Gamecocks open Holbrook era with plenty to prove

South Carolina will open the 2013 season and the Chad Holbrook coaching era Friday beginning a three-game series with Liberty at Carolina Stadium.

The Gamecocks will honor Ray Tanner on Opening Day as several pre-game festivities are planned at Carolina Stadium before the South Carolina and Liberty baseball game on Friday. Ceremonies are planned to begin at 2:35 p.m. First pitch will officially start at 3:07 p.m.

Tanner served as head coach of the baseball program for 16 seasons from 1997-2012. leading South Carolina to back-to-back NCAA Division I Baseball Championships in 2010 and 2011 as well as a pair of national runner-up finishes, six College World Series appearances, three SEC championships, six SEC Eastern division titles, a SEC tournament crown. He went to 10 NCAA Super Regionals in 14 NCAA Tournament appearances as well.

The Gamecocks won the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship in 2010 and 2011 with a national runner-up finish in 2012. South Carolina’s 30-4 (.882) record from 2010-2012 in the NCAA Tournament is the fifth best three-year postseason record in NCAA history. Tanner went 738-316, his winning percentage for the Gamecocks was .700, the second highest winning percentage for a coach in Southeastern Conference history.

As for this year’s team, the Gamecocks have something to prove under their new coach. South Carolina was selected to finish in a tie for third place in the Eastern Division in the 2013 SEC Preseason Coaches’ Poll that was released on Tuesday.

Both the Gamecocks and Kentucky shared a tie for third place in the poll. The Gamecocks won the SEC East in 2012 and tied for first place and the SEC championship in 2011. Carolina has finished in the top three places of the SEC Eastern Division 16 of 21 seasons since joining the league.

A pair of Grand Strand products look to have big seasons for South Carolina. Conway High product Colby Holmes will get the start Saturday to open his senior season against the Flames and St. James High outfielder Tanner English will move to centerfield after starting primarily in leftfield as a freshman.

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