When South Carolina takes the field in 2017, they’ll do it with a very strong pitching staff, several of whom have garnered preseason honors. Coach Chad Holbrook announced junior Clarke Schmidt will again be the team’s Friday night starter, with fellow junior Wil Crowe going on Saturdays and sophomore Adam Hill taking Sundays.
Schmidt was solid in 2016, with a 3.40 ERA in 111 1⁄3 innings, and while both he and Crowe would have been great options for Fridays, Schmidt likely earned the role after his performance last season. Crowe will be making a return from the Tommy John surgery that kept him out all of last season, so it will be interesting to see what he brings to the table this year. Hill wasn’t the biggest name on the 2016 pitching staff, but he did a great job, recording an ERA of 3.53 in 66 1⁄3 innings, and with a year of experience under his belt now, he has the chance to really bloom this season.
Outside of the starters, this staff boasts a good deal of other talent. The bullpen will include middle relievers with familiar names like seniors Reed Scott, who had an ERA of 2.56 in 45 2⁄3 innings in 2016, with two saves, and Josh Reagan, who had a 2016 ERA of 2.08 in 56 1⁄3 innings, with 11 saves. Another familiar name will be at closer, as junior Tyler Johnson takes that role. He had an ERA of 2.42 in 52 innings in 2016, with nine saves.
Other returning guys in the bullpen will include senior Colie Bowers (2016 ERA: 2.03) and juniors Tyler Haswell (2016 ERA: 3.10) and Brandon Murray (2016 ERA: 6:38). Junior John Parke will also be back in action after sitting out last year following Tommy John surgery. New names to watch for include freshmen Cody Morris and Sawyer Bridges.
South Carolina’s pitching staff came into 2016 full of question marks, and ended up being one of the team’s strengths in 2016. The Gamecocks finished with a team ERA of 3.29 last year, and if they can put up a similar number this season, they should be in good shape. Coach Chad Holbrook has made it clear this year’s staff is more-than-capable of putting together a very successful season, so instead of finding answers for question marks, this year they’ll look to live up to some fairly lofty preseason expectations.