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Alana Vawter Aims To Continue Transfer Magic At South Carolina

alana vawter photo by south carolina athletics.jpg
(Photo by South Carolina Athletics)

You know she’s an All-American. You know she has a changeup that will buckle your knees even when you know it’s coming. And you know she’s the type of pitcher who can propel her team to the Women’s College World Series since she just helped Stanford return to Oklahoma City for the first time since 2004.

But what you may not know is how to pronounce her name. So let’s set the record straight before we detail her time at Stanford, her decision to transfer and what she wants out of her final year of NCAA eligibility.

It’s Alana (uh-LANE-uh) Vawter.

“I thought this would be a good time to call it out,” Vawter light-heartedly told Softball America. “I think a lot of people say ‘uh-LAWN-uh,’ and I don’t think anybody really knows any differently. I just thought it’d be something (to know) if people are getting to know me.”

Vawter has always seen the bigger picture of what it means to be a collegiate athlete. It is an opportunity for student-athletes to prioritize their academics and set themselves up for success in life, while also playing the sport they love. That’s why she committed to Stanford many moons ago, as it harvested a culture of excellence inside the classroom and head coach Jessica Allister expected the same out of her players on the field.

Therefore, obtaining a degree in Management Science and Engineering while playing under Allister was already a dream come true for Vawter. But being able to help the Cardinal return to the Women’s College World Series in 2023 and make a national semifinals appearance filled her heart with gratitude for the little softball player she once was.

“The World Series was amazing and definitely a full circle (moment) for all of us young softball girls who dreamed about playing on the biggest stage ever,” Vawter said.

While staying on “The Farm,” a nickname for Stanford, and being able to help the Cardinal return to Oklahoma City for a second straight year would have been ideal to Vawter, that is not how it panned out. With Stanford being one of the most prestigious schools in the country and having a limited number of spots in each of its master’s programs, Vawter did not get accepted into her program of choice. That reality was not easy for her to accept, but Vawter still found comfort in knowing she left Stanford's softball program better than she found it.

“To turn a program around was definitely a challenge, but Coach Allister and the coaching staff put us to work every day and we were able to do just that,” Vawter said. “So, to see where the program is at now, I know in my heart that that program is exactly where it needs to be.”

With Vawter being in the last class that played in the shortened 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she has an extra year of NCAA eligibility remaining and had a decision to make. Understanding the positive impact obtaining another degree could have on her future career, along with having the opportunity to play one more year of the sport she loves, Vawter entered the transfer portal to explore her options.

In Vawter’s hunt for a new home, she had a list of criteria that needed to be met with academics being at the forefront. The criteria for the three-time All-Pac 12 honoree outside of academics was that the university needed to provide a different experience from Stanford so she could try something new, had a pitching coach that would help her build off of what she learned from Tori Nyberg and would provide the opportunity for her to develop as an all-around player.

Vawter’s answer to that riddle was the University of South Carolina.

“The coaching staff and I had really great conversations,” Vawter said. “They really sold me on the fact that I can be the softball player that I've kind of wanted to be my whole life.”

Academically, South Carolina allows Vawter the opportunity to earn her master’s in Sports Entertainment and Management in a year and pursue an MBA the following year.

From the pitching aspect of her requirements, it wasn’t only the coaching staff that assured Vawter they’d be able to further develop her, but also 2023 All-SEC First-Team honoree Donnie Gobourne. Gobourne was a transfer who developed a changeup and became one of the nation’s most electric strikeout pitchers after only one year under South Carolina head coach Beverly Smith.

“Looking at the success that Donnie had is insane and so incredible that Coach Bev and her were able to work together to be able to have such a successful season,” Vawter said.  “(Gobourne) had nothing but amazing things to say about Coach Bev from the person she is (and) the pitching coach she is.”

Finally, South Carolina gave her the opportunity to play in SEC country where stadiums sell out and rivalries run deep.

“I definitely think of the SEC as the long-ball hitters (who have) pride in their offensive lineups,” Vawter said. “Being able to be a new pitcher that they've never seen before is definitely exciting.”

But the adrenaline that comes from big crowds is not the only thing she’s looking forward to. Vawter wants the opportunity to inspire more young girls.

“There's a greater purpose and I have found that I love inspiring the next generation,” Vawter said. “I definitely want to be the softball player that little girls look up to and say they want to be her one day.”


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