South Carolina struggled mightily in 2019 but returns a solid squad for a 2020 campaign. They’re one of the hopeful SEC teams with a legitimate shot at making the postseason. We’ll take a look at what to expect from the Gamecocks this season.
2019 Record: 28-28 (8-22)
Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 39th
2020 Prediction: 4th in the East
The 2019 season was one to forget for the Carolina fans. The Gamecocks posted a 28-28 record which was their worst in over two decades. The days of College World series are in the rear view and as South Carolina fights their way back to dominance.
Last year was a mix of less than stellar pitching to go along with a lineup with little shine to it. South Carolina was respectable out of conference with a 20-5 record but could not figure it out in conference play.
South Carolina was swept in three separate series in conference play. They scraped just one series win all year in a matchup with Kentucky. Their one game early exit in the conference tournament to cap off a poor season.
They started the season strong at 14-3. They had an early huge series win against then ranked Clemson and even found themselves inside of the top 25 early on. A huge midweek win against then No.3 NC State was another highlight.
Notable Non-Conference Games
February 28 – March 1: Clemson 35-26, 38 RPI
March 4: Boston College 31-27, 55 RPI
March 18: No.16 NC State 42-19, 18 RPI
April 7: No.23 North Carolina 46-19, 12 RPI
Clemson had a great season a year ago and ended it in the Oxford Regional with a 1-2 playoff run. The rivalry was played at Clemson in 2019 where the Gamecocks took two out of three, absolutely dominating the final game 14-3. The Tigers will want revenge this season.
A few ACC midweek games highlight the rest of the schedule. The Golden Eagles just missed the tournament last year but still factored in ACC play.
A pair of games against North Carolina teams will be tough tasks for the Gamecocks. South Carolina was able to shock both teams last year in which the pair were ranked. NC State blanked in the tournament a year ago but UNC came down to one final game to make the College World Series and came up short against Auburn.
SEC West Opponents
April 4-6: @ No.25 Ole Miss
April 16-18: No.10 Mississippi State
April 24-26: @ No.11 LSU
May 1-3: No.7 Arkansas
Not Playing: No.8 Auburn, No.20 Texas A&M, Alabama
South Carolina got quite the tough draw in their SEC West slate for 2020. A team that went just 4-8 a season ago will get four ranked SEC West opponents.
Ole Miss will be a young team and therefore susceptible to lose any series. South Carolina can be hopeful they can possibly win that series.
Last season the Gamecocks got ran out of the stadium in the first two games against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are expected to be just as dominant this season and will be a very tough series to win.
On the road against LSU is never a friendly environment and following it up with a series against Arkansas will be just as difficult. Winning two of those games would be considered a win for the Gamecocks.
RHP Brett Kerry: 4-1, 2.62 ERA
RHP Carmen Mlodzinski: 0-0, 5.91 ERA
RHP Thomas Farr: JUCO Transfer
RHP Andrew Peters: JUCO Transfer
Brett Kerry is the only pitcher of the four who has SEC experience. He had the third most innings pitched last season despite starting just two games. One of those starts was a solid 6.1 innings against offensive juggernaut Mississippi State in the season finale.
Mlodzinski was expected to be a major factor in 2019 but had a season ending injury before conference play even started. He’s had an excellent off season and is expected to compete for the Friday night ace position.
The final spot is still up in the air. A pair of JUCO transfers look to duke it out for the Sunday role. Both players were taken in the 2019 draft but both had season ending injuries and are hoping to come back strong in a solid 2020 campaign.
The South Carolina was largely underwhelming last season. They were last in batting average, 12th in runs scored, and 13th in on-base percentage. In order to help rectify that they have hit the transfer market hard.
Southern Miss graduate transfer Bryant Bowen slashed .341/.403/.563 with 11 home runs and 51 RBIs. Bowen was second in batting average, homeruns, and slugging percentage on a Golden Eagles club that made it to the final elimination game of the Baton Rouge Regional.
Dallas Beaver is another graduate transfer that will likely anchor the offense. The UCF left hander hit .316/.455/.545 with 12 long balls and 56 RBIs. The Gamecocks can put him several places defensively as he has the ability to play the corner infield spots as well as catcher.
The ceiling is high for the Gamecocks this season but the floor can be very low as well. The good news is that they have improved a league worst pitching staff from a year ago. The one-two punch of Kerry and Mlondinski should help big time.
The offensive struggles have also been addressed. Not only are there two high octane offensive graduate transfers, but Carolina has brought on three JUCO products that should have an impact on the offense. The offense will rely on these players’ ability to transition to SEC pitching.
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