COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina baseball entered this season with expectations of reaching Omaha and another College World Series.
Although the season has not gone according to plan — the Gamecocks need a miraculous run in the SEC Tournament just to reach the NCAA Tournament — coach Chad Holbrook still has no doubt he is the man for the job of getting South Carolina back to Omaha.
“I haven’t lost one ounce of confidence in myself,” Holbrook said. “I feel in my heart I’m a good baseball coach and a good person. I know the game. I know I can be a successful coach and get the Gamecocks back to Omaha.”
South Carolina (32-23) opens the SEC Tournament against Vanderbilt at 10:30 am ET Tuesday with senior Reed Scott on the mound.
Holbrook was blunt in the reality of South Carolina’s standing heading into the tournament: The Gamecocks need wins to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons. And he knows the criticism that has existed throughout the season would grow louder if the Gamecocks miss out on postseason play in a season that was expected to be a great one.
“I’m a big boy and I can handle it,” Holbrook said. “You have to embrace the expectations here. Yes, some things haven’t gone our way. Yes, we’ve had some injuries and we’ve had some issues maybe beyond our control. At South Carolina, no matter what, there’s no excuses. You need to win.
“We’ve had some disappointing games obviously and lost some close ones. That’s my responsibility. I’m the head coach. It starts and ends with me. I get that.”
It has been a long, frustrating season for the Gamecocks, who can potentially salvage it with a long run in Hoover. And that’s what Holbrook is focused on as the Gamecocks ready for do-or-die time.
“I’ve got a lot of things to worry about,” Holbrook said. “The first thing to worry about is my team and playing tomorrow. I’m going to be okay one way or the other. I’m not worried about Chad Holbrook. I’m worried about getting our team ready to play the best baseball it can. Hopefully, we will do that tomorrow.”