COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina baseball coach Chad Holbrook hasn't been surprised by anything that's happened during his debut season, not even the second-guessing from fans expecting more after two national championships and a runner-up finish last year.
Holbrook has worked to continue the program's success after taking over for Ray Tanner, now the athletic director at South Carolina. The Gamecocks (38-10) are poised to win 40 games for a 14th straight season, a feat no other Southeastern Conference team can match. They'll also likely to make their 14th straight NCAA trip, also the longest streak among SEC members.
Still, there was plenty of squirming from fans when South Carolina was swept at Florida last month, then dropped two straight at home to Vanderbilt, who's ranked No. 1 in both College Baseball and Baseball America's top 25s.
"Fans do get spoiled," Holbrook says.
Holbrook was angered by the losses, too, and then received a dose of perspective from his boss, Tanner, the man who hired him away from North Carolina in 2008.
"He was sort of frustrated a little bit," Tanner said. "I said to him, 'You couldn't do anything else. You guys did great'" in losses of 3-2 and 5-2. The third game of the Vanderbilt series was rained out and not made up.
The Gamecocks end the SEC regular season with three games at Mississippi State starting Thursday. Then comes the SEC tournament. Bids to the NCAA tournament will be announced May 27.
Holbrook hasn't let the up and downs that come during the regular season alter his goals about advancing as far as possible in the postseason. Slumps and dips are part of every program when you play at this level, he said.
"No team in this league is immune to a difficult stretch because of how difficult the league is," Holbrook says.
He understood coming in he was responsible for a crown jewel program with the Gamecocks and has worked hard to keep it polished to succeed in the sport's biggest moments. Holbrook had some large spikes to fill with the losses of ace Michael Roth, closer Matt Price and slugging first baseman Christian Walker, who all left for the major leagues after last year's College World Series.