Gamecocks ranked No. 7; Tigers 26th, Chants 38th

South Carolina is ranked No. 7 in the nation in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Top 40 as announced on Thursday afternoon. Clemson and Coastal Carolina finished out of the top 25 but were ranked 26th and 38th, respectively.

South Carolina is one of 10 SEC schools to be ranked in the preseason poll. Also ranked is Arkansas (No. 1), Vanderbilt (No. 3), LSU (No. 4), Kentucky (No. 8), Mississippi State (No. 13), Florida (No. 24), Ole Miss (No. 25), Texas A&M (No. 26) and Georgia (No. 28).

The Gamecocks return six position starters, 13 pitchers and 25 letterwinners from last year’s National Runners-Up squad. Among the returning players include senor left-handed pitcher Tyler Webb (6-1, 1.56 ERA), who garnered second-team Preseason All-America honors earlier in the month from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

Sophomore catcher Grayson Greiner (.222-6-32) and sophomore left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery (6-1, 3.62 ERA) return as well after earning Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball last year.

Sophomore shortstop Joey Pankake (.264-2-27) and sophomore outfielder Tanner English (.298-0-23), a St. James product, also return after earning SEC All-Freshman Team accolades in 2012. Position starters also returning include senior infielder LB Dantzler (.262-10-48), junior infielder Erik Payne (.265-3-19) and senior infielder Chase Vergason (.258-1-13).

Also back from the starting rotation last year is senior right-hander Colby Holmes (7-2, 3.05 ERA) from Conway. Veteran southpaws Nolan Belcher (4-2, 2.12 ERA) and Adam Westmoreland (2-1, 2.86 ERA), as well as senior right-hander Patrick Sullivan (0-0, 3.52 ERA), junior right-hander Forrest Koumas (2-3, 4.82 ERA) and sophomore righties Evan Beal (4-4, 3.81 ERA) and Joel Seddon (2-0, 2.76 ERA), all started at least one game as well last year.

The Gamecocks begin the 2013 season on Friday, Feb. 15 hosting a three-game series vs. Liberty at Carolina Stadium.

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