Work crews sprayed white paint this week on the recently built equipment building and changing room adjacent to the dugouts at Richard Gray Baseball Complex in Hardeeville. Saw horses remained nearby and fencing went up as USC Beaufort softball players began stretches before practice.
The finishing touches are applied. And the Sand Sharks are ready to open their inaugural season Saturday when they host Wesleyan College. The doubleheader starts at 1 p.m.
"Somebody wants to be the first home run, the first base hit, the first strikeout," second baseman Katie Rietkovich said. "Everyone wants to go in the record books. It's going to be an emotional day. We're just excited to get it rolling."
Rietkovich is one of the few Sand Sharks to bring college softball experience to opening day. The University of Georgia transfer and daughter of USCB head coach Ty Rietkovich is one of seven Sand Sharks to have already played at the college level.
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That means 21 freshmen will learn as they go, with a chance to form standards for the program.
The older players are there for guidance.
"We've kind of taught them all the ways," said redshirt sophomore Melanie Goolsby, who came from Georgia College and State University. "And everyone molded so quick. This is definitely the closest team I've played on."
Ty Rietkovich likened his recruiting process to throwing a wide net. Established programs can use a fishing pole to be selective and address needs, he said. The Sand Sharks needed everything, and that meant adjusting the recruiting process on the fly as needs arose.
The group that emerged from the fall earned praise from its scrimmage opponents for its bats throughout the order. And that's where the Sand Sharks' coach believes the first team's strength lies.
"We've worked hardest on hitting," said Rietkovich, who also is USCB's athletics director. "I think that's the one area these girls are deficient in coming from high schools; they really were not prepared for what they would face at the collegiate level."
Freshman pitcher Kristy Cook is expected to start Saturday against Wesleyan. The right-hander from Brooks, Ga., said she was drawn to USCB in part for its proximity to the beach.
The arrival of game week ended months of fidgeting. A team meeting Tuesday to discuss Saturday's games generated a buzz.
"My adrenaline went up just talking about it,' Cook said. "I can't imagine the adrenaline I'm going to have Saturday morning when I wake up. I guarantee you I'm not going to sleep Friday night."
Wesleyan should ease USCB into its first season. The school was 1-29 last season and was shut out 19 times.
"I'm sure they're excited about playing a first-year team," Ty Rietkovich said. "We're just excited about playing."
2012 USC BEAUFORT SOFTBALL ROSTER
No. Name Position B/T Class Hometown/Previous School
00 Caitlin Vaughn C R/R Jr. Irmo/USC Sumter
1 Barbara Phillips OF L/R Fr. Marietta, Ga./St. Francis HS
2 Samantha Boland INF R/R Fr. Irmo/Chapin HS
3 Cara Jamerson P/INF R/R Fr. Inman/Chapman HS
4 Brittney Willbanks INF R/R Fr. McDonough, Ga./Union Grove HS
5 Chelsey Blasingame UTIL R/R Fr. Irmo/Dutch Fork HS
7 Kristy Cook P R/R Fr. Brooks, Ga./Whitewater HS
8 Paige Adams INF R/R Jr. Moncks Corner/USC Sumter
9 Amber Allen OF R/R Fr. Lexington/Lexington HS
10 Caroline Pastre P R/R Soph. Summerville/Spartanburg Methodist
12 Melanie Goolsby OF R/R Soph. Richmond Hill, Ga./Georgia College and State
13 Rebekah Herty INF R/R Soph. Hilton Head Isl./Hilton Head High
14 Mariaha Sanborn INF R/R Fr. Eastover/Spring Valley HS
15 Amanda Brown C R/R Fr. Winter Springs, Fla./Winter Springs HS
16 Maddie Byrd INF L/R Fr. Bogart, Ga./North Oconee HS
17 Victoria Hilton P/INF R/R Soph. Savannah/Young Harris College
18 Lauren Hill OF R/R Fr. Harrisburg, N.C./Hickory Ridge HS
19 Kasey Pate OF R/R Fr. Troy, N.C./West Montgomery HS
20 Jasmon Russell UTIL R/R Fr. Villa Rica, Ga./Villa Rica HS
21 Taylor Triplett INF R/R Fr. Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta HS
22 Kalin Martin UTIL R/R Fr. Guyton, Ga./Effingham County HS
23 Jordan Abercrombie UTIL L/R Fr. Conway, S.C./Carolina Forest HS
24 Erin Wilson UTIL R/R Jr. Pooler, Ga./Georgia Perimeter
27 Hailey Grimoskas P R/R Fr. West Columbia, S.C./Airport HS
32 Sammi Shaffren OF L/R Fr. Lawrenceville, Ga./Peachtree Ridge HS
41 Shelby Zipperer OF R/R Fr. Guyton, Ga./South Effingham HS
81 Katie Rietkovich INF R/R Soph. Guyton, Ga./Georgia
99 Kalie Hastings INF R/R Fr. Marietta, Ga./Walton HS
Head coach: Ty Rietkovich (first year)
Assistant coach: Laura Heberling (first year)
2012 USCB SOFTBALL SCHEDULE
Home games in CAPS
(DH) -- doubleheader
#Smash Hit tournament hosted by USCB
Feb. 11 WESLEYAN COLLEGE (DH) 1 p.m.
Feb. 18 FISHER COLLEGE (DH) 11 a.m.
Feb. 19 FISHER COLLEGE (DH) Noon
Feb. 23 at Edward Waters (DH) 2 p.m.
Feb. 24 EMMANUEL COLLEGE (DH) 3 p.m.
Feb. 25 EMMANUEL COLLEGE (DH) 1 p.m.
March 1 GEORGETOWN (Ky.) (DH)# 2 p.m.
March 4 vs. Findlay# 10 a.m.
March 4 vs. Walsh# Noon
March 5 vs. Malone# 2 p.m.
March 5 vs. Walsh# 4 p.m.
March 9 WARNER* 5 p.m.
March 10 vWARNER
March 13 COLUMBIA COLLEGE (DH) 3 p.m.
March 14 vs. Avila# 3 p.m.
March 14 vs. St. Ambrose# 5 p.m.
March 16 at Webber International* 5 p.m.
March 17 at Webber International
March 21 at Voorhees (DH) 1 p.m.
March 23 NORTHWOOD
March 24 NORTHWOOD
March 26 NEWBERRY (DH) 3 p.m.
March 30 at St. Thomas* 5 p.m.
March 31 at St. Thomas
April 4 VOORHEES (DH) 1 p.m.
April 10 at Columbia College (DH) 4 p.m.
April 18 at Thomas (DH) 4 p.m.
April 20 AVE MARIA* 5 p.m.
April 21 AVE MARIA
April 25 EDWARD WATERS (DH) 3 p.m.
April 28 at SCAD Savannah
April 29 at SCAD Savannah* 1 p.m.
May 4-6 Sun Conference Tournament
May 17-23 NAIA National Championship (Gulf Shores, Ala.)