COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The Gamecocks host Connecticut this weekend in a Super Regional. The winner advances to the College World Series.
Because of South Carolina's recent success in the baseball post season, it's easy to forget the times of disappointment. For Coach Ray Tanner, those memories still sting, and they provide the experience and resolve needed to win.
Tanner looks loose throwing batting practice to his players Friday afternoon at Carolina Stadium. Why wouldn't he be? He's the head coach of the defending champs, and it's the 9th team he's led this program to the Super Regionals. But comfort doesn't equal cocky in Tanner's world. "You start thinking about down the road, you are in big trouble," said Tanner.
Tanner has reason to be cautious. He has a record of 50% in the supers. He's won four and lost four. South Carolina sat two wins away from Omaha in 2000 and 2001, only to fall short. In 2002, they were right back in the same spot. "I don't like to think about it," said Tanner, "I called Coach Bertman at LSU and said I need help. I was a wreck"
Apparently the advice helped as Tanner led his team to three straight trips to the College World Series. "Time passed," said Tanner. "We had some success."
With success came a calmer approach to the post season. "A great deal of comfort and realization took place," said Tanner. "It is what it is and try to enjoy the experience."