South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook has found a starting lineup he’s comfortable with.
The Gamecocks didn’t have the same starting nine in back-to-back games all season entering SEC play, but USC used the same lineup all three games against Arkansas.
The group produced 24 runs and 34 hits in the three-game sweep of the Razorbacks.
“We’ve been a little bit more consistent over the last three or four games or so,” Holbrook said Tuesday. “There might be some juggling going on a little bit, but for the most part there’s seven or eight guys who are going to be in there about every game.”
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The current lineup features Gene Cone and LT Tolbert at the top, followed by John Jones, Alex Destino and Dom Thompson-Williams. The 3-4-5 hitters have combined for 14 home runs, 73 RBIs, and are the three leaders in batting average on the team.
Jones leads the SEC in batting average at .422, while Thompson-Williams is hitting .395 and Destino is at .364.
“I love it,” Destino said of the current lineup. “Gene and LT up top do a fantastic job of getting on base. When it comes to me, John and Dom, we’re three very confident hitters. We feed off each other.”
Thompson-Williams is followed by Jonah Bride, who is hitting only .263 but has a .408 on-base percentage, and Chris Cullen, who is tied for fourth on the team with 13 RBIs.
A couple of veterans in DC Arendas and Marcus Mooney round out the bottom of the order. Mooney is batting .313 with a .439 on-base percentage, and after a slow start Arendas has an on-base percentage of .381.
From the top of the order to the bottom, it’s hard to find an easy out.
“I like that we’ve found something that’s actually clicking for us,” Thompson-Williams said. “Everyone’s starting to settle in their role and get comfortable at the positions they’re playing.”
Holbrook said he likes the team’s depth and wants to find at-bats for TJ Hopkins, Danny Blair, Clark Scolamiero and others.
STOKES COULD BE BACK SOON
Madison Stokes was expected to start on Opening Day at one of the corner infield positions and bat fifth before suffering a foot injury in preseason scrimmages.
Holbrook said Stokes is taking batting practice and could be available within the next week.
“He had a great fall, and he’s a big, strong, physical guy that’s got some bat speed,” Holbrook said. “Obviously he has the talent and ability to be a middle of the lineup type hitter.”
USC has been performing well at the plate recently, but the addition of Stokes would give the Gamecocks added depth and another right-handed hitter.
Wil Crowe, the ace of South Carolina’s staff last season before being injured, is doing well in rehab as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.
Holbrook said he’s hopeful the right-hander will be back on the mound this summer.
“It’s our goal for him to pitch some innings this summer in a wooden bat collegiate league,” Holbrook said. “I think he’ll be 100 percent ready to do that if all goes according to plan. His bullpens have been great, and his attitude and work ethic has been fine.”
South Carolina at Ole Miss
Who: Gamecocks at Rebels
Where: Oxford-University Stadium/Swayze Field in Oxford, Miss.
When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday; 7:30 p.m. Friday; 3 p.m. Saturday
Watch: First two games on SEC Network Plus (digital); Saturday’s game on SEC Network
Listen: In Columbia area, 107.5 FM Thursday and Saturday; 1320 AM Friday