Andrew Beckwith, Coastal Carolina (Eric Sorenson)

Interesting Times In The Sun Belt

Notebook

MOBILE, Ala. — New season, new conference, new team. Coastal Carolina is rolling along, trying to find the magic combination that made it one of the nation’s top programs long before last year’s national championship run. In their maiden Sun Belt Conference voyage, Gary Gilmore’s squad has shown glimpses of greatness, but hasn’t turned in the dominant regular seasons that was their annual ritual in the Big South.

At 22-13-1 overall and 10-4-1 in conference action following Saturday’s series final at South Alabama, the Chanticleers are in position to make a run at the postseason. After last season’s incredible campaign, Coastal has a near impossible act to top. Expectations are elevated but many key performers from 2016 are gone. That is a tough combination to overcome.

“We had a lot of success for a long time,” Gilmore said. “Obviously, we just never got to Omaha (until last year). The difference between this year and last year are the people in the lineup. The people pitching at times are the same. This team has a different personality. We haven’t found ourselves yet. I don’t know that we will. I hope we will. Our true personality of who we are has not solidified itself. Last year we had a personality from day one. Everything didn’t work day one but it had that personality and it had that confidence. This one is trying to figure it out.”

Obviously, when a program breaks through the way Coastal did a year ago, many things change. People outside the program view you differently. Doors are opened that were previously closed. Gilmore has been offered many opportunities to speak about last season’s Omaha success, a huge boon for the program’s notoriety and recruiting footprint.

“It is one thing when you walk through the airport and somebody knows you. Maybe a year or two ago, they would have wondered, where is that at?

“It is neat stuff,” Gilmore said. “I get to go to all these cool places and tell everybody what an incredible thing happened with a great group of guys. Our relationship to each other and the whole nine yards. It is the most incredible thing to get to tell people how much you loved that group of guys and how much they loved you back.”


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