Former Predator transfers to Francis Marion

Former Fox Creek High School multi-sport standout Danielle Payne, who was attending Aiken Technical College for softball, has transferred to Francis Marion University.

Payne posted a 16-16 record with a 2.17 earned run average and 122 strikeouts in 210 innings pitched for the Knights.

As a freshman she went 13-15 with a 2.17 ERA and 104 Ks in 174.1 IP.

Her addition is a big plus for Francis Marion head coach Stacey Vallee.

"To be honest, I'm not sure what drew her here," the coach said of her transfer to the school. "I think part of it is our new stadium, which was built last year. I'd also like to hope that I had something to do with it. I would like to help her through college and grow up as an athlete and a person, and to be the best student athlete she can be."

Vallee also works with the pitchers on the team and believes that her addition on the mound is crucial.

"The best thing is that she's a new kid, a new pitcher, and any new kid brings a vitality to the group," she said. "I like to say that pitchers touch the ball every single play, whereas my right fielder may go an entire game without a ball hit to her. She's coming into a new conference so the competition won't have seen her either. She'll join our other two pitchers, who did amazing for us last year, and hopefully be a strength of our club."

Those two pitchers are Katie Carnes and Taylor Luff. Carnes went 10-5 last year with a 1.99 ERA and 85 Ks in just 95 IP. Luff was 9-8 with a 2.13 ERA and 135 Ks in 105.1 IP.

Being in the Peach Belt Conference, Francis Marion will compete against local schools such as USC Aiken and Augusta State. Though Vallee wants to do well in the conference, she also hopes to replicate the success that her program saw in 2008. That year, the Patriots advanced to the Division II World Series.

"We always want to do well in the conference, but our goals also extend beyond that," she said. "Our conference is one of the toughest in the nation. We know that doing well in that bodes well amongst national foes. In recent years we couldn't close the door, this year we hope get back to the top."