South Carolina continues to struggle mightily against good competition as they were outscored 38-10 over the course of the weekend against #10 Florida, (Game recaps here, here, and here). It's safe to say that Carolina is not a team on the same level as Florida, Vanderbilt, LSU or Texas A&M. This should startle you, because we play all of those teams here in the next few weeks. Although the last few weeks have been a struggle, the team always gave us fans reason to think, "Hey, they look better! Maybe they'll begin to turn it around soon!" Unfortunately, this series against Florida saw a complete bottoming out. Hopefully, this is what the team needs to wake up (some leadership would be nice), but I wouldn't bet on it. I had to look long and hard for some positives to take away here, and even though I found a couple, it's still hard to see any silver lining from this series as pretty much everything went badly.
Kyle Martin continues to hit at a torrid pace, Schrock is back on track: This man can absolutely rake. Martin went 7-12 (.583!!!!) with 2 homeruns and 4 RBI's against Florida pitching. If there is one great thing about this team, it's being able to watch Kyle Martin swing a bat. The man knows how to hit. On Saturday, he became the first Gamecock since Brendan Winn on February 14, 2004 to hit for the cycle. Also, Max Schrock has finally begun to look confident at the plate and the results are showing. He had an eight game hitting streak snapped this weekend, but despite this, his average is now sitting at a solid .304. If Carolina wants any chance at turning this dismal season around, he will need to continue to hit well.
Where was the starting pitching?: Our starting pitchers gave up 19 earned runs this weekend. That's bad news for a team who's backbone is supposedly starting pitching. Wil Crowe went 4 1/3 innings with 7 earned runs, Wynkoop went 5 2/3 innings with 8 earned runs, and Widener struggled through 3 1/3 innings while giving up 4 earned runs. I'll give the starting pitching a pass since they've been solid (for the most part) this year. However, we are going to need Coach Meyers and company to be clicking on all cylinders if we want to compete with Vanderbilt this weekend.
Can a leader please step up?: In my very humble, uneducated, opinion, this is our biggest issue. This team, talent wise, can stack up against anybody in the country. Coach Holbrook can only lead this team so much. A few players have to step up and lead their peers on the field. During the Sunday game, viewers had the opportunity to watch Scott Wingo get interviewed by the SEC Network broadcasters. He had a quote that stuck with me, "Those national championship teams (2010 and 2011) did not have the most talent. But we had a scrappy group of guys who just loved to play baseball. I know we're going through a rough spot right now, but we just have to keep grinding." As an assistant coach, Wingo can help influence our team in a positive way. However, and anyone who's ever played sports knows this, somebody on the team has to step up and lead this team. Keeping the guys loose, helping them have fun, showing the young guys how to play with "swagger." These are all things that Wingo did his last two years at USC. Obviously, Wingo can't lace up and go play 2nd base for us anymore. But if an upperclassman (Caldwell, Schrock, Martin, Wynkoop; any of those guys would be fit) would fill this role, it would do a lot to getting this team back on track.