South Carolina baseball coach Chad Holbrook spoke with 107.5 FM on Tuesday and said he’s still confident the Gamecocks can finish the season strong, even without ace Clarke Schmidt.
Tuesday morning it was announced that Schmidt will undergo Tommy John surgery and is out for the season.
“I told our team last night, and I believe it. … We’ve had some tough luck go our way, but if we can get in the postseason, which we’re in position to do, we can be one of the last teams, if not the last team standing,” Holbrook said. “I truly believe it. We’ve got to keep fighting, keep plugging, and hopefully we can get some good fortune along the way. I feel good that something’s going to happen to this group.”
Without Schmidt, South Carolina will start junior Wil Crowe on Friday, and Adam Hill moving to Saturday.
USC is unsure who it will start on Sunday, and it could depend on how the bullpen shakes out earlier in the weekend.
In addition to South Carolina’s weekend starters, Cody Morris, Graham Lawson, John Parke, Sawyer Bridges and Brandon Murray have started games this season. Morris has the most midweek starts with six, while Lawson is second with two.
Morris, along with relievers Colie Bowers, Josh Reagan, Reed Scott, Colby Lee and Tyler Johnson have ERAs under 4.00.
“We’ll throw Wil Crowe out there on Friday night, and Clarke will be his biggest fan in the dugout,” Holbrook said. “Wil has started on Friday nights in this league before, and he certainly has that experience. We like our chances with Wil. Adam Hill will move up to Saturday and what we do on Sunday will probably be determined by how we use our bullpen the first two games. We have a host of options that we could start on Sunday, and all of them are very, very good and very, very talented kids that will give us a chance to win.”
Holbrook said he believes his pitching staff is ready to step up and contribute.
“When you have an injury like this, you can feel sorry for yourself or you can have the attitude that someone has to step up and fill Clarke’s shoes,” he said. “It might not be one person, it might be three, four, five guys that step into that role, and hopefully the team will rally around Clarke, and the team will rally around each other and create some momentum here.”
USC will need to play well this weekend to beat a Kentucky team that has a two-game lead in the SEC East.
The Wildcats are 12-6 in the league and lead Florida by two games and South Carolina and Vanderbilt by three.
“We’re one weekend away from being in first place in the SEC (East). If we can create some momentum here on Friday night and a Friday-night atmosphere, maybe that’ll set us up for a great finish to our season,” Holbrook said. “We’ve lost some tough ones, but we’ve got 12 games left in the SEC and 16 or so overall. We’ve got a chance to make up some of those tough losses, and it starts this weekend against Kentucky. We’ve got the SEC East leader coming in here. We love to play at home. A lot of teams don’t like to come in here and play us at Founders Park. We’re going to need to make it very, very difficult on Kentucky.”