After two national titles, how can this year measure up for the South Carolina baseball team? That depends on your expectations. Success can be defined many ways, and how you define success will go a long way toward defining this season. There are certain levels of success that are expected of this program. Other goals are ambitious, and some are dreams come true. Here are some goals for the season, categorized by expectation.
1) I expect a team I can be proud of. I would like many more wins than losses, but my first expectation is a team that represents the University and state well and plays the game the way it ought to be played. Ray Tanner has done an exceptional job meeting this expectation every year.
2) Regional. The Gamecocks have been to 12 consecutive tournaments. It’s expected they will go to a 13th.
3) Winning the season series against Clemson. In recent years the Gamecocks have started to dominate the series. Here are the last few years' series results. This should continue.
4) Super Regional. I debated whether this should be an expectation or an ambition. Based on recent years, this is has really become an expectation. The Super Regional has only been around since 1999. In the 13 seasons it has existed, Carolina has advanced to play in it 9 times.
1) Regular Season SEC Champions. This is always something special. South Carolina has finished with the best conference record in 2000, 2002 and 2011. This is a lofty goal, especially this year given the talent in the rest of the conference.
2) College World Series Appearance. This isn't quite as rare as the SEC championship, but it is too difficult and too lofty to ever be an expectation. Two years in a row is very impressive; three would tie a program record.
1) Winning the SEC Tournament. USC hasn't typically played their best baseball in Hoover, so this is an especially lofty goal. However, if they could pull this off, the season would be one for the ages regardless of what happened the rest of the way.
2) Winning a 3rd College World Series. This is the loftiest of goals. If South Carolina somehow found a way to do this, you would have to talk about these three years as some of the best in college baseball history. You would be hard pressed to come up with adjectives to explain just how amazing this would be.
What do you want out out of the 2012 baseball season?