COLUMBIA - South Carolina has advanced to six College World Series since 2002. In that time, its three regional guests combined for zero NCAA tournament berths - until this year.
Things don't get any more lopsided. The Gamecocks are the team with all the experience in the NCAA Columbia Regional, which begin Friday at Carolina Stadium. No. 2 Maryland, No. 3 Old Dominion and No. 4 Campbell have none.
"I know you're playing a monster here in their home park," Maryland coach John Szefc said Thursday. "Everybody knows that."
But does it matter? How important is experience this time of year? Naturally, Gamecocks coach Chad Holbrook downplayed the seismic advantage his team holds, but the coach also made a respectable point.
Holbrook pointed to the championship run South Carolina made in 2010. None of the Gamecocks players had ever been to Omaha. They had no College World Series experience. It didn't matter.
South Carolina's 2010 season ended in a dogpile on the mound at Rosenblatt Stadium, a national championship in hand.
"I feel good knowing that our players have experienced this type of postseason play before," Holbrook said. "I think it helps them psychologically at some point, but we went to the College World Series in 2010, none of our players had ever been there before, and we won the dang thing. So, if you're going to play well, you have a chance to win.
"If Campbell comes in to play well and we don't, they're going to have a chance to win. If we play well and they play well, they still may have a chance to win. College baseball is very, very easily matched. A lot of parity."
Campbell coach Greg Goff put it another way.
"Baseball is a crazy game," Goff said. "Not the biggest and best always wins. You put a guy on the mound that can pitch, play great defense and get some timely hitting - anything can happen.
"We call it black magic. You try to create some black magic, and good things will happen."
South Carolina is hoping to avoid any surprises this weekend. Still, in the game of baseball, nothing is guaranteed. It's why Holbrook said his team won't take anything for granted.
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