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Feb. 8, 2007

Columbia, S.C. – For the first time in school history, the South Carolina baseball team will open its season with the first six games of the year on the road. The season begins on Friday, Feb. 9 at the Hughes Brothers Challenge, a round-robin tournament hosted by UNC Wilmington. Carolina’s season opener is against Oklahoma (1-2) with first pitch set for 12 noon. The Gamecocks will face Western Kentucky on Saturday at 4 pm with the weekend finale against the host Seahawks at 2 pm. Live audio broadcast for all three games will be available at with Tommy Moody and Tom Price calling the action.


SC Harris Honeycutt (Jr.) RHP 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 IP, 0 K, 0 BB
OU Joseph Hughes (Sr.) LHP 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6.0 IP, 5 K, 1 BB

SC Jay Brown (Jr.) RHP 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 IP, 0 K, 0 BB
WKU Peter Wiggins (Sr. ) RHP 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 IP, 0 K, 0 BB

SC Mike Cisco (So.) RHP 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 IP, 0 K, 0 BB
UNCW Jeff Hatcher (Jr.) RHP 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 IP, 0 K, 0 BB

South Carolina returns six position starters back from last year’s team that reached the NCAA Super Regional and also adds a recruiting class ranked No. 1 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball and No. 2 in the nation by Baseball America. Last year’s Super Regional appearance was Carolina’s sixth in the past seven seasons, making the Gamecocks one of only three teams in the nation to achieve that feat since the 2000 season. In that span, Carolina has reached the College World Series three times (2002, 2003, 2004), won two SEC championships (2000, 2002) as well as an SEC Tournament title (2004). Carolina’s seven consecutive years reaching the NCAA Regionals is also the longest current streak among all 12 SEC schools. Over the past seven years, the Gamecocks own a 342-135 record; the fourth highest win total in Division I Baseball as well as an SEC-best 130-79 record in conference match-ups.

Two of South Carolina’s first weekend opponents competed in the postseason last year with Oklahoma reaching the NCAA Super Regional at Rice and UNC Wilmington finishing in third place at the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional.

South Carolina’s season opener vs. Oklahoma marks the first time in school history that the Gamecocks will meet the Sooners on the baseball diamond. Both schools won one of the three Super Regional games last season and were one game short of making a trip to Omaha, Neb. for the College World Series.

South Carolina is 4-6 in all-time history vs. Big 12 schools with eight of the 10 meetings at the College World Series. Carolina last faced a Big 12 school in 2002 when the Gamecocks were defeated by Texas, 12-6 in the national championship game in Omaha, Neb. Carolina also faced Nebraska at the CWS and defeated the Huskers 9-8 in an elimination game.

Nine of the 10 games vs. Big 12 schools have come in postseason action. The only regular season game previous to the Oklahoma match-up was vs. Kansas on Mar. 9, 1992 when Carolina defeated the Jayhawks 10-8 in Jacksonville, Fla.

South Carolina vs. Big 12 Schoolsvs. Baylor      1-0 vs. Kansas      1-0vs. Nebraska        1-0 vs. Oklahoma State  0-3vs. Texas       0-3 vs. Texas Tech      1-0

The meeting between South Carolina and Western Kentucky is also the first in school history between the two schools. Carolina has seen head coach Chris Finwood in the opposite dugout though, as he was a former assistant coach at Auburn University.

South Carolina leads the series history with UNC Wilmington 14-2 including a series sweep vs. the Seahawks in 2004 in Columbia. South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner and UNC Wilmington head coach Mark Scalf have worked together on the same coaching staff. Tanner was head coach for USA Baseball in 2003 for the National Team with Scalf serving as one of his assistants. That squad finished 27-2 and earned a silver medal at the Pan American Games. Scalf will serve another stint with USA Baseball this summer.

South Carolina’s 2007 schedule features 30 games against 2006 NCAA Tournament teams as well as 30 home games. Following its opening series at UNC Wilmington, Carolina will also head to a tournament at The Citadel before returning to Sarge Frye Field for the home opener on Friday, Feb. 23 against Eastern Michigan.

South Carolina and Clemson will again meet four times next season beginning with a home and home series on Mar. 3 and Mar. 4. The first game is scheduled at Clemson with the return game in Columbia. Both teams will also meet twice in April with Carolina traveling on April 11th and hosting the final game of the series on April 18. Other in-state contests for the Gamecocks include a home and home with The Citadel (Feb. 18, May 9), at College of Charleston (Mar. 6), vs. Furman (April 4) and two games with Wofford (Mar. 21, April 17).

This year’s 30-game SEC schedule begins on Friday, Mar. 16 with South Carolina hosting LSU in a three-game series. The Gamecocks will also host Vanderbilt, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia. SEC road contests include Mississippi State, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Tennessee. The Saturday, Mar. 31 home game between South Carolina and Vanderbilt will be televised on SEC-TV as well as the regular season finale at home between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs on Saturday, May 19.

The SEC Tournament is scheduled for May 23-27 in Hoover, Ala. with the NCAA Regionals and NCAA Super Regionals the following two weeks. The College World Series in Omaha, Neb. is slated from June 15-25.

The Gamecocks are a big hit in Columbia and throughout the Palmetto State with Carolina having already sold 3,596 season tickets this season. General admission tickets for most games are still available at the Carolina ticket office and on-line at

South Carolina has been ranked by the college baseball publications. Collegiate Baseball has tabbed the Gamecocks at No. 3 with Baseball America selecting the Gamecocks No. 6 in the nation. The USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll has Carolina at No. 4.

College baseball websites have also weighed in on the Gamecocks with putting the Gamecocks at No.1 and listing Carolina at No. 3. The NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association) also has Carolina at No. 3 in the country.

USC head coach Ray Tanner begins his 11th season at helm of the Carolina baseball program and his 20th overall. Since his first year at South Carolina in 1997, head baseball coach Ray Tanner has compiled a 454-200 record, winning over 69 percent of baseball games USC has played. Coach Tanner owns an overall record of 849-373-3 (.694) with 15 appearances in the NCAA Tournament as a head coach at NC State and South Carolina.

The Gamecocks recorded a seventh consecutive 40-plus win season in 2006 and earned a trip to the postseason and won the NCAA Charlottesville Regional before falling one win shy of a trip to Omaha and the College World Series by winning the first game of the NCAA Super Regional in Athens. In 2005, he became the fourth fastest active coach to reach the 800-win plateau. Tanner has averaged over 42 wins a season and is currently the eighth winningest active coach in Division I college baseball.

South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner has announced the captains for the 2007 season as voted on by their teammates. Junior outfielder Steven Reinhold, sophomore infielder Reese Havens, junior left-handed pitcher Arik Hempy and junior right-handed pitcher Harris Honeycutt will serve as captains for this year’s baseball team.

Carolina has a near perfect record over the last seven seasons in the month of February. Dating back to the 2000 season, Carolina is 67-2 (.971) in games played in the month of February. The two losses came against Charleston Southern in 2003 and vs. Elon in 2006.

After a successful freshman campaign, Justin Smoak is back for his second season at first base for the Gamecocks. Smoak was one of the most decorated newcomers in the country last year after batting .303 with 17 HR and 63 RBI. He earned freshman All-America honors from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball and had a successful summer in the Cape Cod League, where he earned league MVP honors. Following his summer, Smoak was listed as the top prospect out of the Cape by Baseball America. He is a preseason All-America selection by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and

Junior right-handed pitcher Harris Honeycutt enters the 2007 season fresh off a successful sophomore season that saw him finish with a 7-0 record and 3.33 ERA. Two of his seven wins came in postseason with a victory at the NCAA Regional over Virginia and a win at Georgia in the NCAA Super Regional. Honeycutt won the Most Outstanding Pitcher award for the Gamecocks at this past fall’s banquet.

Junior right-handed pitcher Jay Brown is expected to make an instant impact on the Gamecock pitching staff after transferring in from Young Harris College in Georgia. Brown has been named by Patrick Ebert of Perfect Game Baseball as one of the 12 impact sleepers in college baseball for the 2007 season.

“Brown made quite a name for himself, pitching extremely well on the Cape Cod League last summer, and has transferred from Young Harris College to South Carolina for his junior year of eligibility,” said Ebert. “For the Gamecocks to live up to their lofty preseason expectations, Brown is going to have to be big this spring, particularly since South Carolina will be without their projected Friday starter, Arik Hempy, until March or April. Brown has the size, stuff and composure to do just that, as many expect him to get only better, and South Carolina is among the best at identifying and acquiring transfer talent. With a big junior year, Brown may just follow in the footsteps of another Young Harris alum, Nick Markakis, as a first-round pick if he shoots up follow lists this spring.”

USC has had recent success enter the program from Young Harris with Billy Buckner providing an impact in the 2004 season before being drafted in the second round by the Kansas City Royals.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Mike Cisco was one of the top first year pitchers in the nation last year after logging 88.2 innings and posting a 7-5 record. Cisco was an SEC All-Freshman team selection and was named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament team after his complete game win against Evansville.

Junior left-handed pitcher Arik Hempy is shooting to return in the month of March to the mound after undergoing Tommy John surgery last April. Hempy had made seven starts and was 2-1 with a 2.65 ERA with 47 strikeouts in 34 innings before going down with the injury to his arm on March 31 at LSU. Hempy received a medical redshirt following the year due to the injury.

South Carolina had one of the top home run teams in the nation last year with 92 roundtrippers and a ranking of sixth in the nation for home runs per game. The Gamecocks return most of the power from last year’s lineup with 72 of the 92 home runs back for this season. South Carolina batted .305 as a team last year as well.

South Carolina finished last season with the best defensive club in school history with a fielding percentage of .978 and only 54 errors in 66 games played. Last season the Gamecocks had 32 error-less games in the field including an incredible run of 13 straight games in the month of April without and error.

This year’s senior class for the Gamecocks features seven players. Position players in their final season include All-SEC designated hitter Robbie Grinestaff, outfielder Cheyne Hurst, outfielder Jon Willard, first baseman Drew Martin. The pitchers are left-hander Forrest Beverly, and right-handers Jeff Jeffords and Conor Lalor.

Along with Smoak and Cisco, the Gamecocks return several sophomores that made an impact in their first seasons wearing the Garnet and Black. Versatility is the name of the game for James Darnell and Andrew Crisp, who both started last year in the infield and the outfield. Darnell is expected to get the nod at third base after a summer in the Cape Cod League and a good fall back on campus. Crisp, a Freshman All-America selection last year, is expected to see playing time in either the infield or the outfield after batting .328 in the 2006 season. Also back on the mound is left-hander Will Atwood, who earned a 4-2 record.

For the third time in four years, the Gamecocks have put together the top rated recruiting class in the country. Carolina was ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball in the fall of 2005 and was also ranked No. 2 by Baseball America. Collegiate Baseball also ranked the Gamecocks’ recruiting class No. 1 in the nation in 2003 and 2005.

Three South Carolina Gamecock players have been projected as top freshmen in the nation based on impact and long-term potential by Baseball America. The publication lists Lonnie Chisenhall as the top freshman player in the country with right-handed pitcher Nick Fuller rated fourth best and freshman right-handed pitcher Sam Dyson at No. 37. Dyson is out for the season following surgery on his right labrum and rotator cuff.

South Carolina’s 2007 roster features 16 players that have previously been drafted by Major League Baseball teams.

The South Carolina baseball team has been predicted to win the 2007 SEC baseball championship, as voted by the league’s 12 baseball coaches in the annual preseason conference poll.

South Carolina last won the SEC regular season crown in 2002 with a 21-8 conference record and also took home the league championship in 2000 with a 25-5 mark. The 2004 squad won an SEC Tournament championship. USC also won Eastern Division titles in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003. Points for this year’s poll were complied on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.

EASTERN DIVISION            WESTERN DIVISION1.  South Carolina (9) - 63     1.  Arkansas (11) - 662.  Vanderbilt (3) - 54         2.  Ole Miss (1) - 533.  Tennessee - 39          3.  Alabama - 474.  Kentucky - 31           4.  LSU - 335.  Georgia - 30                5.  Auburn - 246.  Florida - 29                6.  Mississippi State - 23
() - First Place Votes
SEC CHAMPION: South Carolina (7); Arkansas (3); Vanderbilt (2)

In its preseason publication, Baseball America decided to rank all college baseball programs since the 1999 season, which coincided with the implementation of the 64-team field for the NCAA tournament and with the change in rules governing the performance of aluminum bats. The rankings are a quantitative analysis of the top college programs to find out who comes out on top over the last eight seasons. South Carolina finished among the top 10 teams in the nation with a ranking of No. 9.

BASEBALL AMERICA'S TOP 10 PROGRAMS SINCE 19991.  Texas           6.  LSU2.  Miami (Fla.)            7.  Florida State3.  Stanford            8.  Clemson4.  Cal State Fullerton     9.  South Carolina5.  Rice                10.  Southern California

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