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Jan. 10, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina baseball team has been projected to win the SEC championship by college baseball website In addition, five Gamecock players were selected All-SEC including first team members third baseman Steve Pearce and shortstop Steven Tolleson. Outfielders Michael Campbell and Brendan Winn and right-handed pitcher Aaron Rawl were named to the second team.

Under the direction of head coach Ray Tanner, the Gamecocks enter the 2005 season fresh off a 53-17 campaign last year that earned USC its third straight trip to the College World Series. South Carolina returns five position starters from last year’s team with each having batted over .300 last year.

All-American candidate Steve Pearce was last year’s triple crown winner for the Gamecocks leading the team with a .346 batting average, 21 HR and 70 RBI. Pearce was named to the College World Series All-Tournament Team and was the 2004 Columbia Regional MVP following USC’s wins over The Citadel and North Carolina. Pearce had two home runs and four RBI in the first win over the Tar Heels and then went 3-for-4 with another homer as South Carolina clinched its fifth consecutive regional championship. Now in his senior season, Pearce will move from first base to third base for South Carolina this season.

Also returning to the infield is junior shortstop Steven Tolleson, who finished the year with a .316 average as well as four HR and 25 RBI. Tolleson was co-MVP last season at the SEC Tournament in which Carolina earned its first SEC Tournament Title. The junior from Spartanburg, S.C. also provided several clutch hits throughout the year including a two-run game-winning double vs. East Carolina in the NCAA Super Regional. Brendan Winn returns to right field after starting all 70 games and was a second team All-SEC selection as a junior batting .305 with 19 HR and 69 RBI. Junior Michael Campbell also started all 70 games putting together a .314 batting average as well as 14 HR and 52 RBI.

Carolina also brings back a deep returning pitching staff with senior right-handed pitcher Aaron Rawl leading the way. Rawl was a NCBWA All-American selection last year and led the Gamecocks in wins with a 13-4 record on the mound in 122 innings pitched, second highest on the 2004 squad.

South Carolina begins the season on Friday, Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. when the Gamecocks host Longwood University at Sarge Frye Field. The Gamecocks schedule also features 29 games vs. teams that reached the postseason in the NCAA Regional last year. Carolina will open the SEC season on Friday, Mar. 18 at 7 p.m. when the Gamecocks host 2004 CWS participant Arkansas at Sarge Frye Field.

Over the last five seasons South Carolina has won more games than any other Division I baseball team in the nation with 260 victories. South Carolina has made three consecutive trips to the College World Series (2002, 2003, 2004), won two SEC championships (2000, 2002) and earned a SEC Tournament title (2004).

SEC Predicted Finish
East1. South Carolina2. Georgia3. Vanderbilt4. Florida5. Tennessee6. Kentucky
West1. LSU2. Ole Miss3. Arkansas4. Mississippi State5. Alabama6. Auburn
Projected overall champion: South Carolina
All-SEC - First Team1B Josh Morris, Georgia2B Warner Jones, Vanderbilt3B Steve Pearce, South CarolinaSS Steven Tolleson, South CarolinaC Matt Liuzza, LSUOF Brad Corley, Mississippi StateOF Ryan Patterson, LSUOF Clete Thomas, AuburnDH Alex Suarez, TennesseeUT Stephen Head, Ole MissSP Wade LeBlanc, AlabamaSP Mark Holliman, Ole MissSP Luke Hochevar, TennesseeSP Ryan Mullins, VanderbiltRP Will Startup, Georgia
Player of the Year: Stephen Head, Ole MissPitcher of the Year: Wade LeBlanc, AlabamaNewcomer of the Year: Alan Horne, Florida
All-SEC - Second Team1B Danny Hamblin, Arkansas2B Adam Davis, Florida3B Evan Bush, AlabamaSS Josh Smith, GeorgiaC Barry Gunther, Ole MissOF Brendan Winn, South CarolinaOF Michael Campbell, South CarolinaOF Eli Iorg, TennesseeDH Matt LaPorta, FloridaUT Brandon Belcher, AlabamaSP Charley Boyce, ArkansasSP Lane Mestepey, LSUSP Aaron Rawl, South CarolinaSP Connor Falkenbach, FloridaRP Darren O'Day, Florida
All-SEC - Third Team1B Karl Amonite, Auburn2B Allen Rice, Alabama3B Chris Coghlan, Ole MissSS Scott Hode, ArkansasC Kody Valverde, AlabamaOF Alex Presley, Ole MissOF Jeff Corsaletti, FloridaOF Billy Grace, KentuckyDH Nick Stavinoha, LSUUT Brian Pettway, Ole MissSP Kalen Gibson, KentuckySP Sean Ruthven, GeorgiaSP Michael Hyle, GeorgiaSP Arnold Hughey, AuburnRP Saunders Ramsey, Miss State