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Dec. 23, 2005

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina baseball team has been ranked 17th in the 2006 Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll released on Friday afternoon. The Gamecocks will open the season on February 10 hosting Elon in a three-game series at Sarge Frye Field.

USC returns five position starters from last year’s team, all of who are seniors that reached the championship game of the 2005 NCAA Atlanta Regional. Neil Giesler and Chris Brown return to the infield with Michael Campbell and Mark Stanley anchoring the outfield. Also back is senior catcher Ian Paxton. Campbell enters the season the most experienced division I baseball player in the country as he has played 200 games over the last three years. Included in those 200 games played are 193 starts in the outfield. USC also enters the new season with the top rated recruiting class in the country as ranked by Collegiate Baseball in September.

Carolina is one of eight SEC teams to be ranked by Collegiate Baseball. Florida ranks second, LSU ranks 15th, Tennessee is 19th, Ole Miss is 20th, and Arkansas enters 33rd with Mississippi State 34th and Georgia rounding the group out at 39th.

The 2006 schedule features 56 games including 30 against teams that advanced to the NCAA Regionals last year. SEBaseball.Com recently ranked Carolina’s schedule the sixth toughest in the nation.

South Carolina heads into the 2006 season fresh off its sixth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance. Over the last six years, Carolina owns the third highest win total in NCAA Division I baseball with a 301-110 record. The Gamecocks have made three trips to the College World Series (2002, 2003, 2004), reached five NCAA Super Regionals (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004), captured three SEC Eastern Division titles (2000, 2002, 2003), won two SEC regular season championships (2000, 2002) and earned one SEC Tournament title (2004).

USC head coach Ray Tanner is in his 10th season at South Carolina. Since coming to South Carolina in 1997, head baseball coach Ray Tanner has compiled a 413-175 record, winning over 70 percent of baseball games USC has played. Coach Tanner will enter his 19th year of coaching and owns an overall record of 808-348-3 with 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach at NC State and South Carolina. He has averaged over 44 wins a season and is currently the eighth winningiest active coach in Division I college baseball.

Collegiate Baseball Newspaper'sNCAA Div. I Pre-Season Poll(As of Dec. 23, 2005)Rank School ('05 Final Record)1. Texas (56-16)2. Florida (48-23)3. Oregon St. (46-12)4. Nebraska (57-15)5. Rice (45-19)6. Clemson (43-23)7. North Carolina (41-19-1)8. Florida St. (53-20)9. Cal. St. Fullerton (46-18)10. Georgia Tech. (45-19)
11. Miami, Fla. (41-19-1)12. Arizona St. (42-25)13. Pepperdine (41-23)14. Missouri (40-23)15. Louisiana St. (40-22)16. Long Beach St. (37-22)17. South Carolina (41-23)18. Florida Atlantic (37-24)19. Tennessee (46-21)20. Mississippi (48-20)
21. Southern California (41-22)22. Notre Dame (38-24-1)23. Baylor (46-24)24. Tulane (56-12)25. Stanford (34-25)26. Wichita St. (51-24)27. Texas Christian (41-20)28. Winthrop (44-22)29. Oklahoma (35-26)30. Southern Miss. (41-21)
31. Arizona (39-21)32. Houston (29-30)33. Arkansas (39-22)34. Mississippi St. (42-22)35. San Francisco (38-18)36. San Diego (30-27-1)37. Stetson (35-28)38. Washington (33-22)39. Georgia (30-25)40. Fresno St. (30-29)

Other Teams Receiving Votes: Cal Poly SLO, Vanderbilt, Alabama, Auburn, California, UCLA, Ohio St., North Carolina St., Coastal Carolina, Louisville, U.C. Irvine, Virginia Commonwealth, Miami (Ohio), Oral Roberts, Central Florida, East Carolina, Central Michigan, Southern Illinois, Nevada-Las Vegas, San Diego St., Maine, Birmingham Southern, Jacksonville St., South Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, Troy, Florida International, Loyola Marymount, Army, College of Charleston, Georgia Southern, N.C. Charlotte, Richmond, Western Carolina, Northwestern St., Lamar, Southern.

***This release can be viewed on “Collegiate Baseball” newspaper’s web site: