COLUMBIA — South Carolina was picked to finish third in the SEC East in a preseason poll of the league’s coaches released Thursday, while a pair of Gamecocks were named to the preseason All-SEC first team.
USC was picked third in the East behind defending national champion Vanderbilt and Florida, which received 11 and three first-place votes respectively. The Gamecocks were chosen ahead of Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky and Missouri in the division.
LSU was the consensus pick to win the West, receiving 13 first-place votes. The Tigers were chosen ahead of Alabama, Texas A&M (which received one first-place vote), Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn.
Vanderbilt, the consensus preseason No. 1 in the nation, was also predicted to be overall SEC champion, receiving 11 votes along with two for Florida and one for LSU.
South Carolina infielders Max Schrock and D.C. Arendas were named preseason first-team All-SEC, while first baseman Kyle Martin and pitcher Taylor Widener were named to the second team. Schrock hit .299 with five home runs last year in an injury-plagued season, while Arendas hit .271 with four homers. Martin was USC’s leading hitter last season at .336, while Widener went 3-0 with a 1.79 ERA in 21 appearances.
South Carolina, 44-18 last season, opens the 2015 campaign with a three-game set against the College of Charleston beginning Friday at 4 p.m. at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks are ranked in the top 10 in some preseason polls.