What South Carolina baseball needs for better SEC success
But what has become arguably the top state for college baseball in the country in recent years is suddenly in position to end a streak that has lasted more than four decades.
The state of South Carolina has put at least one team in the NCAA Tournament every year since 1973. Clemson has been to the tournament 38 times during that span, while South Carolina has made it 32. Schools like Coastal Carolina (2016 national title winner) and the College of Charleston have also been regular participants recently.
But with three weekends remaining in the regular season, only one Palmetto State team is in D1Baseball’s latest projected field of 64 and that is Clemson. The Tigers are a No. 3 seed in East Carolina’s region and are one of D1Baseball’s final five teams in after losing nine of their past 10 ACC games.
“This is a state that historically produces a lot of postseason teams,” D1Baseball co-managing editor Kendall Rogers told The State. “And if you look around the state right now, I mean it’s hard to find a team that’s going to be in the postseason.”
The Gamecocks are 0-7 in SEC series with three remaining and are in danger of not even reaching the SEC Tournament. Clemson has ACC series remaining against N.C. State and Wake Forest and will need to play well in those and in the ACC Tournament to ensure that they earn a regional berth.
Coastal Carolina has an RPI of 57 entering this weekend and is on the outside looking in.
“It’s just been a weird year in college baseball,” Rogers said. “I cannot remember a time where all three of those big schools have been down. Obviously last year Coastal wasn’t great but South Carolina made a super and Clemson was certainly taking care of business. You can’t really point to last year. So honestly, no, in my 14 years of covering the sport I can’t remember a time where South Carolina may get totally shut out of the postseason.”
While ESPN analyst Kyle Peterson admits the state of South Carolina is struggling in 2019, he does believe it can get back on track soon.
Peterson was impressed with the job Mark Kingston did in his first season at South Carolina and expects the Gamecocks to get back to winning moving forward after a down year this year.
He believes that Clemson’s turnaround could come much sooner, even after a few bad weeks.
“It’s just been a weird three weeks. If you go back three weeks I think they were in the hosting discussion. And if we look at it three weeks from now, who knows, they may be back in it,” Peterson said. “I think the hardest thing about our game is looking at it in fairly short time snippets. A week, two weeks, three weeks. You go through a funk and hopefully get enough time to get out of it. For now, for Clemson, I’ll go with I just think they’re in a two or three week funk. We’ll know if that’s a funk or who they really are in three or four weeks.”
In addition to schools in the Palmetto State, there are plenty of other college baseball powers that are struggling this year.
Florida is one of the last five teams in D1Baseball’s projected field, while Florida State is projected to be a No. 3 seed and is on the bubble.
TCU, Cal State Fullerton and Texas are all currently on the outside looking in with lots of work to do to ensure that they reach the postseason.
“I think when you look at the college baseball landscape there’s a lot of power programs that have been power programs for a long time that are realizing it’s harder to stay at that peak than it was 10 years ago, 15 years ago,” Peterson said. “There’s a lot more gunning for you now.”
The teams in the Palmetto State certainly know that as well as anyone.