Matt Connolly

USC sitting pretty in SEC standings entering series with Vandy

South Carolina is 6-0 in the SEC for the first time in school history entering a series with Vanderbilt this weekend.
South Carolina is 6-0 in the SEC for the first time in school history entering a series with Vanderbilt this weekend.

South Carolina opening SEC play 6-0 puts the Gamecocks in strong position in the conference, regardless of what happens this week at Vanderbilt.

At the start of conference play, seven SEC teams were ranked in the Top 25. USC was set to face three of those teams the first three weeks of the season in No. 14 Arkansas, No. 9 Ole Miss and No. 2 Vanderbilt.

The Gamecocks will finish -- at worse -- 6-3 after the tough stretch following sweeps of the Razorbacks and Rebels.

Two weeks into the season, South Carolina has built a two-game lead in the SEC over six teams that are tied for second at 4-2.

USC coach Chad Holbrook liked his team entering the season, and is thrilled to see the Gamecocks playing up to their potential thus far.

“You never know how your kids are actually going to perform. You think you’ve got some talented kids, and you think your makeup is right… But you don’t know how far that’s going to take you when the first pitch is thrown,” he told reporters on Saturday in Oxford. “But the kids have had good make up. They’ve worked hard. They’ve got some toughness about them. They’re committed to coming out and giving their best every day.”

Holbrook pointed out that the Gamecocks got some breaks over the weekend against the Rebels and took advantage of their opportunities.

Ole Miss had 11 hits on Thursday but managed only one run, then made three errors on Friday and again on Saturday. South Carolina took advantage of the breaks and made the Rebels pay.

“This weekend, it just kind of went our way. Things sometimes in this league bounce your way, and sometimes they don’t,” Holbrook said. “The key to having a great year is when they don’t bounce your way, still finding a way to win. Over the course of the weekend, things kind of went our way.”

USC will again be on the road in a tough environment when it faces the third-ranked Commodores beginning Thursday.

The 6-0 start in SEC play – the best in school history – has the Gamecocks in good position.

Following the series with Vandy, the Gamecocks host Tennessee, travel to Georgia and host Missouri. Those three teams are 4-14 in the SEC.

The Gamecocks could’ve easily been happy after earning wins Thursday and Friday at Ole Miss, but instead scored three runs in the first inning on Saturday en route to the series sweep.

“That was the thing that I was most excited about. They came down here not satisfied with what happened (Thursday) and (Friday),” Holbrook said. “They tried to get off to a great start (Saturday). After winning the first two, that told me something even more about my team that maybe I didn’t know.”