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Jan. 24, 2012

Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina is ranked No. 3 in the nation in the 2012 Baseball America Preseason Top 25 as announced on Tuesday morning. The Gamecocks open the 2012 season on Friday, Feb. 17 hosting a three-game series with VMI at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina is the back-to-back defending national champion in NCAA Division I Baseball after winning consecutive titles at the 2010 and 2011 College World Series.

The Southeastern Conference, which produced three of the final four teams standing in Omaha last year and has won the last three national titles, looks strong again heading into 2012. The SEC accounts for three of the top four teams and six of the top 11 in the 2012 preseason rankings. The SEC leads all conferences with seven teams in the Top 25.

Rk. Team        `11Rec. `11 Rk1.  Florida     53-19   22.  Stanford    35-22   133.  South Carolina  55-14   14.  Arkansas    40-22   245.  Arizona     39-21   NR6.  Rice        42-21   157.  Texas A&M   47-22   78.  LSU     36-20   NR9.  North Carolina  51-16   510.     Vanderbilt  54-12   411.     Georgia     33-22   NR12.     Georgia Tech    42-21   2013.     Texas       49-19   614.     UCLA        35-24   2215.     TCU     43-19   1916.     Clemson     43-20   2117.     Arizona State   43-18   918.     Miami       38-23   1719.     Oklahoma    41-19   NR20.     Florida State   46-19   821.     UCF     39-23   NR22.     Mississippi     30-25   NR23.     Oregon State    41-19   1024.     Louisville  32-29   NR25.     Cal St. Fullerton 41-17 14

Carolina returns several letterwinners from last year’s national championship squad including 2011 All-Americans Matt Price (RHP), Michael Roth (LHP) and Christian Walker (1B). Roth, a consensus All-American and’s National Player of the Year in 2011, went 14-3 last year while posting a 1.06 ERA in 145.0 innings of work. Price was also a consensus All-American in 2011 and a finalist for the 2011 NCBWA Stopper of the Year award. He earned first-team All-SEC honors and was on the College World Series All-Tournament Team. One of the nation’s top closers in 2011, Price went 7-3 with a 1.83 ERA along with 20 saves in 59.0 innings pitched. A first-team All-SEC selection, opponents hit just .213 against him as he compiled 75 strikeouts. Price is looking to begin the 2012 season in the weekend rotation. Walker earned third-team All-America honors last year from Baseball America. He was the team’s leading hitter in the 2011 season with a .358 average (97-for-271) along with 21 doubles, a triple, 10 homers and 62 RBI. A second-team All-SEC selection, Walker would go on to earn College World Series All-Tournament Team honors after playing the entire CWS Championship Series with a broken hamate bone in his left wrist.

Other returning starters with experience include senior outfielders Adam Matthews (.264-2-14) and Jake Williams (.268-2-38) along with junior outfielder Evan Marzilli (.291-3-31). Back in the mix on the mound are junior right-hander Colby Holmes (7-3, 3.69 ERA) and sophomore right-hander Forrest Koumas (6-1, 2.96 ERA).

South Carolina also ranked No. 2 in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Top 40 that was released in December.