Coastal Carolina coach Gary Gilmore felt goosebumps as he saw his Chanticleers listed as national seeds in the NCAA tournament alongside perennial powerhouses like Arizona State and Texas.
Monday's announcement was the culmination of a decade of work to become the top college baseball team in South Carolina. But Gilmore's team has a bigger goal -- to become this year's breakout team in the College World Series.
The Big South-champion Chanticleers' 51 wins are the most in Division I this season.
It's all part of Gilmore's vision, which started 15 years ago when he returned to his alma mater to coach. The Chanticleers have made nine NCAA tournaments in the past 10 years. But they have made the super regionals just once, leaving Gilmore to remind his team the goal is to go somewhere the team has never been -- the College World Series.
"This is our best and most successful team," Gilmore said Monday. "The impetus is, can we shed some demons and move forward."
Coastal Carolina's only super regional came in 2008, losing to North Carolina. Those losses stung Gilmore, who vowed to improve his pitching. The Chants' team ERA is one of the best in the country at 3.19, nearly a run better than last year.
Coastal will open the regional Friday against Stony Brook (29-25), the winner of the America East Conference. On the other side of the bracket is the College of Charleston (42-17), one of only two teams to beat the Chants' twice this season.