Dec. 21, 2007
Columbia, S.C. - The South Carolina baseball team has been ranked No. 2 in the 2008 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll released on Friday afternoon. The Gamecocks will open the season on February 22 hosting East Carolina in a three-game series at Sarge Frye Field.
Carolina returns six position starters from last year's NCAA Super Regional team including All-America junior first baseman Justin Smoak (.315-22-72) and All-America senior catcher Phil Disher (.328-15-63). The lineup also features junior third baseman James Darnell (.331-19-63, who earned second team All-SEC accolades, junior shortstop Reese Havens (.274-5-43), who was an All-Star in the Cape Cod League this past summer as well as junior infielder Andrew Crisp (.283-8-28) and senior outfielder Harley Lail (.291-4-25). The Gamecock offense returns 74 home runs from last year's squad that led the nation with a total of 113 on the year.
Starting pitchers back on the mound for the Gamecocks this year are junior right-handed pitcher Mike Cisco (6-2, 3.84 ERA) and sophomore Blake Cooper (7-2, 4.48 ERA). Cooper was a freshman All-America selection last season by Collegiate Baseball. Junior left-handed pitchers Will Atwood (2-2, 4.91 ERA) and Alex Farotto (1-0, 4.06 ERA, 45 K, 31.0IP) are also back on the hill for the Gamecocks as well as senior right-handed pitcher Curtis Johnson (1-3, 3.38 ERA, 54 K, 42.2 IP), a NCAA All-Regional Team selection.
Carolina is one of six SEC teams to be ranked by Collegiate Baseball. Ole Miss ranks fourth, Vanderbilt is 11th, Kentucky ranks 20th, Mississippi State comes in at 27th with LSU tabbed at No. 30. The 2008 schedule features 56 games including 23 against teams that advanced to the NCAA Regionals last year as well as 35 home games.
South Carolina is one of only two schools in the nation to reach the NCAA Super Regionals in seven of the last eight years (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007). Since the 2000 season, the Gamecocks are the only SEC squad to reach the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament each year and have compiled eight consecutive 40-plus win seasons. The Gamecocks have also put together a 388-155 record in that span, the fourth highest win total in Division I baseball as well as an SEC-best 147-92 in conference match-ups. That list also includes three trips to the College World Series (2002, 2003, 2004), two SEC Championships (2000, 2002) and one SEC Tournament title (2004).
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's
1. Arizona (42-17)
11. Vanderbilt (54-13)
21. Fresno St. (38-29)
31. Oklahoma St. (42-21)
OTHER TEAMS RECEIVING VOTES: Georgia, Alabama, Creighton, South Florida, Notre Dame, Winthrop, Arkansas, Old Dominion, Texas-San Antonio, New Orleans, Oklahoma, East Carolina, Tulane, Kent St., Houston, Central Michigan, Texas Christian, Central Florida, Lamar, Southeastern Louisiana, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, Gonzaga, Santa Clara, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Southern California, Stanford, Washington, Washington St., College of Charleston, Rutgers, Western Carolina, Penn. St., Minnesota, Ohio St., North Carolina St., Wake Forest, Hawaii, Virginia Commonwealth, Louisiana Tech., Nevada, LeMoyne, Troy, Kennesaw St., Richmond, St. John's, Old Dominion, Austin Peay, Southern.
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