Trojan Baseball Was Making Big Strides

The USC baseball team was 10-5 and coming off victories over No. 22 TCU and No. 2 Vanderbilt before its season was canceled because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  It was all going according to Jason Gill’s plan.

In his first year as USC head baseball coach, the Trojans were starting to buy into his vision and culture. Better yet, USC was winning, and winning some statement games at that.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans.

Gill was on a conference call with USC athletic director Mike Bohn and every other head coach at USC to discuss the new university protocol for the athletic department as it responded to the spread of the coronavirus. In the middle of that call, the announcement was made: The NCAA had canceled all winter and spring championships.

After this stunning development, Gill was left to inform his players during a team meeting.

“It was somber, it was sad. Guys were hugging and crying, and by the end of it we were laughing and smiling and just enjoying each other and what we had accomplished in a short period of time,” Gill said. “I felt like they handled it like champions, to be honest with you.”

Like anyone in this situation, Gill understands the decisions made. Public health is the most important factor right now, as it should be.

 

 

But that doesn’t take away the sting of the premature end of his first season at USC after 11 years at LMU. The Trojans were 10-5 to start the year and had won both of its weekend series.

The culture, he felt, had already shifted from the three previous losing seasons.

Gill could see it in the team’s work ethic. As the effort level increased, the number of excuses for miscues decreased.

Players like Jamal O’Guinn, Ben Ramirez, Quentin Longrie, John Thomas, Kyle Hurt, Tyler Pritchard and Brady Shockey provided veteran leadership to help Gill make the changes necessary.

“Any time your best players are buying into the message, then the rest of the people usually follow,” Gill said. “I leaned on them a lot to ask them questions about what the heartbeat of the team was and they informed me all along the way.”

But perhaps the most clear examples came this past weekend, when USC beat No. 22 TCU 2-1, then followed that by beating No. 2 Vanderbilt, the defending national champion, by the same score.

“I think it was confirmation for them realizing they are good baseball players who can compete with anybody in the country,” Gill said. “We have good players that just needed to learn that they’re good. I know we didn’t win the College World Series, but I feel like it was confirmation to all of us that we were moving in the right direction.”

Questions remain whether this season will count against eligibility for student-athletes in spring sports. Gill said he would support granting an extra year of eligibility, and on Friday the NCAA released a statement saying it was considering doing just that.

But for now, a season was jarringly cut short in a way no one could see coming.

“I don’t even know if it sunk in with everybody. When your season ends, typically if you’re not going to the postseason, the writing’s on the wall,” Gill said. “If you make it into the postseason, you’re playing high-stress games and you know every game could be your last game.

“Today’s end was nothing we could prepare for.”

ocregister.com

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RialtoTrojan
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Noble Member

Major League Baseball and the NBA are not like the NFL in their requirement of playing time for student athletes. In fact the last I checked MLB drafts kids right out of High School-making recruiting for college a lot tougher. So My question or observation is; can we expect the players to return if they can earn money? IS granting an extension a moot point? Trojan Baseball and Basketball were actually looking like Trojan sports again.