Thursday, November 15, 2012

SxSE: South Carolina Gamecocks Baseball, 1895-2012

South Carolina has become not only a College World Series program, but a College World Series finals program over the past few years.  Ray Tanner has developed this program to the point where a trip to the College World Series is expected annually, and the only surprise would be if they don't make it to the finals.  Over the past 10 years the Gamecocks' average W-L record has been 47-20.

South Carolina played its first intercollegiate baseball game in 1895.  The team has about 24 different coaches from 1895 through 1969.  Billy Laval managed a .728 record during seven seasons from 1928-1934, during which he was also the school's football coach.  But otherwise the team was unexceptional prior to the 70's.

Former professional baseball star Bobby Richardson took over the reigns from 1970-1976 and led the Gamecocks through the beginning of an era of success that has continued to grows since Richardson's tenure.  He finished with a 221-92-1 record and took the team to the NCAA Tournament three times, and made it to the national championship game of the College World Sries in 1975, losing to Texas.

June Raines took over and led the team from 1977 through 1996, compiling a 763-380-2.  Raines took the team to 11 NCAA Tournaments and 4 College World Series.

Ray Tanner took over in 1997 and has built on the program built by Richardson and Raines.  During his tenure the Gamecocks have been in the NCAA Tournament in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. They have been to the College World Series in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011 and 2012. They were runners-up in 2002 and 2012, and won the national championship two years in a row, in 2010 and 2011.

Notable South Carolina Ballplayers
2012 South Carolina Baseball

The 2012 Gamecocks compiles a 49-20 record, 18-11 in the SEC.  The hosted and won a Regional and Super Regional, and went all the way to the College World Series finals, where they lost to Arizona in 2 straight games.

No 3-peat but future looks bright for Gamecock baseball (The Times and Democrat)
Monday’s 4-1 loss to Arizona may have denied South Carolina a three-peat, but its run to the national championship series demonstrated that the future is exceptionally bright. USC will have three-quarters of the infield back with second baseman Chase Vergason, third baseman LB Dantzler and shortstop Joey Pankake returning in 2013. Infielders Erik Payne and Connor Bright could earn expanded roles in 2013, as well. Kyle Martin was designated Christian Walker’s successor at first base early in the campaign as he displayed outstanding hitting skills. The Gamecocks also appear set behind the plate with catcher Grayson Greiner. Tanner English is expected to move to center field, his more natural position, to replace Evan Marzilli, while TJ Costen figures to have a more prominent role next season in the outfield. Right field will likely be the biggest question mark when fall practice starts. Sean Sullivan, a rising senior who came up with several clutch hits this season, could compete for that job.
Team overcomes early obstacles, high expectations (Daily Gamecock)
The champions are the ones who are immortalized. For them, songs are written and parades are held. But what about the ones who come afterward? Those who have to follow in the footsteps of the great ones? Carrying the burden of the bulls-eye may be the most difficult feat in all of sports. More often than not, the squad that must step out from a previous team's shadow fails to live up to inflated expectations. There are Gamecock fans that know all about this. They watched USC's football team in 1984 go 10-2, which was the best season in school history at that point. The 1985 squad proceeded to go 5-6. History is a hard act to follow. That's what makes the 2012 South Carolina baseball team so impressive. Expectations for Gamecock baseball were never higher. Two consecutive national titles, 16 consecutive wins at the NCAA tournament, 11 in a row at the College World Series. Trips to Omaha were no longer asked for; they were demanded.

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