Baseball Team Needs to Show Strength This Weekend


The South Carolina baseball has won more games in the past 15 years than all but one team in college baseball.  They’ve also won two championships in the previous five seasons.  There have been a lot of players move on to the major leagues , and with all of that, the expectations tend to rise quite a bit as well.  Last season the team exited the postseason earlier than anticipated and that raised some concerns.  The lost some great players at the end of last season again, but they re-loaded over the fall and were poised to have a great season, being ranked in the top 20, and even top 10 in one poll.

However, as with any team with new players on it, the start to the season has not gone quite as planned.  An opening day loss to College of Charleston and then losing the series to Clemson for the first time in five years, including being shutout at home for the first time in over 40 years seemed to throw a cloud over the team.  After losing to Clemson in the final game, there seemed to be a lot of frustration on the part of some of the players, and definitely with Coach Chad Holbrook.  Holbrook vowed that changes would be necessary to move this team in the direction he knew it should be going.

Those changes never came, however the Gamecocks got exactly what they needed with games this week against Charleston Southern and High Point.  The offense came alive in both games, scoring 10 and 11 runs respectively and many players got on board, showing Coach Holbrook what he knew they were capable of.  The team is now 9-3 overall on the season, and still ranked 8th in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Elliott Caldwell is still leading the team with .424 average, but Gene Cone is now right behind him at .404 and both guys have an on base percentage of over .500.  Max Shrock decided to finally hit the ball instead of being walked all the time, and brought his average up over 50 points to .243 for the season.  Freshman Alex Destino is leading the team in total bases with 26, and he and Kyle Martin are at the top in RBI, with 13 and 14 respectively.

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That’s not to say there still aren’t some players struggling offensively.  Logan Koch, Hunter Taylor, and Madison Stokes are a combined 9 for 56 or .161 batting average.  Connor Bright hasn’t exactly caught fire yet either, batting .216 overall and leading the team in strikeouts with eight.

Overall, the team seemed to be clicking a lot better the past two games.  This weekend series at home is really the chance to fine tune things and really get everyone together.  Miami, OH is 2-5 so far this season, and hasn’t really produced much at all from the plate.  The Gamecocks can take advantage of that to really hold them down with good pitching, and not put pressure on the hitters and just allow them to go up there and get comfortable at the plate.  The need to continue to figure out how to produce runs in different ways, because they’ll need that when they start to go up against better teams.  And with SEC play starting next week against Kentucky, this is definitely the time to figure everything out.

The offensive play from the previous two games needs to continue this weekend, and from the entire team, not just a couple players.  Coach Holbrook needs to see that some of these other guys can contribute, and get them more opportunities at the plate.  Some of the freshman who have struggled so far, like Taylor and Stokes, could use this chance to really find their groove, and better now against Miami than in a few weeks against Vandy or Florida.

The Gamecocks clearly have potential and great players, this weekend is really their opportunity to believe that themselves and build their confidence as they head into the meat of their schedule and SEC games.  South Carolina and Miami, OH play Friday night at 7pm, Saturday at 4pm and Sunday at 1:30pm at Carolina Stadium.