South Carolina Baseball: Gamecock pitcher put on preseason award watch list

South Carolina baseball reliever Chris Veach has been put on the preseason watch list for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award.
South Carolina baseball pitcher Chris Veach
South Carolina baseball pitcher Chris Veach / Cyndi Chambers / USA TODAY NETWORK

South Carolina baseball will begin its season on Friday when the Miami (OH) Redhawks come to Columbia for a 3-game series.

The first pitch of the 2024 campaign is highly anticipated as the Gamecocks are in the unique situation of returning a lot of contributors from last year's team while also welcoming a lot of help from new faces who were injured last year or entered the program from the transfer portal or the high school ranks.

One of the highest-profile returners on the team is closer Chris Veach. Veach, who transferred in from Presbyterian last year, was one of the biggest surprises on the team in 2023 as he quickly took over the late-innings role for Mark Kingston's team.

With a repetoire built on a nasty change-up and a nice breaking ball, the junk-throwing Veach is not the typical closer in style, but he has the "closer attitude." Veach is cocky in the best way on the mound, and if he picks up a big strikeout, he will make sure everyone knows about it. His confidence is key to his success and has made him a fan favorite.

Now that the expectations for Veach have increased, he has a lot more eyes on him. This week, he was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year preseason watch list, an award given to the country's top reliever.

There have been some injuries for the Gamecocks to deal with this offseason, and Veach spent much of the offseason rehabbing from a hip issue that flared up last season. He seems to be healthy and ready to go, though, and he will play a big role for new pitching coach Matt Williams.

Veach also dabbles as an infielder, but he played sparingly early in the season last year and not at all down the stretch, so it doesn't seem like a prominent role as a position player is in the cards for him. He was a good hitter at PC, but with South Carolina baseball's improved depth, the possibility of him doing anything but pitch seems small.

Last year, Chris Veach had 32 strikeouts in just 26 innings and had a 3.46 ERA and a .174 batting average against.

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