The South Carolina Gamecocks went to Oxford, Mississippi and handled their business. Not only did they win the series, but they swept their second consecutive SEC opponent. The pitching was largely effective, the bats got timely hits and put pressure on the Ole Miss defense, Tyler Johnson is probably going to be really damn good, and why you should believe in this team.
Young Guns: Our weekend rotation looks like this: Sophomore, Freshman, Freshman. That combination is not usually a recipe for success in the SEC. However, Clarke Schmidt is not your typical sophomore, Braden Webb might get drafted after this season (he's a draft eligible freshman), and Adam Hill has started to blossom before anybody thought he would. Clarke is one of three pitchers in the entire country with 6 wins to his resume, Braden won SEC Freshman of the Week, and Adam Hill looked much better in his second Sunday start as he shutout the Ole Miss lineup over 6 innings. They may be young, but they're talented and, with pitching coach Jerry Meyers, they look to be a force in the SEC over the next several years.
Making Contact: Usually I like to point out a couple of specific players that had exceptionally good weekends at the plate. However for the first time in a long time, I won't be able to do that because this article would go on forever. The Gamecocks put pressure on Ole Miss pitching all weekend, batters 1-9 contributed all weekend. Last year our offense largely relied on getting some guys on base and hoping Kyle Martin would hit a bomb. While the long ball is certainly a large part of our offensive arsenal this year, all nine guys in the lineup are capable of contributing in different ways. Hit and run, run and hit, double steals, hit for power, sacrifice hits, making solid contact, (timely) bunting etc. are all part of the Gamecock war chest. The Gamecock teams that won back-to-back national titles could do all of these things. This Gamecock team might have the most talented lineup, maybe more so, than both of those title teams. That bodes well looking forward as we take on Vanderbilt, Florida, etc.
Tyler Johnson: Josh Reagan has definitely been the headliner so far this year out of the bullpen. But the real surprise this year? Tyler Johnson. Tyler only appeared in 7 games or so in his freshman season. After putting in some hard work in the weight room this offseason and improving his fastball velocity and location, he has become our primary setup man. He pitched 2 innings this weekend without allowing a run and has struck out 18 batters in 15 innings pitched. The backend of the bullpen is looking awfully strong so far.
This Team is Legit: After a disappointing series loss to Clemson, many people, including myself, had some serious doubts about this year's team. However, the past two weekends have made a believer out of me. They swept a highly ranked Arkansas team, and then swept a top ten team, on the road in a tough environment. At no point did this team fall apart at the seams and Ole Miss was never really in the game nor had any momentum. I haven't felt this good about a Gamecock baseball team in several years.
The Gamecocks have a tough mid-week matchup with the Cougars of the College of Charleston before they travel to Vanderbilt for their third straight top 10 SEC series.