Carolina Baseball Ranked 10th, Clemson 15th

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — The South Carolina baseball team has been ranked No. 10 in the Baseball America Preseason Top 25 releasedon Wednesday afternoon. The Gamecocks will open the season on Friday, Feb. 19 hosting Duquesne in a three-game series atCarolina Stadium.Carolina is one of six SEC teams to be ranked by Baseball America. LSU ranks No. 3, Florida sits at No. 7, Arkansas is No. 17,Georgia is No. 22 and Ole Miss is No. 24.South Carolina returns several position starters and pitchers from last year’s NCAA Regional team that finished 40-23 overall alongwith a 17-13 mark for a second place finish in the SEC Eastern Division.On the mound, South Carolina junior right-handed pitcher Sam Dyson and senior right-handed pitcher Blake Cooper both tallied ninevictories last season. The nine-win total by each pitcher is the second highest win total from last year returning to the SoutheasternConference for the 2010 season. Along with sophomore left-handed pitcher Nolan Belcher, the Gamecocks return the entire rotationfrom last year’s squad. Belcher earned 2009 SEC All-Freshman team honors. Also on the mound returning is senior right-hander JayBrown, who compiled a 3-0 mark with a 3.35 ERA.At the plate, senior first baseman Nick Ebert recorded 23 home runs last season, only one player in the nation returns to college thathit more home runs last year. Ebert finished with a .321 average, 23 HR and 72 RBI. Junior outfielder Whit Merrifield returns afterbatting .340 (91-for-268) in the 2009 season and spending the summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Chatham Anglers.Merrifield’s 91 hits are the most hits by a returning SEC player from last year. He had 11 homers and 49 RBI as well.Sophomore outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. is back after hitting .349 (89-for-255) in his first collegiate season and was a consensusFreshman All-America selection. Bradley also tallied 11 homers and 46 RBI. He played this summer for the Hyannis Mets of theCape Cod Baseball League.Senior shortstop Bobby Haney returns to the middle infield after starting all 63 games at shortstop last year. Haney earned second-team All-SEC honors and was a 2009 SEC All-Defensive team choice. He hit .291 (66-for-227) with four HR and 30 RBI.Junior utility player Parker Bangs also is back to help the Gamecocks on the mound and at the plate. Bangs hit .328 (39-for-119) with12 doubles, five HR and 36 RBI. Bangs struck out 39 batters in 33.2 innings pitched in 15 appearances.Two South Carolina newcomers earned HS All-America honors. Right-hander Ethan Carter was a 2009 Louisville Slugger HS All-American by Collegiate Baseball and was named to the 2009 All-USA baseball second-team by the USA Today. He was also the2009 Gatorade Virginia Baseball Player of the Year and led Menchville HS to a state championship and a final No. 1 ranking in thenation by Collegiate Baseball and the USA Today. Catcher Brison Celek was a 2009 Louisville Slugger HS All-American byCollegiate Baseball and is a three-time South Carolina AA All-State selection as well. He twice helped lead Bishop England HS tostate championships in 2007 and 2009.Three South Carolina newcomers decided on college instead of pro baseball. Adrian Morales, a junior college infielder out of MiamiDade CC, was a 45th round choice by the Houston Astros, Colby Holmes, a right-handed pitcher from Conway, S.C., was drafted inthe 47th round by the Atlanta Braves and Christian Walker a first baseman/third baseman from Limerick Pa., was a 49th round choiceby the Los Angeles Dodgers. Morales was a second-team 2009 All-Southern Conference recipient in the FCCAA along with a 2008NJCAA All-Gulf District honoree at Miami-Dade CC. Holmes is a two-time South Carolina AAAA All-State team selection and wasrated the No. 5 best high school player in the state of South Carolina by Diamond Prospects. He finished the 2009 season with an 8-3record and a 0.70 ERA with 129 strikeouts in 69.2 innings pitched. Holmes also was rated by Baseball America as the No. 9 best highschool prospect at the 2009 Under Armour Preseason Tournament. Walker hit .588 his senior season and was named to the 2009Philadelphia Inquirer All-S.E. Pennsylvania team. He also won the 2009 International Power Showcase High School Home RunDerby at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Fla. and was rated the No. 1 best high school player in the state of Pennsylvania by PGCrosschecker.Several newcomers have also earned high honors includingRobert Beary C/UT-Pensacola JC (Fla.) 2008 Panhandle Conference Player of the Year.426, 16 HR, 76 RBI as a freshman/.387 as sophomoreGreg Harrison RHP-Hilton Head HS (S.C.) 2008 & 2009 South Carolina AAA All-State team10-1 record senior season, 1.53 ERAAnthony Iaocomini 2B/SS-John Hay HS (N.Y.) 2008 New York Sportswriters Association All-StateHit .433 as a senior in high schoolEvan Marzilli OF-Bishop Hendricken (R.I.) Rated No. 1 player in Rhode Island by PG CrosscheckerJose Mata RHP-Broward CC (Fla.) 2009 All-Southern Conference Fireman of the Year45 innings, 1.20 ERA, seven saves as a sophomoreJimmy Revan LHP-Spartanburg Methodist JC (S.C.) 2009 Region 10 Second-Team Honors10-3 in 2009 season, struck out 85 in 72.2 innings as freshmanTyler Webb LHP-Northampton HS (Va.) Rated No. 6 player in Virginia by PG Crosschecker,rated among the top 20 players in the nation in 2008 before arm surgerySouth Carolina owns the longest current streak of NCAA Regional appearances among the 12 SEC schools with 10 straight trips to thetournament dating back to the 2000 season. In that span, Carolina has seven NCAA Super Regional appearances (2000, 2001, 2002,2003, 2004, 2006, 2007) and three trips to the College World Series (2002, 2003, 2004). South Carolina is one of only seven schoolsin the nation to make at least seven NCAA Super Regionals in the last 10 years and one of only eight schools in the country to havereached the NCAA Regionals every season in this decade. The program’s 10-year total record of 468-201 is the fourth highest wintotal among NCAA Division I schools.South Carolina head coach Ray Tanner is entering his 14th season at the helm with the Gamecocks and his 23rd year as a collegiatehead coach. Tanner’s career record is 975-439-3 (.689) with a 580-266 (.686) mark at South Carolina. The .686 winning percentage isthird highest in SEC history.Baseball America Preseason Top 25Team 2009 Record Final 2009 Ranking1. Texas 50-16 22. Virginia 49-15 53. Louisiana State 56-17 14. Cal State Fullerton 47-16 45. Rice 43-18 86. Georgia Tech 38-19 207. Florida 42-22 128. UC Irvine 45-15 109. Florida State 45-18 910. South Carolina 40-23 2511. Texas Christian 40-18 1412. Coastal Carolina 47-13 NR13. Louisville 47-18 1514. Arizona State 51-13 315. Clemson 44-29 1616. Miami 38-22 NR17. Arkansas 41-24 718. East Carolina 46-20 1719. San Diego 29-25 NR20. North Carolina 48-18 621. Southern Mississippi 40-26 1122. Georgia 38-22 NR23. UCLA 27-29 NR24. Mississippi 44-20 1325. Oregon State