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OPENING WEEKEND LED BY CATS-DOGS SHOWDOWN
February 22, 2008

SCS.comItís the time of year all college baseball fans have been waiting for, opening weekend. For the avid college baseball fan, the time between Omaha and the next season always seems like an eternity, however, this year has been an even longer layoff due to new NCAA start dates. This rule comes along with many new rules that are changing NCAA baseball through the next few years as we transition into the new age of the sport. If this year's opening weekend matchups are any indication, we are in store for a season full of great games and intriguing matchups.

SERIES OF THE WEEKEND

Arizona at Georgia

In this matchup, Georgia is led by preseason All-American shortstop Gordon Beckham who hit .307 in 2007. Georgia will also enjoy the luxury of preseason third team All-American closer Joshua Fields, who will likely serve as designated hitter for the Bulldogs. Georgia comes in ranked 24 in the country by Baseball America, as they welcome back three sophomores and one senior along with Michael Dempierio, a transfer from Texas, and Adam Fuller from Andrews Junior College. The last time the Bulldogs faced off against a number one team was against Vanderbilt last year when the Commodores took 2 out of 3 in Athens.

Arizona, who comes in as the favorite, is preseason number 2 as voted on by the SCS.com staff. The Wildcat lineup runs through preseason All American C.J. Ziegler who hit .355 last season with 13 home runs. Second baseman Colt Sedbrook is an early-lineup catalyst who hasnít missed a game in two years for Arizona. Also look for some production out of preseason third teamer T.J. Steele. The most impressive thing about Arizona is their pitching staff and bullpen. UA hosts a staff the boasts three preseason All-Americans led by 2007 Pac-10 pitcher of the year Preston Guilmet. This gives the Wildcats a distinct advantage in this matchup.

The probable pitching matchups for this weekend are:
Friday: RHP Preston Guilmet (AZ) vs. RHP Trevor Holder (UGA)
Saturday: LHP David Coulon (AZ) vs. RHP Stephen Dodson (UGA)
Sunday: RHP Ryan Perry (AZ) vs. LHP Nathan Moreau (UGA)

Bottom Line:
Friday - Arizona
Saturday - Georgia
Sunday - Arizona

OTHER SERIES TO WATCH

Demarini invitational at Arizona State
Teams include Arizona State, Oregon State, Vanderbilt, and Miami (OH)

This really should be a great showcase for these four great programs. All games will be held at Packard Stadium on the beautiful campus of Arizona State. The invitational boasts first team All-American Pedro Alvarez of Vanderbilt, second teamers Petey Paramore, Ike Davis and Brett Wallace from Arizona State, along with fellow second teamer Dominic De La Osa and third team shortstop Ryan Flaherty of Vandy. Arizona State enters the season ranked number one in the country by SCS.com, while Vanderbilt and Oregon State ranked 8 and 15, respectively.

South Carolina at East Carolina

This sister state rivalry continues to heat up year after year with recruiting battles and transfer wars. The Gamecocks come in as the number 3 ranked team in the country. South Carolina has solidified itself as a perennial top 25 team and looks to get out of the super regional this season, as they were beaten in the third game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill last spring. East Carolina comes in ranked number 24 by Baseball America. The Pirates continue to fight for spots in the top 25 year after year. South Carolina will look to get solid play out of James Darnell and Justin Smoak, both preseason All-Americans.

A few to keep your eye on:

Southern California at Florida International
Rice at Long Beach State
Cal State Fullerton at Texas Christian
UCLA at Oklahoma
North Carolina at Florida Atlantic

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