Before talking about a national seed, what a weekend the Gamecocks had to close the season. Vanderbilt is a very talented team who is playing their best baseball of the year. Thursday night and Saturday were the kind of wins that are a trademark of the program.
With the exception of Friday’s first inning, Carolina’s pitching was excellent, and there was just enough hitting to win two of three on the road. All year, that’s been the make up of the team: very good pitching with some timely hitting (usually). When one or both failed, the team usually failed.
The good news is that a strong defensive team with great pitching and some timely hitting is the exact formula previous Gamecock teams rode to greatness. The bad news is that those teams were rarely very effective in Hoover at the SEC Tournament.
Tell me if this sounds familiar. If Carolina can just win a few games in the SEC tournament, they’ll be in good shape for a regional host/national seed. It seems that every year the Gamecocks go to Hoover with a little bit of work to do to position themselves for the postseason. Usually, Carolina doesn’t play its bests in Hoover.
Perhaps this year there will be change, and there will probably have to be one if USC is going to get a national seed. I’d written earlier that if Carolina could finish around 42-14 (18-12), they’d be hard to deny a national seed. They are right in the thick of things, but there are a lot of other good teams there too.
Carolina’s resume is strong, but several of the prognosticators have the Gamecocks on the outside looking in. Florida is definitely getting a national seed, and the SEC is probably going to get two. The SEC is probably not (though possibly could) going to get three seeds. That means USC is fighting with Ole Miss and Vanderbilt for the last spot.
South Carolina’s strongest argument is that they won series against both teams that could also take the slot. However, that argument would be trumped by a weak showing in Hoover. Two wins in Hoover would be a good place to be, but whether that would be good enough depends on what happens around the country.
National seed or not, the goal is to win in Omaha, not Hoover. USC’s coaches have been good in years past to keep their eye on the bigger prize and not do anything to hurt those chances. Hopefully that will continue this year.