The Gamecocks need to win their regional to have a successful season. Anything short of that will be seen as a failure by many fans. And those fans would be right. South Carolina hasn’t failed to get out of a regional since 2009, the year before the College World Series run began.
It’s not especially fair that a 40+ win regular season isn’t enough, but the bar is too high in Columbia to be satisfied with the regular season. Three CWS finals, including two wins in the last four years, is better than all but a handful of teams have ever done. The result: expectations of repeat performances.
Most sane fans will tell you that it’s not realistic to expect a program to make Omaha every year, even a program as decorated as Carolina’s. We have sometimes asked the question of what is good enough to be considered a successful season. That depends greatly on your point of view, and the exact point where enough is found varies from fan to fan.
Some say Omaha or it’s a down year; some say supers; few say making the NCAA tournament. And for all this team has accomplished this season, if you whittle it down to a by-line for the sum of the season you get: NCAA Participant.
That’s not enough for the program; it’s not enough for the fans, and it certainly isn’t enough for the players and coaches. You don’t come to Columbia to make the NCAA Tournament. You come to compete in Omaha. You come to play in front of a rowdy, sold out crowd. You come to win at home.
And for all that expectation, there shouldn’t be pressure on the team. They are the best team in the regional. Anyone else winning would be a major upset. USC is more talented and more experienced. If they show up and play their game, they’ll be in the Supers.