#16 South Carolina Baseball 2018 Preview

South Carolina Gamecocks
Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #7 SEC
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It is a new era in Columbia for the South Carolina Gamecock Baseball program heading into the 2018 season. Mark Kingston is the new head coach for South Carolina as he comes over a successful stint at South Florida and will be taking over for Chad Holbrook. The 2018 season should also bring back a highly motivated Gamecock squad that will be looking to atone for missing the 2017 NCAA Tournament. It was an uphill battle all year long for South Carolina last season.
2017: 35-25, 13-17
2017 Postseason: None
Coach: Mark Kingston
Key Departed Players:
Clarke Schmidt, P, 1.34 ERA, 60.1 IP, 18 BB, 70 SO
Will Crowe, P, 3.41 ERA, 92.1 IP, 31 BB, 90 SO
Tyler Johnson, P, 2.39 ERA, 26.1 IP, 15 BB, 40 SO, 10 SV
Josh Reagan, P, 2.72 ERA, 56.1 IP, 19 BB, 51 SO
Key Returning Players:
Jacob Olson, UTIL, .294 BA, 6 HR, 27 RBI
Carlos Cortes, IF, OF, .286 BA, 12 HR, 41 RBI
LT Tolbert, IF, .284 BA, 3 HR, 32 RBI
Jonah Bride, IF, .282 BA, 5 HR, 32 RBI
TJ Hopkins, OF, .258 BA, 5 HR, 20 RBI
Chris Cullen, C, .276 BA, 5 HR, 18 RBI
Aaron Hill, P, 3.04 ERA, 77.0 IP, 39 BB, 87 SO
Cody Morris, P, 3.66 ERA, 39.1 IP, 8 BB, 47 SO
It is going to be up to a very highly touted recruiting and the returning draft eligible veteran players offensively to lead the Gamecocks in 2018. Jacob Olson and Carlos Cortes both had solid 2017 seasons as they combined for 18 homeruns and 68 runs batted in. But, for South Carolina to get back to postseason, they need to progress in all phases at the plate. LT Tolbert, Jonah Bride, and TJ Hopkins are also back in the everyday lineup and they will playing to improve their draft stock as all three guys have some power but also have room for improvement at the plate. On the mound is where it will be fascinating to see what happens for the Gamecocks. Aaron Hill is back and should be the ace after the departures of Clarke Schmidt and Will Crowe to the 2017 MLB Draft. Cody Morris should be in the mix to fill a weekend rotation slot. Morris did a nice job commanding his pitches and only walked eight batters in 39.1 innings of work. The conference schedule, while difficult, does bring most of the elite teams in the SEC to Columbia. Florida comes to town for the first series of SEC play and that will be a heck of a challenge for this young South Carolina team. LSU and Ole Miss also come to Columbia for weekend series in SEC play. So, if the Gamecocks can hold their own at home, then they will be in great shape to get back to the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament