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Feb. 9, 2006

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Columbia, S.C. – The University of South Carolina baseball team opens the 2006 season on Friday, Feb. 10 with a three-game series against Elon at Sarge Frye Field. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. on Friday with the Saturday and Sunday games slated for 1:30 p.m. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner met with the media on Thursday afternoon to discuss this weekend’s series. Carolina is ranked as high as 14th in the nation heading into the season opener with the Phoenix.

South Carolina: Andrew Cruse, RHP, So. (3-1, 3.54 ERA)
Elon: Matt Chastain, RHP, Sr. (4-3, 4.74 ERA)

South Carolina: Arik Hempy, LHP, Jr. (2-1, 2.63 ERA)
Elon: Lance Cole, RHP, Sr. (7-3, 6.19 ERA)

South Carolina: Forrest Beverly, LHP, Jr. (1-0, 4.50 ERA)
Elon: Steven Hensley, RHP, Fr.

USC Head Baseball Coach Ray Tanner Press Conference Quotes

On the weather:

“Tomorrow looks really good and hopefully we will be able to squeeze in the weekend games as well. I know our guys are ready to play against somebody with a different color uniform on. We’ve gotten a lot of quality work in. We still have some questions but its time to play.”

On the teams readiness:

“We are pretty much ready to go. We’re banged just a little bit but nothing that should keep anybody out. Michael Campbell has missed the last two practices because he had the flu. He came in yesterday and wanted to work out but we sent him back home. He could be questionable but my guess is that he’ll be ready to go tomorrow.”

On playing other guys besides the starters:

“Wynn Pelzer certainly has some consideration for getting the ball. Andy Lambert pitched pretty well and true freshman Will Atwood had a great fall. All of those guys are guys that we want to get on the mound. I’m not one to do predetermined splits or try to get 10 guys in this weekend but we’ll probably go to the bullpen quicker than we ever have because we like our depth. We think our starters are pretty good but we know that we can put a guy out there that’s probably just as good as the guy that started. We’ll probably use more pitchers than we ever have.”

On the recovery of Shawn Valdes-Fauli:

“He’s around the 12th month of his surgery. He’s pitched very effective. He’s had 3 or 4 appearances in relief , all one inning and never pitched more than 3 outs. We plan to get him at least one appearance this weekend. It’s not likely that he’ll get more than one but we’ll try to keep him healthy and bring him along.”

On how he picked the pitching rotation:

“It was a very difficult process. I can’t remember ever having to go through this process and spend this much time picking out starters. Sometimes you wonder who the number three guy is going to be but you know who the front guys are based on their history and innings pitched before. This was tough. We felt like we had some guys that were qualified but it didn’t jump out at us. I spent a lot of time in consultation with Coach Calvi, Coach Lee and Coach Toman and then more time with Coach Calvi. We sort of went through it in a qualification almost with preseason pitching and fall pitching. I went back and looked over their last 100 innings each based on here, summer league and last year and Andrew Cruse has allowed less base runners than any other pitcher. His ERA was slightly higher than Hempy’s but his pitch count was efficient and low. So, we said these three guys have the best numbers so they get to start and that ended up being Cruse, Hempy and Beverly. Beverly has really pitched well lately. He had a good game at the end of the year. I think that in the scrimmages in the last innings that he pitched, he had 15 k’s and two walks. He’s become very efficient too and Hempy has been very, very difficult to hit. People don’t barrel him up as much. He allows more base runners but he doesn’t give up a whole lot of hits. His batting average against is less than anybody on the team.”

On whether the rotation is set for the first three series:

“It’s set for this weekend. I’m not trying to look to bump anybody but it’s close. Coach Calvi has spent a lot of time with his staff trying to make sure that it is not a big deal to these guys about who’s got the ball. We’re all going to get a chance to get out there and you have to assume your roles. The guys that do that the best are the guys that are going to pitch. These are the guys that have probably been in the program the longest. They are experienced but they are going to have to perform on a regular basis to keep getting the ball.”

On the overall pitching staff:

“I guess the consistent effectiveness of our pitchers. It seems like we go 10 or 12 deep and our hitters were having a hard time. Our pitchers were very, very good but we didn’t hit a lot. It remains to be seen what the real answer is but our pitchers have been extremely effective. They’ve been throwing strikes and we’ve played great defense but we just haven’t hit as much as I would have wanted, realizing that if we had hit a lot, then we would be questioning our pitching. That’s the way it is. You don’t get a chance to play five or six exhibition games so I think that all in all, I have to be pleased with where we are right now. If you have to be short in one front, I think you’d have to want your pitchers before your hitters right now.”

On improving the team’s hitting over last year:

“That would have to be my major concern. Not necessarily because of last year but just in general with scoring enough runs. That’s where our shortcomings were last year and that is an issue right now. Do I think we have a poor hitting team? No, I really don’t but I expected us to hit better last year than we did. We’ll see. I know that we spent a lot more time manufacturing runs in the preseason and being able to do some different things. We may change our personnel a little bit because of our ability to run, our ability to hit and run and guys that are better defensively. That’s the area that I am most concerned about is our offensive production.”