South Carolina baseball: SEC releases preseason predictions

The South Carolina baseball team begins its season on Feb. 19.

The South Carolina baseball team is less than two weeks away from opening day, which will come on February 19th when Mark Kingston’s group hosts Dayton. The Gamecocks will begin the year ranked in the top 25, coming in at No. 18 in the national polls. The program will look to pick up where they left off last year, when they got off to a 12-4 start before the season was shut down amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

With the season just a few days away, the Southeastern Conference has revealed its choices for the league’s all-conference performers, as well as the predicted finish for each team in the SEC standings.

See where the Gamecocks landed below.

2021 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll

Eastern Division

1. Florida (13) – 91

2. Vanderbilt (1) – 79

3. Tennessee – 58

4. South Carolina – 55

5. Georgia – 51

6. Missouri – 28

7. Kentucky – 23

Western Division

1. Ole Miss (7) – 78

2. Mississippi State (3) – 73

3. Arkansas (2) – 72

4. LSU (2) – 63

5. Texas A&M – 36

6. Auburn – 32

7. Alabama – 31

() – First place votes

SEC Champion: Florida (12), Mississippi State (1), Vanderbilt (1)

South Carolina is projected to finish fourth in the SEC East, behind league favorite Florida, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee. Florida (1) and Vanderbilt (6) are both ranked in the top 10 of the preseason polls, while Tennessee will start the year at No. 19, one spot behind the Gamecocks.

In the Western division, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, LSU, and Arkansas all rank in the top 15, with the league having a total of nine teams in the preseason polls, the most of any major conference. Florida has been picked to win the league, with Vanderbilt and Mississippi State also receiving a vote each.

As far as the all-conference teams go, the Gamecocks landed just one player on the first or second teams. Wes Clarke, who was leading the league in homeruns prior to last year’s season cancellation, was picked as a second-team performer. He was batting .286 with 22 runs batted in. Clarke has also been selected as a preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball.

Arkansas led the way with four first-team selections, while Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, LSU, and Ole Miss also had multiple players land on the all-conference teams.

2021 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team

First Team

C: Casey Opitz, Arkansas

1B: T.J. Collett, Kentucky

2B: Robert Moore, Arkansas

3B: Rankin Woley, Auburn

SS: Ryan Bliss, Auburn

OF: Jud Fabian, Florida

OF: Christian Franklin, Arkansas

OF: Tanner Allen, Mississippi State

DH/UTL: Matt Goodheart, Arkansas

SP: Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt

SP: Connor Prielipp, Alabama

RP: Devin Fontenot, LSU

Second Team

C: Hayden Dunhurst, Ole Miss

1B: Josh Hatcher, Mississippi State

2B: Max Ferguson, Tennessee

3B: Tim Elko, Ole Miss

SS: Josh Rivera, Florida

OF: Rowdey Jordan, Mississippi State

OF: Owen Diodati, Alabama

OF: Cade Beloso, LSU

DH/UTL: Wes Clarke, South Carolina

SP: Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt

SP: Tommy Mace, Florida

RP: Ben Specht, Florida