Just the sixth school to win two consecutive championships, South Carolina begins its quest today for a third in a row as the aluminum pings of spring start up at college ballparks around the country.
The Gamecocks open up by playing host to VMI at 3 p.m.
Only Rod Dedeaux’s 1970-74 Southern California squads have won three or more consecutive national titles in Division I baseball.
“We have expectations in this program,” Gamecocks coach Ray Tanner said. “Our players have it, fans have it and we are just going to do the best we can. I have never been one to talk about the future and setting goals and objectives, all of those things. We are just trying to have a good practice and get better each time out there.”
While the Gamecocks’ lineup has a few new faces, Tanner’s pitching rotation includes two of the country’s best hurlers in left-hander Michael Roth and righty Matt Price, who’s moving from the closer’s role after saving 30 games his first two seasons.
“We want to go out there and win, and I don’t get involved in all the hoopla about hype or whatever,” said Roth, who went 14-3 with a 1.06 ERA that ranked second-best in the country. “I just come out here and try to give the team a chance to win.”
South Carolina will have plenty of competition on the road to another title.
Florida, Stanford, Arkansas, Texas A&M and Texas all appear to have championship-caliber teams.
After falling two victories shy – against the Gamecocks – of their first College World Series title, the Gators are ranked No. 1 in every major preseason poll.
Arkansas joins Florida, South Carolina, Louisiana State and Vanderbilt as teams with a legitimate shot at giving the Southeastern Conference four consecutive College World Series titles; Louisiana State University won in 2009.