Truthfully we're well beyond that halfway point of the season, having completed 33 of 56 games. Still, perhaps a better juncture for this piece would be after this weekend's Florida series, which will mark the halfway point of the SEC regular season. Nevermind—we surge forward on the shoulders of arbitrary timing and size up our season thus far.
SEC RECORD: 8-4
FLUOR FIELD RECORD: 0-2 NO MORE FLUOR FIELD GAMES PLS
ANDY DEMETRA TOLERANCE: WANING
GRAHAM SAIKO NAME IMPRESSIVENESS: STILL VERY IMPRESSIVE
Hm gee I dunno lemme think. Maybe it's LB Dantzler, who leads the team in average, hits, homeruns, runs scored, RBIs, slugging, doubles, total bases, and is tied for the lead in walks. Seriously, he's done a tremendous job stepping in for Christian Walker as the lineup's offensive cornerstone. He does lead the team in K's, but as the 2013 Atlanta Braves have thus far proved, you'll take the K's with the XBHs.
Rather than pegging a Least Valuable Player, I'm going with "Could Probably Stand To Be More Valuable of a Player" because I choose to coddle our players' fragile psyches. In 2012, Erik Payne was a valuable offensive roleplayer (26 hits, 11 XBH) but this year he's been a non-factor, managing only five hits in 27 at bats. Shon Carson has been similarly ineffective this year, batting .194 and having struck out 11 times in 27 at bats, despite posting an impressive SPIP (Selfie per Instagram Photo) of .56. And while his bat's not a problem, Joey Pankake's made 13 errors, more than three times as many as the next highest individual total on the team. NCAA.com's national statistics don't include errors [fragile psyches!] but I imagine Joey's got to be near the top.
Many assumed Jordan Montgomery would snatch the baton from previous ace Michael Roth, which initially he did. But an injury has sidelined Montgomery for most of the first half, and it allowed Nolan Belcher to monopolize the spotlight. Belcher's numbers are delicious: 5-2, 1.70 ERA, a 53:4 K to BB ratio. From lil' lefty to big lefty, this section would be a travesty if it didn't mention Adam Westmoreland. Westy's been supremely valuable out of the bullpen, amounting a 4-0 record and posting a 1.30 ERA in 34.2 innings pitched, while averaging more than a strikeout per inning. Don't forget about Vince Fiori, the LOOGY with a sub-1 WHIP and a 1.29 ERA. Step it up, righties!
Any mention of the Koumas-Holmes tandem feels like a comforting vestige of the championship teams—in fact, Holmes is one of few remaining roster players with two CWS rings. But this season, both have struggled at times. Forrest Koumas is sitting on a 6.39 ERA and a WHIP of 1.72 in only seven appearances. Colby Holmes was part of the combined no-hitter against Albany, but experienced a stretch of futility from which, it would seem, he has emerged. Despite their woes, one would hope and almost expect both players to gather confidence as the postseason nears and the promise of a fourth consecutive trip to Omaha becomes increasingly tangible.
The Gamecocks were swept in Columbia by Arkansas, a series that opened with a 15-3 pasting and ended with a deflating extra-innings loss. The Cocks tumbled out of the top 10, had lost four of five games, and were riddled with injuries. Someone tried to register FireChadHolbrook.com but was unable to do so because his computer is just an empty box of Bubba Burgers.
Arguably, it's this very minute. Since that Arky debacle, the Cocks have ripped off eight of nine, including six consecutive SEC victories. The most recent was a 19-2 dismantling of Tennessee in Knoxville, which is a sentence I wouldn't mind writing again in October (Likely scenario: USC boots 4 FGs and scores a touchdown; UT's only points come when Dylan Thompson drops back in his own endzone and takes a knee to pray for a dude in the third row he saw choke on a nacho.) Anyway, let's hope the current run extends into this weekend, when Carolina travels to Gainesville. Despite the struggles of this year's Gators squad thus far, teams who underestimate Florida do so at their own peril.
PLAYER WHO SERIOUSLY NEEDS SOME MOPUP DUTY:
Drake Thomason still has an 81.00 ERA. For the love Pete, let the kid throw an inning!