**Story by Kyle Heck/photo by Allen Sharpe**
South Carolina baseball coach Chad Holbrook knows that the expectation every year at South Carolina is to make the NCAA Tournament, at the very least. So when the Gamecocks learned that they were one of the first four teams left out of this year's field on Monday, there was a lot of disappointment.
Holbrook was told just before the selection show on Monday that his team would not make the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years.
Of course, that brings up the question of Holbrook's future, which he discussed on Tuesday afternoon at a season wrap-up press conference. Right now, Holbrook is doing what he normally does, meeting with players and going on recruiting trips.
"I met with the team and we're making progress and making plans to make sure that this doesn't happen again in 2018," Holbrook said. "We're working hard from a recruiting standpoint to keep our class intact. We've got an incredible recruiting class coming in next year."
Sometime in the near future, Holbrook will sit down and talk with Athletics Director Ray Tanner about a variety of things. While a final decision on the coach's future will be made at that time, Holbrook said the meeting takes place every year, whether the Gamecocks have a successful season or not.
"We haven't had that conversation," Holbrook said when asked if Tanner has assured him he'll be back next season. "We'll have that conversation in a short period of time when we meet and talk about the end of the year."
While missing the NCAA Tournament two out of three years has drawn Holbrook a lot of criticism, he still has the utmost confidence in himself.
"I feel great about who Chad Holbrook is," Holbrook said. "I'm not going to sit here and say I haven't made mistakes. We're all human beings, sometimes mistakes are made. But I feel great about my ability to coach and lead this baseball program. I love this University and I love this community. So many people have been supportive of me, my family and our program."
Holbrook lamented the fact that South Carolina dealt with injuries throughout the season. All-American closer Tyler Johnson missed a large chunk of the year, and ace Clarke Schmidt's season was ended during the Florida series. In addition, Chris Cullen and Madison Stokes both had their season end early because of injuries, and TJ Hopkins was never fully healthy during the 2017 season.
Throw that in with the extremely tough schedule the Gamecocks played, and it was a recipe for a disappointing season. It was certainly filled with disappointing, late-game losses that ultimately cost the team a chance in the NCAA Tournament.
"You look across the country and look at overall schedules and records, you're talking about maybe one game or one pitch and we're sitting here talking about our game on Friday (NCAA Tournament)," Holbrook said. "But it didn't happen, so you have to take a long hard look at why it didn't happen."
Holbrook said he'll evaluate every aspect of the team, including himself, to try and turn things around. He doesn't know about his future, but Holbrook understands the disappointment that comes when a program like South Carolina misses out on the NCAA Tournament.
He just hopes he gets the opportunity to turn it all around.
"I love the fan base at South Carolina," Holbrook said. "They want to win, and they expect to win, and that's one of the great things about this program. I understand their disappointment, and no one was more disappointed than I was. We look forward to making a lot of people happy here in the future."