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Jan. 19, 2005

Columbia, S.C. –

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The South Carolina baseball team opened up practice on Wednesday afternoon at Sarge Frye Field with the 2005 season less than a month away. Carolina opens the year on Friday, Feb. 11 when the Gamecocks host Longwood University with first pitch set for 3 p.m. USC begins the season ranked No. 7 in the Baseball America and Sports Weekly/ESPN polls. Carolina is also ranked eighth by Collegiate Baseball.

Listed below are some comments from head coach Ray Tanner and players on the upcoming season.

Opening Comments:
“It’s our spring training for college baseball and we do it a little bit during the winter. It is real exciting. I have been doing it quiet a while and sometimes the night before I can’t sleep, but I am real excited and I know our guys are real excited too so its going to be fun.”

About feeling like a kid when starting spring training:
“It really does make me feel like a little kid again. A lot of people have said in professional baseball that if you are coaching or playing, you still have to have a lot of little boy in you to enjoy it and that is the way you usually feel on days like today.”

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On team that is coming back:
“I think that there are enough veterans here that if they have a pretty good year, we can certainly be in the mix at the end of the year. You know the key is to win the right games at the right time. We struggled in the middle of the season last year, but won games down the stretch. There are enough older people here to make that happen and there is no question that Steve Pearce coming back for his senior year is really big for us. He had a big year last year, he makes the hitters behind him and in front of him better and I think says a lot about the person he is and what he means to this program. I am real excited and ready to get this going. I think we can be competitive.”

On losing guys last year that were the back bone of the team:
“You always miss those guys. It is one of those situations where I do not dwell on the past. We lost some great players and we have some players who have to step up. Our veteran players have to be good players and we have some newcomers who are going to have to step up. So if everything falls into place you have a chance to play at the end of the year.”

On replacing Landon Powell:
“It’s a lot like replacing David Greene at Georgia. He has taken so many snaps over the years. We haven’t been able to develop some guys that were in the program. We were not able to recruit well at that position while he was here because you look at it and say Landon Powell is going to be there every inning and so that made it pretty hard. We have some guys in the program though. Paxton did a good job during the fall. We have Vanderhook, Phil Disher and Mahoney seems to be getting healthy. I think we are capable, but Landon Powell was a first round draft pick so it is going to be difficult to replace. Trying to make up for Kevin Mellilo, Brian Triplett is difficult and the list just keeps on going. We lost two quality pitchers in Matt Campbell and Billy Buckner. Both were first and second round draft choices so you know it is going to be tough, but we have to move forward.”

Steve Pearce Quotes From Baseball Media Day:

On returning to Omaha for the College World Series:
“I think it is great for our guys. We have some veterans and some new guys on this team and we are real excited about the opportunity. We feel like we have the guys to get back. That is certainly our goal and that is what we will start working towards today.”

About being a key to the team’s success:
“I think Landon Powell had that same role, but I am just going to count on the guys around me to help me out and in return do the best that I can for this team.”

On deciding to come back:
“Last year I don’t think I did as well as I should and I still feel that I have a lot to prove here. I am going to go to third base and try to up my status and I just felt in my heart that this is where I wanted to be for another year. Having another opportunity to win a national championship was a big reason for coming back also.”

Brendan Winn Quotes From Baseball Media Day:

On day one being back on the baseball field:
“I can’t wait. Its cold right now but that doesn’t matter. We are ready to go. We have been waiting a long time for this and fire is lit so we are definitely ready to get going.”

On the biggest challenge for this team:
“It is definitely living up to the hype. I think that if we keep everybody healthy we have a legitimate shot at getting back to Omaha. Like I was saying, we are ready to get going.”

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).