Despite a third of South Carolina's 33-man roster getting picked by Major League Baseball clubs during the draft this week, the defending national champions say they're locked into a return trip to Omaha -- and not on their pro prospects once the season is done.
"Coach (Ray) Tanner said if we happen to win this weekend, playing in Omaha is a lot better than playing in some small town in a minor league where everybody will forget about us for a while," said John Taylor, a South Carolina relief pitcher who was among the 11 players picked in baseball's three-day draft.
The Gamecocks (48-14) will play Connecticut (45-18-1) in a best-of-three NCAA super regional series starting Saturday night.
The Huskies have a few draft distractions of their own. Outfielder George Springer and pitcher Matt Barnes were among 10 UConn players picked in the draft. Springer went 11th overall to Houston and Barnes was selected No. 19 by Boston.
Huskies players say, they too, are focused on this weekend.
"There is always more out there on the table," said Connecticut catcher Doug Elliott, who went in the 35th round to Milwaukee.
South Carolina players were excited about the team's strong showing in the draft.
"It's a great thing to see everybody get drafted," said sophomore outfielder Evan Marzilli.
Last year's Gamecocks had their share of draftees, including College World Series standouts like outfielder Whit Merrifield and pitchers Sam Dyson and Blake Cooper, yet were able to win two in a row over Coastal Carolina in the super regionals and six consecutive games to win the national title.
Morales said the players are relieved the draft is done and they know what's ahead. "Now, it's time to go. I don't want to leave here and not make it back to Omaha," he said.