The offseason for the South Carolina baseball team has just begun, but they are already making headlines.
After the departure of the University's athletic director to Texas A&M, head baseball coach Ray Tanner was announced as the replacement. Chad Holbrook was named as Tanner's successor.
These sudden moves, coupled with a disappointing end to the 2012 season and the loss of ace Michael Roth, have prompted many Gamecock fans to express doubts and concerns for next season.
What they do not know is that the 2013 South Carolina baseball squad may be one of the most dangerous yet.
Chad Holbrook could not be a more well-suited candidate to take over the head coach job. He has been with the Gamecocks since 2008 and spent the last four seasons as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. He has also served as hitting instructor and third base coach.
This means Holbrook was very engaged with the players and understands their individual strengths and weaknesses. This connection and experience will allow for a smoother transition for both the players and the new staff. Holbrook was Ray Tanner's right-hand man, and therefore knows his strategies and styles.
Even though a new face will be representing South Carolina baseball, many of the old ways will remain the same.
The Gamecocks also have an advantage in the recruiting field because of Holbrook's former position. He can now be more personable with recruits and make them feel more comfortable. This will hopefully lead to more higher-rated recruits coming to South Carolina and making their program that much stronger.
The Gamecocks are only losing two major starters for next year, pitcher Michael Roth and outfielder Adam Matthews. Their top six hitters, as well as some of their top pitchers, will be returning.
Most of South Carolina's key players from last season, both on the field and in the bullpen, were underclassmen. The experience that these players gained will be a huge factor as they enter the 2013 season.
The upperclassmen also learned how to be leaders for the team, which helped carry them throughout the season and into the CWS. The combination of this veteran leadership and the young players' real-time experience will help the Gamecocks moving forward.
On top of all of the returning players, South Carolina is bringing in one of the top-rated freshman recruiting classes. The committed players include shortstop Corey Seager, a five-star recruit from North Carolina, and Hall of Famer Cal Ripken's son, Ryan Ripken. These two players, along with the rest of the class, will look to immediately contribute at the plate and in the field.
The Gamecocks are a very poised squad, making it to three straight CWS championships and winning two of them. They know how to win and how and when to come up big when the chips are down.
Any concerns that Gamecock baseball fans have for the 2013 season should be erased. The team of garnet and black will look to avenge their tough finish in 2012 and come back stronger than ever and show why no one should ever count them out.
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