South Carolina hopes to give its fans something to cheer about (Kendall Rogers)


Columbia Regional Breakdown


Columbia Regional Participants

South Carolina 42-15 20-9 (1st SEC East) At-Large Roster Statistics
UNC Wilmington 39-17 16-6 (2nd Colonial) At-Large Roster Statistics
Duke 33-22 14-15 (3rd ACC Coastal) At-Large Roster Statistics
Rhode Island 30-25 18-6 (1st Atlantic 10) Automatic Roster Statistics

Regional Superlatives

Most Exciting Player: Dom Thompson-Williams, of, South Carolina. A 6.6 runner with serious bat speed, Thompson-Williams has lived up to the huge fall buzz he generated, giving the Gamecocks an exciting power/speed threat who plays a good center field.

Best Hitter: Nick Feight, c, UNC Wilmington. The runaway national RBI leader has a patient approach at the ability to drive the ball out of the park to all fields.

Best Defensive Player: Zack Kone, ss, Duke. One of Duke’s most important recruits has lived up to expectations, stepping right into the everyday job at shortstop, where his range, actions and arm strength are all assets.

Best Pitcher: Clarke Schmidt, rhp, South Carolina. Schmidt has struggled a bit down the stretch, but he might have been college baseball’s best pitcher in the first half, and if he returns to that form he can beat anybody.

X-Factor: Tyler Wilson, lhp, Rhode Island. Wilson is a very tough matchup for a South Carolina lineup that leans heavily on lefties Gene Cone, Alex Destino and Thompson-Williams; if he can beat the Gamecocks in the opener, it will turn this regional on its head.

Best Starting Rotation: South Carolina. Only a handful of teams in the country can match South Carolina’s trio of Schmidt, Braden Webb and Adam Hill.

Best Bullpen: South Carolina. The trio of Josh Reagan, Tyler Johnson and Reed Scott makes the Gamecocks tough to beat in the late innings.

Best Offensive Team: UNC Wilmington. The Seahawks have tough outs from top to bottom and rank second in the nation in scoring; they can take over any given game with their power or their speed.

Best Defensive Team: South Carolina. The Gamecocks have a superb defensive infield led by Marcus Mooney, D.C. Arendas and Jonah Bride, and they rank 16th nationally with a .978 fielding percentage.

No. 1 Seed Win Probability (1-10): 7. South Carolina has a significant home-field advantage against anyone, but especially against URI and Wilmington, which are not accustomed to SEC-caliber crowds. The Gamecocks have not played their best down the stretch, but they’re still the most complete team in this regional, and their edge on the mound gives them a good shot to advance to supers. But Tyler Wilson and URI could beat them in the opener, which could break this regional wide open. And UNCW is the wild card — the Seahawks are just so much more offensive than the other three teams in this field, they could bash their way through.

Team Breakdowns

South Carolina

Clarke Schmidt, South CarolinaSouth Carolina ace Clarke Schmidt (Kendall Rogers)

After missing regionals last year for the first time since 1999, South Carolina rebounded in a huge way this spring, beating out heavyweights Florida and Vanderbilt to win the SEC East title. After their customary 0-2 showing in the conference tournament, the Gamecocks should be plenty rested and refocused for their home regional. The extended rest should be especially good for ace Clarke Schmidt (9-3, 2.96), who might have been college baseball’s best pitcher in the first half but has not been as sharp down the stretch.


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