South Carolina baseball fans have plenty to crow about with the Gamecocks having won their second consecutive national championship, a feat that has been accomplished only a few times prior to this year. In the process, the team swept through the post-season playoffs without a loss, setting a record for consecutive playoff victories. The most exciting part was that USC was not a team that just lined up and mowed down the opposition without pausing; the Gamecocks got themselves into plenty of tight spots along the way and always managed to extricate themselves without major problems occurring. All championship teams must have that quality.
Adding special interest for Kershaw County fans was the superb performance this year of freshman pitcher Forrest Koumas of Lugoff, who threw well from the mound all year and pitched several outstanding innings in the first game of the best-of-three championship series against Florida. That game was typical of USC’s efforts in that the Gamecocks trailed by a single run most of the game before coming back to tie it and then win in extra innings.
Ray Tanner just might be the best coach in college baseball. After arriving in 1997 at South Carolina -- a program with a proud tradition that had stumbled a bit in the years before he arrived -- it took Tanner a few seasons to get things turned around. But he did a heck of a job and now has a program that’s the pride of college baseball.
As a side note, we like the rules governing eligibility for college baseball players. If they don’t choose to go professional straight out of high school and instead opt for college, they must wait three years before turning pro. That gives them a full college experience and also allows coaches to plan ahead with personnel, in contrast to the ridiculous “one and done” rule in college basketball.
The Gamecocks have pulled off quite an accomplishment. There are no doubt many USC fans in Kershaw County who are proud -- as they have a right to be.