Gamecock baseball returns this week and we'll be previewing the team in the days leading up to the season opener against College of Charleston. We'll start with the expectations for the Gamecocks as they enter the season. The table below contains the preseason rankings from several of college baseball's polls. (South Carolina opponents are italicized)
|D1Baseball||Baseball America||USA Today Coaches Poll||Perfect Game||Collegiate Baseball|
|5||South Carolina||Texas Tech||Florida||UCLA||Oklahoma State|
|8||TCU||Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State||Houston||Houston|
|11||Louisville||UCLA||Houston||Florida State||Florida State|
|12||Oklahoma State||Louisville||Florida State||Texas Tech||Louisville|
|13||Rice||South Carolina||Texas Tech||Oklahoma State||Cal Poly|
|14||Maryland||Mississippi State||Miami||South Carolina||Miami|
|16||Texas Tech||Maryland||Oregon||Arkansas||UC Santa Barbara|
|17||Texas A&M||North Carolina||Rice||North Carolina||Cal State Fullerton|
|18||Ole Miss||Arizona State||Ole Miss||UC Santa Barbara||Stanford|
|19||Cal State Fullerton||Kennesaw State||Cal State Fullerton||Cal State Fullerton||Arizona State|
|20||Alabama||Oregon||Maryland||Arizona State||Mississippi State|
|21||Florida State||Florida State||Arizona State||Rice||South Carolina|
|23||Nebraska||Cal State Fullerton||Texas A&M||Mississippi State||Liberty|
|24||Arizona State||Clemson||Cal Poly||Kennesaw State||North Carolina|
|25||Tennessee||Liberty||Mississippi State||Texas A&M||College of Charleston|
There's a pretty wide range of preseason expectations for the Gamecocks within the top 25, although all but one poll does have them as a top 15 team. Preseason rankings, by necessity, involve lots of guesswork and are therefore susceptible to being very wrong. However they do give a good indication of a team's perceived ability to answer the questions that they face entering the season.
The three polls that have the Gamecocks in the 10-15 range are probably about right as far as appropriate expectations for this team, at least until we learn more by seeing them in action. South Carolina has some good returning experience and should have the talent to fill the open positions left by last year's departures. The biggest question is whether this team will coalesce and play to the potential that they appear to have.
Despite the expectation that the Gamecocks will be very solid as a team, only one player received preseason All-American honors. Freshman utility player Alex Destino was selected as a third-team All-American by Baseball America. Destino is a left-handed pitcher and a powerful hitter and should contribute in both roles this season.