Gamecock careers with the 2013 spring season.

"We've signed a class of four excellent athletes," said Smith. "Katie comes to us with a great deal of experience. And with Ansley, Alaynie and Jordan, I think we did a great job of getting some of the top athletes out of South Carolina. They are adding a lot of depth to our position play. They can all play multiple positions and run well and hit well. They will improve us offensively."

Ard, a 5-8 outfielder from Sumter, S.C., is a three-time all-state honoree in softball and has earned nine South Carolina Independent School Association all-state honors altogether (basketball, two; track, three; and volleyball, one) at Wilson Hall High School. Playing for coach Teresa Alexander, Ard was twice named the Barons' female athlete of the year, becoming the first sophomore in school history to claim the honor. A finalist for South Carolina's Wendy's High School Heisman, she won the SCISA shot put competition at the 2011 state meet. On the diamond, her Southern Force travel-ball team claimed the Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament in Boulder, Colo., hitting a three-run homer in the finals. Off the field, Ard is a three-time honor-roll member.

Bizzell has started on the Hartsville High School team since her seventh-grade year, and she's made the High School Sports Report All-State team twice. Last season, she posted a .546 batting average with 13 home runs and 22 RBIs for Bobby Sowell's Lady Red Foxes. A 5-4 catcher/infielder, Bizzell has led her Carolina Elite travel ball team to top-10 finishes at ASA nationals. Tony Genovese and Adrienne Nix coached those Carolina Elite teams on which Bizzell played. A standout student, Bizzell has maintained her better than 3.0 GPA at Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology.

A 5-11 pitcher from Katy, Texas, Marks earned first-team all-district honors in 2011 under Kalum Haack's guidance at Katy High School. Marks has been a part of three-consecutive trips to the Class 5A Region III semifinals with the Lady Tigers and made the Houston Chronicle's All-Greater Houston second team. A two-time all-district honoree, Marks has helped the Texas Impact Gold travel ball team to two second-place showings in big events, including the Premiere 18U Gold Nationals and the Colorado Fireworks event. Off the field, Marks earned a student of the month award and the biology student of the year.

Page, a 5-6 switch-hitting infielder/outfielder from Boiling Springs, S.C., earned 2011 MaxPreps Junior All-America honors after hitting .441 with 10 homers and 43 RBI last season for Boiling Springs High School. Her Bulldogs teams have made back-to-back 4A upper state championship appearances, losing to the eventual state champs both years. A two-time coaches association all-state honoree, Page has claimed three-straight all-region and all-area awards, the latter from the Spartanburg Herald Journal. That paper also named Page its Player of the Year in 2011 as she posted an on-base percentage of .521 and a slugging percentage of .931. She played on the same Carolina Elite teams as Bizzell.

Of note, the three players from inside the Palmetto State are all Gamecock fans. "It's tremendous to sign these South Carolina players," commented Smith. "They were raised Gamecocks. Their parents are Gamecock fans. They will bring a great amount of passion to our team."

The Gamecocks open up the 2012 softball season at home in early February, with the full schedule being released later at GamecocksOnline.com.