Gamecocks picked 4th in SEC East Preseason Poll

Gamecocks picked 4th in SEC East Preseason Poll
Sophomore Wes Clarke drove in a career-high seven runs with a pair of round trippers as the University of South Carolina baseball team scored eight runs in the first two innings in a 12-3 win over Northwestern Saturday afternoon (Feb. 22) at Founders Park. (Source: South Carolina Baseball)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Junior Wes Clarke was named to the Preseason All-Southeastern Conference second team while the University of South Carolina baseball team has been picked to finish fourth in the SEC’s Eastern Division by the league’s 14 coaches, the conference announced this afternoon (Thursday, Feb. 11).

Clarke, who has been named a Preseason All-American by Collegiate Baseball, led the SEC and was tied for third in the country with eight home runs in 2020 while driving in 22, which was tied for third in the league. Clarke hit .286 with 14 runs scored in 16 games played for the Gamecocks. He was 3-for-4 with three runs scored, two home runs and seven RBI in a win over Northwestern on Feb. 22. He also hit the game-winning home run in the top of the 12th inning in a 2-1 win at Furman (March 3). Clarke had a .406 on-base percentage and did not commit an error at first base for Carolina.

The Gamecocks earned 55 votes in the coaches’ poll, good for fourth in the division behind Florida (91 votes, 13 first-place votes), Vanderbilt (79 votes, 1 first-place votes) and Tennessee (58 votes). Carolina was followed by Georgia (51 votes), Missouri (28 votes) and Kentucky (23 votes).

Ole Miss has been picked to win the Western Division with 78 votes and seven first-place votes. The Rebels were followed by Mississippi State (73 votes, 3 first-place votes), Arkansas (72 votes, 2 first-place votes), LSU (63 votes, 2 first-place votes), Texas A&M (36 votes), Auburn (32 votes) and Alabama (31 votes).

Florida earned 12 votes to win the SEC championship, followed by Mississippi State and Vanderbilt with one vote apiece.

The Gamecocks will open the 2021 season on Friday, Feb. 19 against Dayton with a 4 p.m. first pitch.

2021 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll

Eastern Division

1. Florida (13) - 91

2. Vanderbilt (1) - 79

3. Tennessee - 58

4. South Carolina - 55

5. Georgia - 51

6. Missouri - 28

7. Kentucky - 23

Western Division

1. Ole Miss (7) - 78

2. Mississippi State (3) - 73

3. Arkansas (2) - 72

4. LSU (2) - 63

5. Texas A&M - 36

6. Auburn - 32

7. Alabama - 31

() - First place votes

SEC Champion: Florida (12), Mississippi State (1), Vanderbilt (1)

2021 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team

First Team

C: Casey Opitz, Arkansas

1B: T.J. Collett, Kentucky

2B: Robert Moore, Arkansas

3B: Rankin Woley, Auburn

SS: Ryan Bliss, Auburn

OF: Jud Fabian, Florida

OF: Christian Franklin, Arkansas

OF: Tanner Allen, Mississippi State

DH/UTL: Matt Goodheart, Arkansas

SP: Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt

SP: Connor Prielipp, Alabama

RP: Devin Fontenot, LSU

Second Team

C: Hayden Dunhurst, Ole Miss

1B: Josh Hatcher, Mississippi State

2B: Max Ferguson, Tennessee

3B: Tim Elko, Ole Miss

SS: Josh Rivera, Florida

OF: Rowdey Jordan, Mississippi State

OF: Owen Diodati, Alabama

OF: Cade Beloso, LSU

DH/UTL: Wes Clarke, South Carolina

SP: Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt

SP: Tommy Mace, Florida

RP: Ben Specht, Florida

*Tie (ties are not broken)