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Feb. 8, 2008

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina junior first baseman Justin Smoak and junior third baseman James Darnell each were honored by Baseball America and earned preseason All-America honors as announced by the publication on Friday. Smoak was a first team All-America selection with Darnell named to the third team. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 12 in the nation by Baseball America in the Preseason Top 25 and will begin the season on Feb. 22 hosting 24th ranked East Carolina in a three-game series at Sarge Frye Field.

Smoak was a third team All-America selection by Baseball America last year after batting .315 with 22 HR and 72 RBI for the Gamecocks. He has 39 home runs in two seasons for Carolina and is just eight shy of the school record of 48 set by Hank Small (1972-73-74-75). He played this past summer on the USA Baseball National Team.

Darnell earned second team All-SEC honors at third base last year and was the team’s leading hitter with a .331 average with 19 HR and 63 RBI. Darnell also earned All-Star accolades this summer in his second season in the prestigious Cape Cod Summer League, where he was among the leaders in home runs with eight round trippers. The eight homers this summer tied him for second in the CCBL.

Both players are also listed among the top 30 college prospects for the 2008 MLB Draft as compiled by Baseball America through discussions with scouts. Smoak is listed as the No. 3 top college prospect in the nation with Darnell coming in at No. 25 on the list.

South Carolina is one of only two schools in the nation to reach the NCAA Super Regionals in seven of the last eight years (2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007). Since the 2000 season, the Gamecocks are the only SEC squad to reach the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament each year and have compiled eight consecutive 40-plus win seasons. The Gamecocks have also put together a 388-155 record in that span, the fourth highest win total in Division I baseball as well as an SEC-best 147-92 in conference match-ups. That list also includes three trips to the College World Series (2002, 2003, 2004), two SEC Championships (2000, 2002) and one SEC Tournament title (2004).