A year after getting left out of postseason play, the USC Aiken baseball team received the ultimate respect Monday.
The Pacers climbed to No. 1 in Division II in a pair of baseball polls by College Baseball Lineup and Collegiate Baseball magazine.
USC Aiken, ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1993, is the first Peach Belt Conference team to be ranked first since Georgia College on March 7, 2011.
“I’m very excited for USC Aiken. I’m proud to be a Pacer today,” coach Kenny Thomas said. “Even though we’re No. 1 now, we want to be there at the end of the year.”
USC Aiken’s fortunes have changed after last season, when it won 37 games, was ranked in the top 15 and still didn’t qualify for the NCAA tournament’s Southeast Regional.
“It was a tough deal,” Thomas said. “That seems so long ago now. We did talk about it in the fall and in the preseason. We talked about what we could do to prevent that from happening again.”
The Pacers (41-9, 24-6), who closed the regular season with 14 wins in their last 15 games, don’t have to worry about just making the postseason. The Peach Belt regular season champs are now thinking of possibly holding the Southeast Regional in Aiken. USC Aiken likely can clinch the No. 1 regional seed if it can win the conference tournament, which begins May 8 in Greenwood, S.C.
“We want to host the regional,” Thomas said. “Nothing’s a guarantee. We’re hoping we have that opportunity. The only thing we can do is take care of stuff on the field.”