South Carolina wrapped up its second weekend of preseason scrimmages Sunday afternoon, and Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook announced a couple of players are dealing with injuries.
USC catcher Hunter Taylor, who was named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament team last season, has a hairline fracture in his collar bone, while junior college transfer Chase DeMars has a broken hamate bone.
Taylor was injured on Friday while catching when a foul ball hit him, while DeMars’ injury occurred on Saturday.
“(Chase will) see a doctor tomorrow and we’ll see,” Holbrook said. “Those injuries can be three to four weeks or it could be four to six. We’ll have to see the extent of that. We won’t know that until early in the week.”
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Holbrook hopes to have Taylor back for the opening weekend of the season when the Gamecocks host UNC Greensboro in a three-game series beginning Feb. 17.
“We don’t think it’s going to keep him out too long, but maybe a couple of weeks,” Holbrook said. “We don’t know at this time, but he’s in a sling for the next several days. Hopefully, he’ll respond pretty good to treatment and be ready to go come opening weekend.”
Holbrook was much more pleased with his team’s play in practices and scrimmages this past week than he was after the first week of workouts.
He saw progress at the plate, on the mound and defensively.
“We just needed to make some improvements and we did. Much better at-bats for the most part and played better defense. We’re not perfect by any stretch right now, but we did have some good improvement and did some good things,” he said. “We needed to play a little bit and practice with a little more sense of urgency and heightened awareness, and all of those things we talk about around here daily, and we did that this week.”
Several veterans are playing well in the preseason, but some newcomers are also impressing Holbrook.
USC’s coach mentioned freshman first baseman Riley Hogan, freshman pitcher Sawyer Bridges and junior college transfer infielder Justin Row as pleasant surprises.
“Riley Hogan really played well this weekend. He swung the bat extremely well. He’s got a bright future, obviously, in our program. Sawyer Bridges threw the ball exceptionally well. His velocity is up a tick from how he performed in the fall. ... Justin Row continues to make an impact. He’s a good offensive player. He can play a number of positions. He handles the bat well. We’re getting to see him play a little bit more now that he’s healthy and he’s made a positive impression,” Holbrook said.
NO DECISION YET
Juniors Clarke Schmidt and Wil Crowe continue to battle for South Carolina’s Friday starting pitching job.
Schmidt started on Friday last season, while Crowe did so for the first half of the 2015 season before being sidelined with an injury.
Both righties have said it’s their goal to open the season as the Friday starter. Schmidt in particular pitched well this past Friday.
Holbrook said he could make his decision early this week or after the two throw in one more scrimmage.
“Clarke was probably as dominant as I’ve seen him here on Friday. A very, very clean outing with terrific velocity and great command of his off-speed pitches. He was flawless. Wil threw fine. ... I can’t go wrong. They’re both terrific,” Holbrook said. “Clarke and Wil are 1 and 1A. I’m just going to get in a room by myself and turn out the lights and make a decision, I guess. You know what, if I pick Wil or Clarke, I picked the right one. That gives me some peace at night.”