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#2 South Carolina vs #1 Florida Baseball Preview: The Offense

We break down the Gamecock and Gator offenses ahead of a huge showdown for first place in the SEC


The team batting average for the Gamecocks improved for the first time in nearly a month after the Furman game last week and a good weekend at the plate against Missouri moved it back up to .296. The Gamecocks are far from the strongest offensive team in the conference, but they're hovering in the upper half of the SEC. The team right below the Gamecocks, with a .293 batting average, is the Gator team that is coming to Columbia this weekend.

Both the Gators and the Gamecocks are stronger on pitching and defense than offense, but both teams are still dangerous at the plate. Here's a summary of the overall offensive stats:

South Carolina Florida
Batting Average .296 .293
On-Base % .386 .390
Slugging % .412 .440
Home Runs 24 33
Walks 173 200
Strikeouts 269 259
Stolen Bases-Attempts (%) 51-66 (77%)

55-72 (76%)

The difference between South Carolina and Florida in most offensive categories is so slight that it barely matters, but there are some numbers that stick out. The Gators walk more and strike out a bit less than the Gamecocks, and they've got a little more power in their lineup. Florida is also hitting better in conference play than Carolina, with a .286/.385/.408 line in the SEC as opposed to .275/.363/.380 for the Gamecocks. Although, in fairness to USC, the Gamecocks have faced two of the top four pitching teams in the conference while the Gators have faced only one.

As far as the individual hitters, the regular starting lineup for the Gators is a little deeper top to bottom. Florida has only two regular starters hitting below .290, while the Gamecocks have four. Peter Alonso leads the Gator offense with a .347 BA, 41 RBI, and 9 homers. Carolina will also have to watch out for Dalton Guthrie (hitting .345), JJ Schwarz (.298, 37 RBI, 4 HR), and Buddy Reed (hitting .297 and leading the team with 19 stolen bases).

While the bottom of the South Carolina lineup has struggled some, particularly in SEC play, the top hitters for the Gamecocks are among the best in the conference. Gene Cone is one of the hottest hitters in the country right now after going 10-for-12 against Missouri and setting the school record with a 27-game hitting streak. He leads the Gamecocks with a .377 BA, but he's hitting a ridiculous .457 in SEC play. Cone is also very good at getting on base; his .475 OBP leads the team and he has walked 24 times this season while only striking out 14. Alex Destino is also a key part of the offense for the Gamecocks right now with a .354 BA, 38 RBI, and 4 home runs. Dom Thompson-Williams (.329/.439/.530) and John Jones (.316/.420/.494) will also pose a threat for the Gators, particularly if they can keep their bats going like they did last week.

Advantage: Florida (but not by much)

Florida's ability to get production from their entire lineup and their quality hitting in conference play make me inclined to believe that they have a slight edge over the Gamecocks on offense. But it's not much of an advantage and if the top hitters for Carolina are able to handle Florida's pitching then I'm not concerned about the ability of the offense to help the Gamecocks win what ought to be a close, hard-fought series.