NCAA Softball News

Experience and Depth are Keys for South Carolina Softball – University of South Carolina Athletics

Experience and Depth are Keys for South Carolina Softball – University of South Carolina Athletics

South Carolina softball wants to get back where it belongs. Normally a postseason contender, the 2022 season didn’t go the way head coach Beverly Smith would have liked as the Gamecocks posted a 26-30 overall record and were just 3-21 in SEC play. In addition to recruiting and developing young talent, the Gamecocks have been aggressive in bolstering their roster to get back on track in 2023.

“The overall thought after last year was getting back to where we had been with the postseason being the focus,” said Smith, who begins her 13th season leading the program and led the Gamecocks to seven straight NCAA appearances prior to the pandemic-cancelled season of 2020.

“We did a really nice job as a coaching staff recruiting over the summer as we picked up five players from the transfer portal. The transfer portal gives you a chance to really change the way you look. That adds a ton of experience to our team which also added six freshmen, and that should give us lots of depth.”

The Gamecocks will look for leadership from its returning veterans with graduate students Jordan Fabian (below), who can play catcher or first base, pitcher Rachel Vaughan, and junior transfer outfielder Aniyah Black from Georgia.

“Jordan does a great job leading the team and has the respect of the team,” Smith said. “Rachel Vaughan is sort of the ‘mother hen’ of the team. I’ve also appreciated the efforts of Aniyah Black, who is new to the team. I’ve appreciated her willingness to speak up when it’s needed.”

“We have a lot of options to try to win a ball game, whether it’s a small-ball lineup or if we need to use our ‘bigs’ to have a more powerful lineup.”

Coach Beverly Smith
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A key component in creating more competition to get the best team on the field is in the pitching circle, where the Gamecocks not only return four arms, but also added a pair of newcomers who hope to make an impact. That includes senior transfer Donnie Gobourne, who comes to South Carolina from Florida Atlantic University where she ranked in the top 25 nationally with 9.7 strikeouts per seven innings last season, and freshman Jori Heard from Algonquin, Illinois.

“Donnie throws the ball hard!” Smith said. “She is a velocity pitcher, and I think she has made great strides in the fall. She will be a lot of fun for Gamecock fans to watch. I think you’re going to see some innings for Jori because she gives us a different look.”

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