South Carolina softball coach Beverly Smith wants her players loose. She believes they play better that way, and some of her charges really take it to heart.
Sometimes, a little too much.
That’s how she found herself, in the middle of getting interviewed by SEC Network’s Laura Rutledge on national TV, suddenly surrounded by a set of players who were diligently wrapping both interviewee and interviewer in toilet paper.
A confused Rutledge asked what was going on. A player answered curtly, in a tone showing shewas just focused on the job: Rally toilet paper.
And at another point?
“I’m sure you saw them cooking during a big inning in the dugout as well,” Smith said.
So does Smith get advance notice of the high jinks?
“I don’t want to know,” Smith said. “Because, if they asked me, I’m likely to say no. So they don’t tell me. It’s the don’t ask, don’t tell. I’m sure something’s coming, but I don’t want to know about it.”
Smith, whose team is 45-11 and will host a regional for the first time since 2002, knows to expect something. She’s coached USC for seven seasons, and led them to the NCAA Tournament the past five. This is the school’s first time hosting since 2002.
So that something quirky will happen, that’s almost a given.
“Not surprised that it’s happening,” Smith said. “Generally surprised at what it is, or what the theme is, things like that. I’m always surprised at that. I think they were cooking marshmallows in there in the last home series. There was a lighter and fire in the dugout. I don’t need to know any of that stuff.”
Her squad will head into a regional that features three other teams who’ve all won at least 40 games. Staying loose couldn’t hurt, and they’ll likely have something planned.
Likely when Smith is on national television.
“They wait until the perfect moment,” Smith said.
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday; games Saturday and Sunday
Who: USC vs. UNCG
Where: Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field
Other opening round game: Liberty-Hofstra at 5 p.m.