South Carolina baseball released its schedule on Wednesday. Here are some observations:
First weekend test will come vs. Clemson
South Carolina’s opponents for the opening two weekends of the season should not provide much of a challenge because the Gamecocks will face a VMI team that finished 24-34 last season and a Charleston Southern team that went 22-29.
Charlotte, Winthrop and Furman will provide decent midweek tests. All three mid-majors had winning records a year ago, but the first true test for USC will come the first weekend in March against Clemson.
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Tough welcome to the SEC
Mark Kingston’s first SEC series will be against a tough opponent when the Gamecocks play defending national champion Florida. The Gators return a ton of talent and are expected to reach Omaha and contend for the national title again in 2018.
Florida is attempting to be the first repeat national champion since South Carolina in 2010-2011.
USC does get the Gators at home. The two teams split a pair of games the last time Florida came to Columbia before Game 3 was rained out.
Looking for revenge
The April 3 game against North Carolina will be a big one for the Gamecocks, who were embarrassed the past two seasons by North Carolina’sdouble-digit wins in Charlotte.
North Carolina is projected to make the College World Series in 2018, and the Gamecocks could boost their NCAA tournament resume, regain bragging rights and remove some of the pain from the past two years with a win.
South Carolina’s SEC West opponents are Arkansas, LSU, Ole Miss and Texas A&M. All four of those matchups will take place in the final six weekends of the regular season with the Gamecocks traveling to Texas A&M and Arkansas.
Three of those teams made the NCAA tournament, with Ole Miss being left out. LSU and Texas A&M made the College World Series, joining Florida, as three of the eight CWS participants from last year are on USC’s 2018 schedule.
Holbrook back in Columbia
Former USC coach Chad Holbrook will return to Columbia on May 9 when his College of Charleston Cougars face the Gamecocks at Spirit Communications Park.
The matchup will be hyped up as Holbrook against his former team, but Holbrook tweeted that the game will be Cougars vs. Gamecocks, not Holbrook vs. Gamecocks, and it is a great thing for his players.