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Coach Holbrook's Fall Practice Press Conference

Coach Holbrook talks about the upcoming season as the baseball team begins fall practice

On coaches and players being ready to get back:

It's exciting to get started. Obviously, with the way our season ended last year it's been a long offseason, but it's been very encouraging at the same time. A lot of our kids have worked extremely hard both in the summer leagues and in rehab or therapy if they were injured. They've had a great three weeks here in individual workouts and had a great month or so in the weight room. The kids are anxious to get on the field and our coaches are anxious to get on the field...We have some new players, we have some talented players and I think we have the makings of a really good team. The fall is going to be very important to our players, to our coaches and I think it will set the tone for how we'll play this spring.

On Max Schrock:

Max Schrock was chomping at the bit to get back here. The kid was hurt the whole year last year...he wants to be a leader for this team. Max worked his rear end off. He's lost twenty pounds...He was very particular about what he ate, his rehab, work in the weight room. He wanted to be a little more agile.

On what position battles he's interested in seeing play out:

Who's going to play third, who's going to catch, who's going to be that third weekend starter. And who's going to be our closer?

On the new baseball with flatter seams:

I think it's gonna make a difference. I don't know how much...The ball is coming off the bat with a little bit more life. You can notice the ball carry a little more, well, a lot more actually.  I think it's a good start for college baseball. Our pitchers will love throwing the ball. You'll see a little bit more velocity on some of the pitches...This ball is much more comfortable for them to throw. But I do think at the end of the day it is going to help offensive numbers, power numbers, extra base hit numbers. And hopefully that'll increase some of the scoring we've seen lacking in the last couple of years.

On former Gamecocks in the pros:

Coach Tanner always told me that if Steve Pearce ever gets a chance to hit on an everyday basis, that he'll stay in the majors a long time. He [Coach Tanner] felt that Steve was one of the best hitters he ever coached; he talked about Steve all the time. It's really great to see the Orioles give him a chance to play every day....The neat thing about this summer for us is some of our former players have done really well. We've had nine former players in the major league this season, which says a lot about our program and the players we've had come through here. It was neat communicating with Christian [Walker] yesterday on his way to Baltimore. He got a hit yesterday then had the pie thrown in his face and it's just really good for our program. We're extremely proud of them [our former players]. Whit Merrifield, who we went and saw Tuesday night, he's right there on the brink of being in the major league as well...We had nine guys in major league and there are a few knocking at the door. It's been a great summer for our former players and that's been one thing that's made me smile a little bit this summer.

On expectations for the South Carolina baseball program:

It's always very difficult to get to where we want to go, its not easy to get to the College World Series, you have to beat some awfully good teams. I said when I took this job three years ago, I embrace the expectations that this program has and I think our players do as well. You don't come to South Carolina, to either coach or play, to not be expected to compete for championships or get close to going to the College World Series. We've had a great run. I certainly understand that you can't go to Omaha every year but we're going to try. It was disappointing for us, for our players, coaches and fans the way last season ended. We have a team that is talented enough this year to get back there [to the College World Series] and a team that's talented enough to compete for championships. We're also going to be competing against teams that are as talented as us and that's what makes playing in the SEC so much fun. I can't wrap myself up in thinking Omaha or bust, all I can think about it trying to prepare our team everyday to be the best it can be. Hopefully, come June, we'll be good enough. I do so far like the type of kids and character we have on our team. They work extremely hard and I'm anxious to see them compete against each other this weekend.

The baseball team will officially begin fall practice this weekend and will hold three scrimmages at Carolina Stadium that are open to the public. Friday's scrimmage will be at 4 p.m. and the scrimmages on Saturday and Sunday will both be held at 11:30 a.m.