Feb. 12, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 123rd season of South Carolina baseball begins on Friday as the Gamecocks host College of Charleston for a three-game series. First pitch on Opening Day is 4 p.m. at Carolina Stadium with Saturday’s game at 1 p.m. and Sunday’s series finale at 2 p.m.
Radio: Andy Demetra, Tommy Moody and Brock Bowling will call the action. Friday and Sunday’s game on the Gamecock Radio Network affiliates/Flagship WNKT FM 107.5 “The Game” in Columbia. Please note, Saturday’s game will be on 1320 AM in Columbia due to conflict with men’s basketball at Kentucky.
Broadcast: SEC Network + (Derek Scott and Trey Dyson). Check cable or satellite provider for streaming availability.
Internet: Live Gametracker stats at GamecocksOnline.com. Additional coverage on Twitter @GamecockBasebll
All three games will be broadcast on SEC Network+. The game will be available through participating TV providers only through WatchESPN. For more information on SEC Network+, please click HERE
South Carolina vs. College of Charleston
Friday, Feb. 13 (4 p.m.); Saturday, Feb. 14 (1 p.m.); Sunday, Feb. 15 (2 p.m.)
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PROBABLE PITCHING ROTATION
Friday (2014 Stats)
South Carolina – Jack Wynkoop (Jr. LHP) 7-6, 2.86 ERA, 88.0 IP, 10 BB, 58 SO
College of Charleston – Taylor Clarke (Jr. RHP) 10-4, 2.51 ERA, 104.0 IP, 31 BB, 92 SO
Saturday (2014 Stats)
South Carolina – Wil Crowe (So. RHP) 8-3, 2.75 ERA, 91.2 IP, 19 BB, 59 SO
College of Charleston – Nathan Helvey (Jr. RHP) 3-4, 3.78 ERA, 69.0 IP, 19 BB, 54 SO
Sunday (2014 Stats)
South Carolina – Josh Reagan (So. LHP) 3-0, 0.36 ERA, 25.1 IP, 4 BB, 21 SO
College of Charleston – Eric Bauer (Jr. LHP) 6-2, 2.09 ERA, 51.2 IP, 8 BB, 27 SO
South Carolina leads 48-6
3/25/2014 – SC defeated CofC 4-2 in Columbia
Please be aware on game day entrance via car to Williams, Catawba and Wheat Streets will be closed to the public and is accessible only by a valid parking pass.
For Opening Day on Feb. 13 and for the weekday games beginning at 4:00 PM (Feb.17; Feb. 20 and Feb 24) parking in the business lots will be curtailed based on the specific parking lots. Patrons with passes to park in lots 6, 7, 9 and 10 will be relocated to Lot 1 on Williams and Wheat Sts.
We encourage visitors to use public parking lots illustrated on the parking map. The cost is $5/$10 per vehicle. Fans can also park for free at Capital City Baseball Stadium and the Colonial Life area and ride the shuttles for $3.00 round trip to and from the parking lots. We strongly recommend that fans use the Capital City Shuttle over the CLA shuttle for the convenience, spacious parking and less congestion.
Visitors who need handicap parking should park at the Capital City Baseball Stadium lot and ride the handicapped shuttle to the baseball stadium for $3.00
Please see link for additional information.
For the 2015 baseball season, the baseball shuttle is expanding and will be operational at the Capital City Baseball Stadium and in Lot D of the Colonial Life Area parking lot. We strongly recommend that fans use the baseball shuttle from Capital City to Carolina Baseball Stadium over the CLA shuttle for the convenience, spacious parking (800 spaces) and less congestion than at the arena. Please remember that at the arena shuttle, parking will be limited to 50 to 100 spaces because of the student demand for parking in this area. There is a high student demand Monday through Thursday that lasts until 7 p.m. because of classes. For GPS purposes, the address for Capital City Stadium is 301 S. Assembly St., Columbia, SC 29201.
OPENING DAY FESTIVITIES Former South Carolina left-handed pitcher Michael Roth will throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Opening Day at Carolina Stadium. The Gamecocks begin the 2015 season on Friday at 4 p.m. hosting College of Charleston in the first of a three-game series.
Roth pitched on back-to-back national championship teams in 2010 and 2011 and won 26 career games as a member of the Garnet & Black and made 94 appearances on the mound, third-highest in school history.
Roth put together one of the most prolific single seasons in school history as he put together an impressive 14-3 record in 2011 with a miniscule 1.06 ERA in 21 games with 112 strikeouts in 145 innings pitched. His 14th win of the season took place in Omaha at T.D. Ameritrade Park, as Roth went 7 2/3 innings to help the Gamecocks clinch a second consecutive national title in a 5-2 victory over Florida.
Roth’s career postseason record was 8-0 with a 1.33 ERA in 95.0 innings pitched. His postseason ERA of 1.49 is the fifth lowest among all pitchers in College World Series history. He concluded his career with four CWS victories, one shy of the record five set by his teammate, Matt Price. He made eight career CWS starts; a record three starts in the Championship Finals and hurled a CWS record 60.1 innings pitched. He was s CWS All-Tournament Team recipient in 2011 and 2012.
Roth excelled in the classroom as well as he won the 2012 SEC H. Boyd McWhorter Male-Scholar Athlete of the Year award, the highest male student-athlete honor in the conference and received from Dr. Harris Pastides the 2012 President’s Award, the most prestigious honor given to a South Carolina student-athlete. He was a first-team Academic All-America in 2011 and 2012.
Roth made his major league debut in April 13, 2013 with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He is now a member of the Cleveland Indians organization.
DID YOU KNOW??
Junior left-hander Jack Wynkoop has made 27 starts in his career with the Gamecocks. That is the second-highest total among current SEC pitchers.
South Carolina is ranked in every preseason publication. The Gamecocks are No. 5 by D1Baseball, No. 10 USA TODAY coaches poll, No. 11 by the NCBWA, No. 13 by Baseball America, No. 14 by Perfect Game and No. 21 by Collegiate Baseball.
College of Charleston enters the weekend ranked No. 25 by Collegiate Baseball.
South Carolina is 84-38 on Opening Day in school history. The Gamecocks have won 16 straight Opening Day contests.
Senior first baseman Kyle Martin elected to return for his final season after being selected in the 20th round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Martin was Carolina’s leading hitter last year batting .336 (82-for-244) with 35 runs scored, 11 doubles, five homers and 38 RBI, a .389 on-base percentage and a .443 slugging percentage. He started all 62 games at first base.
Martin averaged 1.32 hits per game last year, tied for highest among SEC returning leaders. His .336 average is second-highest among returning SEC players as well.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
Junior left-hander Jack Wynkoop returns to the weekend rotation for a third straight year. He has made 27 starts in his career, which is second-highest among all returning SEC pitchers. Wynkoop went 7-6 last year with a 2.86 ERA in 88.0 innings. Wynkoop won 14 games in his first two years with the Garnet & Black. His five pickoffs are second-highest among returning SEC players as well.
CAREER STARTS AMONG SEC PITCHERS RETURNING
Sam Smith (Ole Miss) – 35
Jack Wynkoop (S. Carolina) – 27
Walker Buehler (Vanderbilt) – 25
Grayson Long (Texas A&M) – 25
Trevor Fitts (Mississippi State) – 22
Tyler Ferguson (Vanderbilt) – 19
Trey Killian (Arkansas) – 19
Christian Trent (Ole Miss) – 17
Kyle Cody (Kentucky) – 16
Sean McLaughlin (Georgia) – 16
Jared Poche’ (LSU) – 16
Danny Young (Florida) – 16
IN THE CROWE’S NEST
Sophomore right-handed pitcher Wil Crowe is among the top sophomores in the country. Crowe earned Freshman All-America honors last year as he went 8-3 with a 2.75 ERA in 15 starts with 59 strikeouts to 19 walks in 91.2 innings pitched. Opponents hit just .228 against him. He did not allow a stolen base either. Crowe is one of 50 players in the nation to be named to USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List.
MAX IT OUT
Junior infielder Max Schrock is back and 100 percent after an injury-plagued 2014 season. Despite being limited to 35 games and just 14 SEC contests, Schrock hit .299 with five homers, five doubles and 20 RBI. His .472 slugging percentage last year was second-best on the team.
A CLOSER LOOK AT WIDENER
Sophomore right-hander Taylor Widener is coming off a solid freshman campaign. Widener made 21 appearances with a pair of starts, went 3-0 with a 1.79 ERA in 40.1 innings with 15 walks and 38 strikeouts and opponents hitting just .170 against him.
A BRIGHT SPOT
One of five seniors on the squad, Connor Bright is back for one more season with the Gamecocks. Bright saw action in 44 games with 42 starts in right field, but battled back issues in the last half of the season. Despite his injury, he hit .311 (50-for-161) with 24 RBI and 25 runs scored. Bright is expected to start in right field on Opening Day. He has 113 career starts with the Garnet & Black, that is the highest total on the active roster for the Gamecocks.
MINCEY IN THE MIX
Senior right-hander Cody Mincey is coming off a very strong performance out of the bullpen last year. Mincey made a team-high 29 relief appearance in 2014 and went 5-0 with a 1.04 ERA and a save. He allowed just four runs on 20 hits in 34.2 innings with 17 walks and 44 strikeouts, opponents hit .171 against him. Mincey did not allow a run in 25 of 29 relief appearances. Mincey tied for the league lead as well with 16 relief appearances in SEC games.
MOONEY IN THE MIDDLE
Junior infielder Marcus Mooney is back and will factor in the middle infield positions. Mooney played 58 games with 57 starts in 2014. He hit .274 (59-for-215) with 32 runs scored, 10 doubles, a triple and 22 RBI, also a .380 on-base percentage.
CONE LEADS IT OFF
Sophomore outfielder Gene Cone is coming off a solid summer that saw him earn Coastal Plain League Hitter of the Year, as voted on by the CPL head coaches. Cone hit a league-best .385 (62-for-161) for the Florence RedWolves during the regular season in 43 starts with 18 doubles, a pair of triples, 25 RBI and 40 runs scored. An All-Star selection as well during the summer season, Cone collected a .468 on-base percentage with 26 walks to 17 strikeouts. Cone continued to swing a hot bat during the playoffs to help lead the RedWolves to the CPL Petit Cup Championship Series. He hit .314 in eight playoff games.
Cone came on late for the Gamecocks and made 30 starts last season as a freshman and finished with a .371 on-base percentage. He scored 22 runs and made just one error in the outfield.
GORE IN A GROOVE
Sophomore infielder Jordan Gore also had a productive summer that saw him earn All-Star honors with the RedWolves. Gore started 41 games and hit .262 (37-for-141) with 17 runs and 22 RBI.
Last season, Gore made 14 starts and had a pair of homers including a walk-off vs. Tennessee in the bottom of the 14th inning in a 3-2 win over the Volunteers.
REAGAN ON THE LEFT
Sophomore left-hander Josh Reagan was productive in his first campaign with the Garnet & Black last year as he went 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA in 25.1 innings with 21 strikeouts to four walks in 14 appearances. He did not allow a run in 11 of 14 appearances last year.
Sophomore right-hander Reed Scott was one of the top relievers for the Gamecocks last season. He was 2-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 41.2 innings, allowed 11 runs, nine earned, on 34 hits with eight walks and 31 strikeouts. He did not allow a run in nine of 14 appearances last year.
Junior left-hander Vince Fiori is one of the most experienced arms on the team. In 2014, Fiori made 17 relief appearances and went 1-0 with a 1.37 ERA in 19.2 innings, allowed five runs, three earned, on 14 hits with 10 walks and 18 strikeouts, opponents hit .197 against him.
AND THEN THERE WAS ONE
South Carolina senior outfielder Patrick Harrington is the last remaining active Gamecock player that was a member of the 2011 national championship team.
Harrington saw action in 26 games last year with 16 starts and compiled a .319 on=base percentage with five runs scored and nine RBI.
Freshman utility player Alex Destino earned third-team Preseason All-America honors from Baseball America as announced on Monday morning.
In his first season with the Gamecock program, Destino is expected to contribute both as a hitter and a pitcher. Destino is left-handed, was rated the No. 53 best high school prospect in the nation last year by Perfect Game and earned HS All-America honors from both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball. As a senior in high school in 2014, he went 10-1 with a 1.43 ERA in 73.1 innings with 116 strikeouts and hit .529 with 15 homers and 43 RBI. He also played on the 2013 USA Baseball 18U National Team that won a gold medal at the 2013 IBAF `AAA’/18U World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan.
Baseball America surveys scouting directors and national crosscheckers to vote on the Preseason College All-America team.
Junior infielder DC Arendas returns and is expected to start at third base on Opening Day. Arendas hit .271 last year in 55 games with 50 starts and finished with a 0.373 on-base percentage as well. He drove in 29 runs and scored 32 last year with six doubles and four homers.
Under the direction of associate head coach Jerry Meyers, the Gamecocks are coming off one of the most impressive seasons on the mound in school history.
The 2014 Gamecocks led the SEC with a 2.43 earned run average that ranked ninth in the nation. That ERA is the best by a Gamecock pitching staff in the last 39 seasons. The pitching staff was among the best in the country with 13 shutouts, fifth-highest in the nation, a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.03, sixth-best in the country and a 1.12 WHIP that was eighth overall.
Gamecock pitchers that garnered attention last year included junior left-hander Jordan Montgomery, who was a fourth-round selection in the 2014 MLB Draft by the New York Yankees. Montgomery compiled an 8-5 record and a 3.42 ERA in a team-high 100 innings with 95 strikeouts and became the 22nd pitcher in school history to reach the 20-win total as well. Junior right-hander Joel Seddon also was selected in the 11th round by the Oakland A’s after earning second-team All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association with 14 saves. He was a second-team All-SEC choice as well.
BEHIND THE PLATE The catching corps will have a new look this year after Grayson Greiner was a third round selection in the 2014 MLB Draft by the Detroit Tigers.
Among the players expected to step in for Greiner, includes sophomore Logan Koch and freshman Hunter Taylor. Koch played in 20 games last year with Taylor coming of a HS All-America season at Nandua HS in Onley, Va.
South Carolina baseball’s recruiting class was ranked as high No. 5 in the nation as announced by Baseball America. It is the second consecutive year the Gamecocks have brought in a Top 5 class as last year’s group was ranked No. 3 in the country by Baseball America.
STUDENT ASSISTANT COACHES
Two former Gamecocks will serve as student assistant coaches this year. Former infielder Scott Wingo (2008-11) and former catcher Justin Dalles (2009) have returned to campus to complete their degree requirements and are serving on the staff this year.
Dalles spent three seasons in the Baltimore Orioles organization, one year with the Philadelphia Phillies and last year in the Independent League. Dalles lettered in 2009 and earned second-team All-SEC honors on the way to being a sixth round MLB draft choice by the Orioles. Dalles hit .324 with 15 homers and 47 RBI to help lead the Gamecocks to a NCAA regional appearance.
Wingo spent the past three seasons in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Wingo was a four-year letterwinner at South Carolina from 2008-11 and played on both national championship teams in 2010 and 2011. Wingo served as captain his senior year in 2011, earned first-team All-SEC honors and was the Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series. He was also a two-time SEC All-Defensive team selection. Wingo played in 254 career games with the Garnet & Black, the second highest total in school history.
THIS IS SOUTH CAROLINA BASEBALL
South Carolina earned its 15th straight trip to the NCAA Regional as the 2014 team finished 44-18 and finished ranked as high as No. 22 by the USA Today coaches’ poll. South Carolina went 18-12 in the SEC and is one of only two schools in the conference to finish among the top four teams in the league in both 2013 and 2014 and one of four schools in the SEC to win at least 40 games in both 2013 and 2014. South Carolina is also one of only nine schools in the nation to host a NCAA Regional in 2013 and 2014.
South Carolina won the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in 2010 and 2011 at the College World Series. South Carolina has 11 College World Series appearances, including six in the last 13 years. The Gamecocks own the second-highest win total in the nation in the last 15 years (2000 to the present) with a 713-289 record. South Carolina is one of five schools to appear in the NCAA Regional every season in the last 15 years, including 11 NCAA Super Regional appearances in that span, one of only two schools to accomplish the feat.
HOME SWEET HOME
South Carolina went 34-7 in 2014 in home games. Since the opening of Carolina Stadium, the Gamecocks are 189-39 for a .829 winning percentage, the best winning percentage at home among the 14 SEC schools.
In 2014, South Carolina hosted a NCAA Regional for the fifth-straight year marking the Gamecocks as one of only two schools in the nation to claim that distinction. Gamecock Nation flocked to Carolina Stadium as South Carolina set a total attendance record at 305,564 in 2014, the first time South Carolina eclipsed the 300,000-plus mark.
Expectations never change at South Carolina and they will be no different as the Gamecocks enter the 2015 season. Six position starters are back from last year’s team, the pitching staff returns 29 of the team’s 44 wins last year as well as more than 64 percent of innings and the Gamecocks bring in a recruiting class that was ranked No. 5 in the nation by Baseball America. Entering spring practice, head coach Chad Holbrook is optimistic.
“This team has taken on its own identity,” stated head coach Chad Holbrook. “It has a new crop of leaders; it has some familiar players, but an awful lot of new faces too. I think they have worked extremely hard, starting with Kyle Martin and Connor Bright, the senior leaders of our team. I think that they have pushed the other guys in the weight room and on the practice field to ensure that we put ourselves in a really good spot.”
The 56-game schedule is challenging and each week will present its own test. Holbrook and the players know how difficult the slate can be including the 30-game SEC schedule and will take it one game at a time and step by step.
“You have to do that in the SEC,” said Holbrook. “You are going to have some very high moments and some low ones, because of the competition you face, it is one pitch at a time. You can’t get to far ahead of yourself in this league or you will find yourself in a not so friendly position. It is a marathon; it’s not a sprint. You have to hopefully get off to a good start and play well, but you want to be playing your best baseball late in the year.”
ON THE FIELD
A talented group of infielders features a mix of veterans and newcomers, who will compete day in and day out. “I think the strength of our team right now is defensively,” noted Holbrook. “We are deep and talented with the infield. I love the way our infielders have played. We have some guys that really understand how to play from a defensive standpoint.”
Senior first baseman Kyle Martin elected to return to school after being drafted by the Angels last June. Martin started all 62 games last year and led the team in hitting with a .336 average along with five homers and 38 RBI. Junior second baseman Max Schrock returns after an injury-riddled sophomore campaign that limited his play in the second half of the season. The team’s top two hitters, both Martin and Schrock are expected to hit in the middle of the lineup.
Junior infielders Marcus Mooney and DC Arendas both started 50 or more games last year and return. On-base percentages for both players last year were solid with Mooney at .380 and Arendas with a .373 mark. Both players can play second or short with Arendas seeing a lot of action this past fall at third base.
Sophomore infielder Jordan Gore had a productive summer in the Coastal Plain League with Florence and was impressive in fall scrimmages. The switch-hitter can play second, short or third base and could play a corner outfield spot. Freshman infielder Madison Stokes will also see action. Stokes spurned the MLB Draft and elected to go to school. He can play anywhere in the field.
“I have more than three good infielders, I’ve got five and you can only play three at a time when you don’t count the first baseman,” said Holbrook. “Kyle Martin is kind of solidified at first and Max Schrock has had some great moments at second. Jordan Gore is terrific, Marcus Mooney is terrific from a middle infielder standpoint, DC Arendas is very fundamentally sound. We are going to have to move some guys around and those infielders are going to have to be versatile if they want to play consistently. The other good thing about it is we can match up both right and left. We do have some versatility both offensively and defensively and it mainly starts with our infield group.”
Power and speed is featured in the outfield. Sophomore Gene Cone was Coastal Plain League Hitter of the Year last summer at Florence and he has raised his game after coming on late for the Gamecocks in his freshman campaign. Cone figures to get the nod at center field and be near the top of the lineup on Opening Day. Senior Connor Bright returns to right field. Bright missed some time last year but hit .311 (50-for-161) in 42 starts. Seniors Elliott Caldwell and Patrick Harrington are competing for a chance in left field. Both players had productive falls and give the Gamecocks a strong right-handed bat near the middle of the order. Freshmen Clark Scolamiero and Jared Williams opened eyes in the fall scrimmages.
“We will have a few new faces in the outfield with Gene Cone being right now the starting center fielder and some other guys still competing for the corner outfield spots,” said Holbrook. “All in all if baseball is judged upon how good defensively you are up the middle, I certainly think we are very gifted in the middle infield and we are very gifted in the outfield, the way Gene Cone plays defense and Clark Scolamiero as well.
The Gamecocks will have to replace All-America catcher Grayson Greiner, who was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 3rd round of the MLB Draft. Sophomore switch-hitter Logan Koch saw action in 20 games last year and has elevated himself both offensively and defensively. Freshman standout Hunter Taylor and junior college transfers Thatcher Coleman and Jared Martin are competing with Koch.
“We feel good about our catching situation even though Grayson Greiner is not back there,” noted Holbrook.
A slew of players could find their way into the designated hitter spot. Alex Destino may be the leading candidate. The left-handed hitting freshman had a good fall and has shown signs that he could hit in the middle of the lineup.
“Destino is a very impressive young hitter,” said Holbrook. As I sit here (before spring practice), it will be tough for me to take him out of the lineup.”
Destino also pitches and could see time on the mound. Sophomore two-way player Taylor Widener and junior college transfer Collin Steagall have plus power from the left-handed side and will compete for at bats. Matt Williams also brings a solid left-handed bat with Weber Pike as competitive as anyone from the right side.
ON THE MOUND
Sophomore right-hander Wil Crowe and junior left-hander Jack Wynkoop highlight a pitching staff that is coming off a team ERA of 2.43 in 2014. Crowe and Wynkoop appear set to return to the rotation after the duo combined for 18 victories a year ago.
Crowe, a Freshman All-America selection last year, went 8-3 with a 2.75 ERA including a complete game shutout vs. Campbell in his final start of the year in the NCAA Regional and a win over eventual NCAA champion Vanderbilt in the rubber game of the final SEC series of the year. Wynkoop won seven games with a 2.86 ERA in 88.0 innings.
“It is very comforting to have Wil Crowe and Jack Wynkoop lead the weekend off for us,” said Holbrook. “Those two guys are showing me that they can beat anybody. Out of those two, you’re going to get guys that throw strikes, hold runners, command their off speed pitches and they’re not going to beat themselves.”
The third weekend spot is still to be determined. With a bevy of arms available, competition will continue into the spring to see who may fit best in that role. Coach Holbrook was quick to note that the third starter role may not be set in stone, even after the first couple of weeks.
Sophomore Taylor Widener could fit into a weekend starter spot, but the power right-hander could also be used in the back of the bullpen in a possible closer role. Widener went 3-0 as a freshman with a 1.79 ERA in 21 appearances with 38 strikeouts in 40.1 innings and opponents hitting just .170 against him, the lowest average by an opponent against a Gamecock pitcher last year.
“As a coaching staff, we are going to have to make decisions that will certainly impact the success we have initially,” stated Holbrook. “Taylor Widener, is he going to be the closer? Or is he going to be one of our weekend starters? Those are important decisions we need to make before Opening Day and that might ultimately determine what type of start we get off to.”
Junior left-hander Vince Fiori and sophomore southpaw Josh Reagan are returning pitchers that may be an option to start. Sophomore right-hander Reed Scott is an option also. All three primarily saw action in the bullpen last year and all were effective. Reagan was 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA in 25.1 innings, Fiori had a 1.37 ERA in 17 appearances and Scott went 2-0 with a 1.94 ERA and pitched 41.2 innings as well.
“I like the depth of our pitching staff and the talent of our pitching staff,” said Holbrook. “Some of our roles haven’t been defined, but I don’t think it is because of a lack of talent or lack of arm strength. We are going to ask some guys to take on some roles that they didn’t take on last year.”
Senior right-hander Cody Mincey figures to have a role at the end of a game. Last season, Mincey primarily served as the setup man to closer Joel Seddon. Mincey was as effective as any Gamecock pitcher going 5-0 with a 1.04 ERA in 29 relief appearances and a save. He allowed just four runs on 20 hits in 34.2 innings with 44 strikeouts and opponents hitting .171 against him.
Sophomore right-hander Matthew Vogel has a dynamic arm. The Gamecocks are excited to have redshirt freshman right-hander Canaan Cropper returning after missing last year due to injury. Sophomore left-hander John Parke has year under his belt and has shown positive signs. Redshirt freshman right-hander Tyler Haswell and junior right-hander Preston Johnson are in the mix for innings.
Newcomers Brandon Murray and Clarke Schmidt possess gifted arms. Both right-handers figure to see significant innings in their first seasons donning the Garnet & Black. Freshman right-hander Tyler Johnson pitched quality outings in his first fall with the program.
“We have to make sure we put the right guys in the right spots,” said Holbrook. “Lucky for us, those kids that we are talking about are talented kids and we are going to ask them to pitch in important roles and play in important roles. While it might be new to them, based on what we did from a year ago we feel good about their makeup and we feel good about their talent.”
PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES
Head Coach Chad Holbrook
“We’re very excited about opening up the season against a great College of Charleston team. It’s an exciting time for our players, our coaches, our staff, our fans and everybody associated with our program. The new season is upon us and we’re kicking it off against a great opponent here at home and it makes for an exciting time around the baseball office. Our kids have had a good preseason and have worked very hard, they’ve had good practices and good scrimmages, and I think they’re ready to play someone else. They’ve been going at it pretty hard since September, and it’s time to play another team. Our work’s going to be cut out for us with playing the College of Charleston. We have the upmost respect for them and their guys, advancing to a Super Regional a year ago. Our players know and understand that we have a huge challenge in front of us. That being said, I think that challenge creates some excitement, and our players are ready to get things going and are excited to get things going tomorrow here at Carolina Stadium.”
On questions about the outfield
“I hate to not give you much of an answer, but I don’t really know. I’m evaluating things as we go, I’ll evaluate practice today. Coach Tanner from time to time used to have a tryout between two players when he didn’t know who to play. I remember one day we had two catchers going at it in BP and whoever won in BP started the next game. I’m not going do that, but that being said, I feel comfortable with a number of guys. Marcus Mooney has been a little banged up. He’s got a little bit of a hamstring issue and with the cool temperatures, I have to make sure this thing doesn’t linger. I plan on playing Marcus this weekend, but I don’t know how much. We’ll see how he’s doing today, but that will effect the left field situation. I think Jordan Gore deserves to be in there tomorrow, he’s had a great fall, he’s played with emotion, energy and enthusiasm, as have other guys, but Jordan since August has really stood out. What I do with Jordan is going to depend on how Marcus’ health is. If Marcus can’t go tomorrow, or I feel we should take it easy on him, I’ll put Jordan at short and that’ll open up left for some guys. Patrick Harrington, Elliott Caldwell, Jordan Gore, those guys I feel pretty good about putting either of the three of them out in left. There’s also another two players I could put out there as well. I’ll think about it more today, but I think a lot of it depends on how Marcus feels tomorrow.”
On team skill as a whole
“It’s tough to gauge your team where you are today based on playing against each other. I’m sure the College of Charleston is going to give us a good gauge of where we are over the course of the weekend. Again, we have challenges in front of us, and we’ve got some guys in some new role. It’s going to be interesting for me to see how our guys adjust to these new roles. I.E. Taylor Widener getting the last 3 outs of a game, hopefully he’s in that position. Jack Wynkoop getting the ball on Friday, that’s a new experience for him, we have some position players in some new spots too. Gene Cone is going to have a little bit more responsibility not just defensively but where he is in the lineup. We have a lot of questions to answer, but with the quality opponent we’re facing, I think we’ll have some of our questions answered by the end of the weekend. And if we play well, I might be able to tell you we’re in mid-season form, but it’s early, and we have to remember it’s February and you can’t get to Omaha in February.”