After struggling at times in 2017, the Gamecocks should have a solid offense this season, but with some question marks remaining when it comes to pitching, it’ll be key for the offense to be strong from top to bottom. Fortunately, it looks like that should be the case, as South Carolina has a number of returning starters who will bring both skill and experience to the lineup.
Sophomore Carlos Cortes, the only Gamecock to receive preseason honors, had a very good freshman season, posting a batting average of .286 with 48 hits, 12 homers, and 41 RBI in 168 at-bats, so he’ll likely be counted on to drive the offense this season. While his numbers last year were good, having more practice and experience under his belt will hopefully lead to him putting up even better stats this season.
Elsewhere in the lineup, senior Jonah Bride and juniors Jacob Olson and LT Tolbert will also be counted on to be productive. Olson had the best batting average on the team in 2017, at .294 in 221 at-bats, with 65 hits, six home runs, and 27 RBI, while Tolbert and Bride were close behind with averages of .284 and .282, respectively.
Other returning players to watch include seniors Madison Stokes (2017 ERA: .224) and Justin Row (2017 ERA: .290), juniors TJ Hopkins (2017 ERA: .258) and Danny Blair (2017 ERA: .258), and sophomore Riley Hogan (2017 ERA: .244).
Newcomers who could see early playing time and have an impact include freshmen Jordan Holladay and Noah Campbell.
The Gamecocks posted an overall batting average of .260 in 2017, down from their overall average of .291 in 2016. The offense wasn’t the only problem in 2017, as the team struggled in all areas, but there were stretches where the hitting - or lack thereof- was painful to watch, and at least some of the issue seemed to stem from guys looking unaware or underdeveloped at the plate. There were also some instances of questionable choices at the plate (looking at you, bunts). If the new coaching staff is able to address these issues and get the team to be more consistent (and consistently good) this season, the offense should be able to get back on track and be dependable.