2010 Top 10

GamecockAnthem reviews the year that was in Gamecock athletics, breaking down the top 10 moments in 2010. From the baseball National Championship to the wins over the #1's and success against the hated rival Clemson Tigers, 2010 was a banner year for Gamecock athletics.

2010 is gone. Even though the final two football games of 2010 have left a bad taste in the mouths of Gamecock Nation, 2010 will undoubtedly be remembered as the best year for Gamecock athletics in school history.

10. Tiger Domination

South Carolina had a pretty good year against their rivals to say the least. Two of South Carolina's four losses to the Tigers in 2010 came in baseball, but the Gamecocks made up for those nicely in Omaha. The other two losses came in women's tennis and volleyball.

Of the nine Gamecock victories, several were historic. As mentioned above, the Gamecock soccer team shut out the Tigers for the fourth straight time. The women's soccer team shut out the Tigers for the third straight time. Also as mentioned, the baseball team swept the Tigers out of Omaha for the second time and is now 4-0 against their rivals in CWS. The men's basketball team broke a six game losing streak to the Tigers to give Horn his first victory over Clemson, and Dawn Staley recorded her first victory over the Tigers at Carolina as well. Of course the biggest was the 29-7 victory in Death Valley as the Gamecock football team beat the Tigers for the second time in a row for the first time in 40 years.

9. Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center Opens Doors

When this beautiful, $13-million dollar building opened this spring, Eric Hyman said it is "the heart of the athletics department and the place where the ebb and flow of student-athletes' days are centered."

The three-story , 40,000 square foot building sits across from Stone Stadium where The Roost used to be.

"The Dodie" features:

- Full-service cafeteria

- Dietitian's Office

- Audio/visual multi-purpose room

- 20 tutoring rooms

- 15 seminar rooms

- Math and English labs

- Special needs learning lab

- One large quiet study room

- One small quiet study room

- One computer lab containing 58 computers

- Two computer labs containing 16 computers

- Student-athlete lounge

- Academic support staff offices

- Wireless capabilities throughout the facility

- Academic Hall of Fame

8. Men's Soccer Makes a Run

The South Carolina soccer team faced an extremely difficult schedule. At times the Gamecocks struggled. The Gamecocks finished the regular season with a 9-6-2 record and a 4-3-1 record in the always difficult Conference USA. That prepared the Gamecocks to make a run through the conference tournament and a conference championship, and they were rewarded with the #7 national seed in the NCAA tournament.

Bradlee Baldez's 'golden goal' with 59 seconds remaining in the first overtime gave the Gamecocks a 1-0 win over Duke in Carolina's first match of the NCAA Tournament and lifted them to the Sweet 16. The Gamecocks fell to Michigan, 3-1, in the Sweet 16 as the Wolverines advanced all the way to the Final Four. That did nothing to diminish what the Gamecocks did in 2010, including a fourth consecutive shutout victory over Clemson.

7. Signing the Dotted Line

Rarely is the signing of a player noteworthy enough of being a top 10 moment. Rarely do you sign a player like Marcus Lattimore. When Lattimore pulled the Auburn hat out of the bag given to him by Spartanburg native and former Auburn running back Stephen Davis the hearts of Gamecocks fans everywhere dropped. That didn't last long as Lattimore tossed the hat aside, revealing a South Carolina hat underneath as Sandstorm started playing in the background at his church. Few players played as big a role in 2010 as Lattimore did and few may play a bigger role in the future success of the Gamecock program. Lattimore very well could be the biggest pick-up in Gamecock football history. Of course that very well could change on February 2nd, 2011...

6. End of an Era

Many will think this is too high - if even deserving to be on the list - but on April 22nd the winningest coach in school history retired. Joyce Compton, who recorded 951 wins as the South Carolina softball coach, retired after 23 years at the university. Compton started a tradition of winning at Carolina, leading the Gamecocks to 13 NCAA tournament appearances and two WCWS trips. Compton also led the Gamecocks to four SEC East Championships, two SEC Tournament Championships, and the inaugural SEC Championship in 1997, in which the Gamecocks won an NCAA record 38 consecutive games that season. The Gamecocks last made the postseason in 2007 where the team made its first appearance in a Super Regional since softball went to that format.

The Gamecocks have struggled in recent years and hit an all-time low under Compton in the 2010 season, going just 11-40 overall and 1-27 in SEC play, forcing Athletic Director Eric Hyman to make a difficult choice.

On July 15th, Hyman officially introduced Beverly Smith as the 10th coach in the 38-year history of the program. Smith moves over from the North Carolina staff, where she spent 12 years as an assistant and associate head coach. She also served as the lead recruiter for the Tar Heel program - who became a power in the southeast under her recruiting - and she hit the ground running at South Carolina, inking three in her first class as Gamecock head coach. Smith led the Gamecocks to a 6-1 record in the fall and finished things out with an exhibition against the National Pro Fastpitch All-Star team. That exhibition game saw an overflowing, standing room only crowd that Smith undoubtedly wants to see in the future at Beckham Field.

The Beverly Smith era officially kicks off on February 11th against Charleston Southern in the first game of the Palmetto State Showdown. The Gamecocks will face CSU, Coastal and USC Upstate in the Palmetto State Showdown, as well as hosting another in-state foe, Winthrop, in the first week of the season.

5. Gator Beatdown

As Steve Spurrier took his team down to his old stomping grounds, everything was on the line. The winner goes to Atlanta, the loser watches on TV. After Florida ran the opening kick back for a touchdown, it was Spurrier and the Gamecocks that did all the stomping in the Swamp. Marcus Lattimore rushed for 212 yards and three touchdowns and Garcia's touchdown run clinched the victory as Carolina rolled to a 36-14 win for their first victory in the Swamp and clinched a trip to Atlanta.

4. Downey Downs Kentucky

To say the least, Devan Downey put on a show. The senior poured in 30 points and made the #1 Wildcats look foolish on defense all night as the Gamecocks stunned Ashley Judd and Wildcat fans everywhere in a 68-62 win. Downey was a human highlight reel, literally running circles around the 'Cats. It wasn't quite enough to propel the Gamecocks into postseason play, but for one night, made everyone - including Kentucky guard Eric Bledsoe - believers.

3. Bama Goes Down!

Basketball coach Darrin Horn deserves all the credit in the world - and the #4 spot in the top 10 - to get the ball rolling for the "giant killers," but the 35-21 win over #1 Alabama is the single biggest win in school history. With GameDay in town and the whole country watching, the Gamecocks shocked the country and began a three week stretch of #1's losing. Quarterback Stephen Garcia cemented his starting job and his own place in Gamecock history for his performance and the offense made just enough plays to keep Alabama at bay as South Carolina joined only the Florida Gators as a program that defeated the #1 team in football, basketball, and baseball in one athletic calendar year.

2. SEC Championship Game

For the first time since joining the SEC nearly 20 years ago, the Gamecocks football team did the unthinkable by winning the SEC East and making their first appearance in the SEC Championship game. Had the game gone differently this moment could have possibly rivaled the baseball team's run, but still worthy of the number two slot in 2010.

1. 2010 CWS Champions

How could you not put this at #1? Questions were raised after the 19-6 beating the Gamecocks received at home against rival Clemson. Those questions were put away as the Gamecocks tore through the SEC schedule, winning eight of their first nine series that set up a winner-take-all showdown for the East with the Florida Gators. After losing two of three to the Gators and letting the SEC East title slip through their fingers and following that up by going two and out in the SEC Tournament, the Gamecocks lost their national seed but set up a magical run through the post season in the process.

The Gamecocks had to use three comeback victories just to escape the Regionals to set up an instate showdown with Coastal in the Super Regionals. The Gamecocks used the heroics of closer Matt Price in Game 1 and an 8th inning 3-run bomb off the bat of Christian Walker in Game 2 to stun the Chants and send the Gamecocks back to Omaha for the first time since 2004.

As has been the norm for the Carolina in Omaha, the Gamecocks started off with a loss - this one to Oklahoma. The Gamecocks rebounded by beating down #1 seed Arizona State to set up a rematch with the Sooners.

A 12th-inning homerun for Oklahoma seemingly ended the season for Carolina, the magic came back. A 2-strike, 2-out single off the bat of Jackie Bradley, Jr. scored Robert Beary to tie the game. After a Jeffery Jones walk, Brady Thomas delivered the first pitch he saw into center field to score Bradley, Jr. and set up a Palmetto State showdown with rival Clemson for a chance to play for the National Championship.

The Gamecocks used a brilliant pitching performance by Michael Roth to force a deciding game in which Carolina won on timely hitting to send the Tigers packing - again - and send the Gamecocks to the National Championship series.

From the inspiration from Bayler Teal to Whit Merrifield's championship-winning single in the 11th inning, there's no moment in 2010 - and perhaps Gamecock history - that rivals this run.

"The game is over! The game is over! The wait is over! The Gamecocks are the National Champions!" ~ Andy Demetra's final call.

2010 was a special year for the Gamecocks, highlighted by that National Championship in baseball. But the year is now in the books. 2011 is here. Who knows what the future holds, but it looks bright for Gamecock athletics.

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