You have to give South Carolina credit for their best appearance in the SEC Tournament for some time, but in the end, the late push wasn’t enough. The Gamecocks will miss out on postseason baseball for the second time in three seasons.
The Gamecocks ended the regular season 13-17 in the SEC, their second losing conference record in three seasons. Before this year and 2015, the team’s last sub .-500 record in league play was all the way back in 1997 under June Raines. Despite a 3-2 mark in Hoover - with the team’s 3-0 victory over Kentucky on Friday a possible tipping point that could have potentially given them a big enough push into regionals - the committee couldn’t look past the fact that the Gamecocks just weren’t good enough to hold their own in an elite baseball conference. They ended up ending the season having lost eight straight weekend series, with their only successful league sets - Alabama and Tennessee (a sweep) - coming against teams with records of 5-24-1 and 7-21, respectively. Outside of that, there was very little of a case for them to get the call to regionals. It was quite an about-face for a team that was picked as a preseason top five and was expected to make a run at a second-straight Super Regional, if not a College World Series. And whether you blame injuries, coaching, or a little bit of both, this team just wasn’t very good when it mattered.
And now the debate begins about the future of Chad Holbrook. Fans on social media have been calling for his head throughout the season, and with the team having missed regionals once more, he has lost even more goodwill. Bear in mind: 2018 will be the second-to-last season of his contract that runs through 2019. Does Ray Tanner make a move now in an attempt to reboot things in the dugout and bring a fresh voice (likely someone with ties to the program) to the table? Or does he wait it out and see what happens in 2018? Holbrook’s shown that he can recruit at a high level and can bring talented players in, but at the end of the day, the buck stops with him when it comes to wins and losses. The high standard that has been set for this program has once again failed to have been met: missing regionals is, for a program of South Carolina’s caliber, unacceptable; missing twice in three years is basically criminal. Miami, another one of college baseball’s top programs, hadn’t missed for forty-four years before this season!
It’s difficult for fans to watch the Gamecocks get left out again, for sure. Surprising, given their results this season? Hardly. And whether change at the top is on the way now is a question that is sure to be answered soon.