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Jan. 18, 2006

Columbia, S.C. – The 2006 South Carolina baseball team begins its first official team practice on Thursday, Jan. 19 at Sarge Frye Field. Coach Ray Tanner begins his 10th season at South Carolina with a balanced roster of veterans and newcomers that he believes can propel the Gamecocks to a seventh consecutive trip to the NCAA baseball tournament and possibly a fourth trip in five years to the College World Series.

“I like our personnel,” Tanner said shortly after completion of fall workouts. “I don’t think that we have awesome talent but we have very good talent.”

That talent includes five position players who started approximately half the games of last year’s 41-23 season, three others who saw considerable playing time and returning pitchers who compiled a composite 13-4 record with a 4.01 earned run average in 211 innings. Add a recruiting class ranked number one in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and fourth best by Baseball America. Tanner must replace eight position players though, who combined for 45 home runs and a .277 average plus five pitchers, who combined for 68 percent (28-19) of last year’s 41 victories.


USC opens the year on Friday, Feb. 10 hosting Elon in a three-game series at Sarge Frye Field. First pitch on opening day is set for 3 p.m. with the Saturday and Sunday contests slated for a 1:30 p.m. start.

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).

The 2006 schedule for South Carolina features 56 regular season games with 30 against teams that reached the 2005 NCAA Baseball Tournament. The slate includes 36 home contests at Sarge Frye Field. SEBaseball.Com rated Carolina’s schedule the sixth toughest in the nation. The longest homestand of the season for Carolina is at the beginning of the schedule as the Gamecocks host their first 10 contests and 16 of their first 17 games. USC’s longest road stretch will be at the beginning of May with five straight away from Columbia.

South Carolina has been ranked by the baseball publications in the preseason collegiate baseball polls. Baseball America has tabbed Carolina at No. 14 with Collegiate Baseball selecting the Gamecocks No. 17 in the country.

USC head coach Ray Tanner begins his 10th season at helm of the Carolina baseball program and his 19th overall. Since his first year at 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 owns an overall record of 808-348-3 (.698) with 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach at NC State and South Carolina. In 2006, he became the fourth fastest active coach to reach the 800 win plateau. Tanner has averaged over 44 wins a season and is currently the eighth winningiest active coach in Division I college baseball.

For the second time in three years, the Gamecocks have put together the top rated recruting class in the country. Carolina was ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball in the Fall of 2005 and tied for No. 1 back in the fall of 2003.

South Carolina’s 2006 roster features 15 players that have previously been drafted by Major League Baseball teams.

Forrest Beverly (Jr. LHP)
– 2002; Chicago Cubs; 17th Round
– 2005; Arizona Diamondbacks; 42nd Round

Chris Brown (Sr. INF)
– 2002; Minnesota Twins; 41st Round

Adam Crisp (So. OF)
– 2004; Baltimore Orioles; 38th Round

Andrew Crisp (So. INF)
– 2004; Baltimore Orioles; 35th Round

Neil Giesler (Sr. INF)
– 2002; Chicago White Sox; 29th Round
– 2003; Chicago White Sox; 37th Round

Robbie Grinestaff (Jr. INF/OF)
– 2004; Chicago White Sox; 37th Round

Reese Havens (Fr. INF)
– 2005; Colorado Rockies; 29th Round

Arik Hempy (Jr. LHP)
-2005; Baltimore Orioles; 31st Round

Jeff Jeffords (Jr. RHP)
– 2004; Baltimore Orioles; 32nd Round

Trent Kline (So. C)
– 2003; Montreal Expos; 39th Round

Conor Lalor (Jr. RHP)
– 2002; Arizona Diamondbacks; 44th Round

Jon Lieber (Jr. 1B)
– 2004; New York Yankees; 34th Round

Steven Reinhold (Jr. OF)
– 2003; Cleveland Indians; 13th Round

Justin Smoak (Fr. 1B)
– 2005; Oakland A’s; 16th Round

Brandon Todd (Jr. RHP)
– 2004; Houston Astros; 38th Round

South Carolina returns five position starters from last season including senior outfielder Michael Campbell, who is the most experienced player in Division I baseball. Heading into the year, Campbell has played 200 college baseball games with 193 consecutive starts.

Campbell is the leading returner for Carolina in several offensive categories including batting average (.315), games played (64), at-bats (251), runs (56), hits (79), doubles (16), triples (5), home runs (8), runs batted in (42), slugging percentage (.514), hit by pitch (10) and stolen bases (8).

The senior from Winchester, Va. also is closing in on several USC career records. Among the records are games played, at-bats, hits, and triples.

Games Played1.  251 Landon Powell    2001-02-03-042.  236 Mac White   1991-92-93-943.  223 Jeff Parnell    1990-91-92-934.  221 Trey Dyson  1999-00-01-025.  217 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-986.  209 Drew Meyer  2000-01-026.  209 Garrett Carter  1985-86-87-888.  208 Chris Boyle 1981-82-83-849.  204 Ryan Szwejbka   1993-94-95-96-9710. 202 Dave Willman    1998-90-91-9211. 201 Stacy Stokes    1991-92-93-9411. 201 Burke Cromer    1989-90-91-9213. 200 Michael Campbell  2003-04-05
At Bats1. 903 Mac White 1991-92-93-942. 866 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-043. 864 Drew Meyer 2000-01-024. 799 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-985. 766 Chris Boyle 1981-82-83-846. 750 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-937. 741 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05
Hits (200 or more)1. 303 Mac White 1991-92-93-942. 285 Drew Meyer 2000-01-023. 265 Landon Powell 2001-02-03-044. 265 Derick Urquhart 1995-96-97-985. 250 Mike Curry 1996-97-986. 245 Hank Small 1972-73-74-757. 231 Dave Willman 1989-90-91-928. 230 Skeets Thomas 1988-89-909. 227 Jeff Barns 1985-86-8710. 225 Jeff Parnell 1990-91-92-9311. 224 Chris Boyle 1981-82-83-8412. 223 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05
Three Base Hits1. 12 Mac White 1991-92-93-941. 12 Bill Harley 1930-31-323. 11 Mike Curry 1996-97-984. 10 Michael Campbell 2003-04-05

Also back in the outfield for Carolina is senior Mark Stanley. Despite suffering a season-ending injury at Tennessee in early May, Stanley was able to finish the year batting .311 with an on-base percentage of .417. The infield features a pair of returning players in third baseman Neil Giesler and second baseman Chris Brown. Giesler came on strong in the second half of the season earning All-Tournament honors at both the SEC Tournament and NCAA Regional in Atlanta. Brown proved to be a steady provider for Carolina playing in 59 games and batting .274 with an on-base percentage of .363. Another senior returning is catcher Ian Paxton, who provided solid defense in 47 games behind the plate with a .979 fielding percentage.

South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner has announced the captains for the 2006 season as voted on by their teammates and coaching staff. Senior infielder Chris Brown, senior outfielder Michael Campbell, senior catcher Ian Paxton and senior outfielder Mark Stanley will serve as captains for this year’s baseball team.