#9 South Carolina Baseball 2017 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks
Overall Rank: #9
Conference Rank: #4 SEC
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Following an open game loss to fourth seeded Rhode Island in the NCAA Tournament, South Carolina had to take the hard road the Super Regional round. The Gamecocks beat Duke, Rhode Island and UNC Wilmington twice and hosted Oklahoma State in the Super Regionals, but their offense stalled and they lost 5-1 and 3-1. This time around South Carolina will be in those close games again thanks to a superb pitching staff. Clarke Schmidt started 17 games last season and went 9-5 with a 3.40 ERA. The return of Wil Crowe will help ease the pain of the loss of Braden Webb. Crowe missed much of the 2015 season and the entire 2016 campaign with an elbow injury. As a freshman back in 2014, Crowe went 8-3 with a 2.75 ERA and earned some Freshman All-American accolades. With a bullpen that includes Josh Reagan and Tyler Johnson, the Gamecocks will be extremely tough to score against.
2016: 46-18, 20-9
2016 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chad Holbrook
Key Departed Players:
Braden Webb, P, 3.09 ERA, 102.0 IP, 128 SO
Gene Cone, .363 BA, 4 HR, 30 RBI
Dom Thompson-Williams, .321 BA, 8 HR, 41 RBI
Marcus Mooney, .314 BA, 1 HR, 29 RBI
Key Returning Players:
Clarke Schmidt, P, 3.40 ERA, 111.1 IP, 129 SO
Josh Reagan, P, 2.08 ERA, 56.1 IP, 50 SO, 11 SV
Tyler Johnson, P, 2.42 ERA, 52.0 IP, 59 SO, 9 SV
Alex Destino, OF, .321 BA, 10 HR, 59 RBI
Jonah Bride, IF, .283 BA, 2 HR, 32 RBI
John Jones, C, .269 BA, 7 HR, 49 RBI
The Gamecocks have some work to do at the plate, but Alex Destino is a great player to build around. He belted ten homeruns and batted .321. Destino has garnered some All-American accolades heading into the 2017 campaign and South Carolina will need him to live up to those expectations if they are going to reach the College World Series. Catcher John Jones will add more power to the lineup after belting seven homeruns with 49 RBIs in 2016. Jonah Bride and TJ Hopkins are both solid hitters who bring plenty of speed to the batting order as well. The Gamecocks had a pretty dangerous lineup last season, but replacing Gene Cone and Dom Thompson-Williams will be an issue. Those two led the team in hits and South Carolina needs to consistently get players on base if they are going to take advantage of their stellar pitching and win those low scoring games.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Madness 2017 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#52 Rian Haire
Madness 2017 Draft Rankings:
#42 Will Crowe
#47 Clarke Schmidt
#83 Tyler Johnson