COLUMBIA — They’re hosting.
What seed they’ll host as is now the question.
South Carolina was selected as one of the 16 host sites for this weekend’s NCAA Regionals, ensuring the Gamecocks will start the postseason in the cozy confines of Founders Park. Who they’ll play will be announced at noon on May 31, but with the stadium re-opening to full capacity two weeks ago, USC (33-21) has the warm possibility of over 8,200 fans standing with it in its quest to reach the College World Series.
Almost always, the hosting school is the No. 1 seed in its regional, but the Gamecocks may have slipped to No. 2. Their SEC Tournament participation was limited to one game, a 9-3 thrashing from Alabama on May 25, and they’ve been at home since while other teams have been firming their resumes.
Conference USA champion Old Dominion has received some projections that it will be a No. 1 seed in a road regional since it was not selected as one of the NCAA’s 20 potential host sites on May 14. If so, the Monarchs would start the regionals against the lowest seed in the regional, while the No. 2 team would play the No. 3.
USC got into the discussion of hosting due to winning 16 games against a loaded SEC slate and having a top-15 RPI most of the year, with a strength of schedule rated in the top 2-3 of the country. Columbia was picked as one of the 20 potential hosts on May 14.
The Gamecocks went 5-3 after the announcement, and if they had found two more runs to switch a 5-4 regular season-ending loss to Tennessee, that probably would have clinched a No. 1 seed. They went to the SEC Tournament hoping to strengthen their case.
As it often has, the tournament treated them like an old shoe. After not playing since May 25, the Gamecocks’ RPI slipped to 18 before the announcement.
But it was still enough to host. It will be the first regional USC has hosted since 2016.
The other 15 host sites are (school): Fayetteville, Ark. (Arkansas), Knoxville, Tenn. (Tennessee), Greenville, N.C. (East Carolina), Austin, Texas (Texas), Gainesville, Fla. (Florida), Nashville, Tenn. (Vanderbilt), Tucson, Ariz. (Arizona), Lubbock, Texas (Texas Tech), South Bend, Ind. (Notre Dame), Eugene, Ore. (Oregon), Fort Worth, Texas (TCU), Oxford, Miss. (Ole Miss), Starkville, Miss. (Mississippi State), Ruston, La. (Louisiana Tech) and Stanford, Calif. (Stanford).
USC announced that its regional will begin on June 4.