By Rixon Lane
Let's all get on the same page before we begin here.
This season has not been a great one for South Carolina baseball.
Everyone agree on that? Good. Now it's time to move on.
The Gamecocks currently sit at 32-22, 13-15 in the SEC, and are on the squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble. South Carolina likely needs at least one more win against top-ranked LSU this weekend or an SEC Tournament championship to secure a bid to the regionals. Without either of those things happening, South Carolina will likely miss the postseason for the first time since 1999.
Obviously, none of this is what South Carolina fans expected to happen in the 2015 season.
However, this is not a team that realistically was going to compete for a national championship, even before the season began. The Gamecocks lost Grayson Greiner, Jordan Montgomery, Joey Pankake, Tanner English, Joel Seddon, and Evan Beal to the MLB Draft. All six had one more year of eligibility at South Carolina. Additionally, the Gamecocks saw one of their top pitchers, sophomore Wil Crowe, lost for the season with an arm injury in April.
Mix in inexperience at key positions and injuries to crucial players and it becomes clear that South Carolina was not going to be an Omaha-caliber team this season.
Realistic expectations for this team before the season probably involved a solid tournament bid with a chance to advance to the Super Regionals. The Gamecocks have fallen short of those expectations. However, folks clamoring for massive changes because this team because a trip to the CWS probably won't happen aren't tethered to reality.
The fact is, the 2015 Gamecocks are not as talented as past teams. A trip to Omaha is not, barring a timely hot stretch, a strong possibility for South Carolina this season.
Preseason expectations are not always the reality of the situation for a particular team. The 2010 Alabama football team was favored to win its second consecutive national championship, but wound up finishing the regular season with a 9-3 record. Looking back at a Crimson Tide team that had just two returning starters on defense, 9-3 was probably more likely than 14-0.
South Carolina was expected by many to be a top-25 team this season. However, those expectations have changed. It happens to plenty of teams. An NCAA Tournament bid would surpass the new, adjusted expectations for the Gamecocks.
Is it what fans wanted to happen this year? Absolutely not.
But it's the reality.