I know it was just an opening weekend series against an overmatched opponent. I also know that we will have to see how Wil Crowe and Joel Seddon handle the Tiggers and the SEC before booking any flights to Omaha. Regardless, you still had to leave the first three games of 2014 excited about the possibilities that lie ahead.
Carolina has struggled like everyone else in the last couple of years to produce runs. We top 40 in the first weekend set! Pankake, Martin, Greiner and Schrock are an intimidating group of bats in any lineup. So we have more power complementing our lightning speed on the base paths. Then there are our starters on the mound. Jordan “Gumby” Montgomery opened up looking every bit the ace we need him to be. Jack Wynkoop and Crowe really could give us one of the SEC’s best starting rotations.
I am usually not one to get ahead of things with bold predictions and I won’t start that here. But I will say that based on what we have seen and what we expect, this should be a VERY tough baseball team to beat. Are there land mines out there that could blow that up? Of course there are. Clemson looks like they have their best team in a while and the SEC is loaded as always with 8 in the top 25 this week.
One intangible I am happy this team has is that bad taste in the mouth from giving away the Super Regional last year at Chapel Hill. We were CLEARLY the better team and lost, but remember my favorite Frank Howard quote… “I don’t want the best team to win. I want my team to win.” So I sense that we will play with extra fire and intensity this year.
Another intangible is that Coach Holbrook has to be eager to take his first Omaha trip as a Head Coach. Every Gamecock fan on earth is thankful he is the guy who replaced Coach Tanner. But that spot brings with it the extra pressure of continuing what Coach Tanner built in Columbia. Coach Holbrook is the man to make sure that happens. He will get us back to Omaha for sure and I hope it’s this year.
After all, in College Baseball, the difference between total failure and complete success can be a couple of runs and bad bounces as we saw with the Heels last year. We are due for a couple of fortunate bounces this year in my opinion.
But even though I am cautiously optimistic and excited, I will keep it calm for now. Before we start dancing around and boasting, let’s see how that weekend against the Upstate Udders goes and then watch a couple of conference weekends. Then we can start discussing things like Super Regionals and Omaha.
It is a great time to be a GAMECOCK!