Dec. 19, 2011
Columbia, S.C. - South Carolina is ranked No. 2 in the nation in the 2012 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Top 40 as announced on Monday afternoon. The Gamecocks open the 2012 season on Friday, Feb. 17 hosting a three-game series with VMI at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina is the back-to-back defending national champion in NCAA Division I Baseball after winning consecutive titles at the 2010 and 2011 College World Series.
South Carolina is one of six SEC schools to be ranked in the preseason poll. Also ranked is Florida (No. 1), Arkansas (No. 8), LSU (No. 12), Georgia (No. 18) and Vanderbilt (No. 23).
Carolina returns several letterwinners from last year's national championship squad including 2011 All-Americans Matt Price (RHP), Michael Roth (LHP) and Christian Walker (1B). Roth, a consensus All-American and CollegeBaseballInsider.com's National Player of the Year in 2011, went 14-3 last year while posting a 1.06 ERA in 145.0 innings of work. Price was also a consensus All-American in 2011 and a finalist for the 2011 NCBWA Stopper of the Year award. He earned first-team All-SEC honors and was on the College World Series All-Tournament Team. One of the nation's top closers in 2011, Price went 7-3 with a 1.83 ERA along with 20 saves in 59.0 innings pitched. A first-team All-SEC selection, opponents hit just .213 against him as he compiled 75 strikeouts. Price is looking to begin the 2012 season in the weekend rotation. Walker earned third-team All-America honors last year from Baseball America. He was the team's leading hitter in the 2011 season with a .358 average (97-for-271) along with 21 doubles, a triple, 10 homers and 62 RBI. A second-team All-SEC selection, Walker would go on to earn College World Series All-Tournament Team honors after playing the entire CWS Championship Series with a broken hamate bone in his left wrist.
Other returning starters with experience include senior outfielders Adam Matthews (.264-2-14) and Jake Williams (.268-2-38) along with junior outfielder Evan Marzilli (.291-3-31). Back in the mix on the mound are junior right-hander Colby Holmes (7-3, 3.69 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Forrest Koumas.
The Gamecocks also welcome in Collegiate Baseball's No. 1 ranked recruiting class. The Gamecock newcomers include seven players that have been drafted as well as several standouts from both the high school and junior college ranks.
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's NCAA Div. I Pre-Season Top 40 Poll
11. St. John's (36-22) 470
21. Cal. St. Fullerton (41-17) 449
31. Missouri St. (33-23) 419
OTHER TEAMS RECEIVING VOTES: Coastal Carolina, Oklahoma St., Charlotte, East Carolina, Kent St., Creighton, Oral Roberts, Troy, South Alabama, San Diego, Gonzaga, San Francisco, Fresno St., Hawaii, Dallas Baptist, N.C. State, Mississippi St., Auburn, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Stony Brook, Maine, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Notre Dame, South Florida, Liberty, Winthrop, Purdue, Michigan St., Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas St., Texas Tech., Missouri, Cal Poly, Long Beach St., U.C. Riverside, James Madison, Tulane, Houston, Manhattan, Rider, Central Michigan, Illinois St., New Mexico, San Diego St., Nevada-Las Vegas, Austin Peay St., Samford, Elon, N.C. Greensboro, S.E. Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, San Jose St., New Mexico St., Cal. St. Bakersfield.
South Carolina is the back-to-back defending national champion in NCAA Division I Baseball after winning consecutive titles at the 2010 and 2011 College World Series. South Carolina has 10 College World Series appearances including five in the last 10 years under head coach Ray Tanner. Under Tanner's leadership, South Carolina owns the fourth highest win total in the nation in the last 12 years with a 577-231 record. South Carolina is one of eight schools to appear in the NCAA Regional every season in the last 12 years including nine NCAA Super Regional appearances in that span, one of only five schools to accomplish the feat.
Carolina owns more overall wins than any SEC team in the last 12 years and more conference wins than any SEC team in the last 12 years with a 222-137 conference record. South Carolina is the only SEC school to record 40 or more wins each season from 2000-present and the only SEC school to reach the NCAA Regional every season in the last 12 years. The Gamecocks also have the most NCAA Super Regional appearances of the 12 SEC schools in the last 12 years.
Head coach Ray Tanner is the second winningest coach in Southeastern Conference history with a .699 winning percentage in 15 seasons at the helm of the Garnet & Black.
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