Baseball opens up against #1 Arizona

ATHENS - The 2008 University of Georgia Bulldog baseball team will open the season at Foley Field against top-ranked Arizona on Feb. 22. The teams haven't met since the 2004 College World Series when the Bulldogs eliminated the Wildcats.

Arizona has been ranked No. 1 in "Collegiate Baseball" newspaper's "Fabulous 40" pre-season NCAA Division I baseball poll, the publication announced Friday. Meanwhile, Georgia did not crack the newspaper's top 40.

Under the leadership of head coach David Perno, Georgia annually plays one of the nation's toughest schedules. In 2008, Georgia's non-conference opponents include #1 Arizona, and road dates against #12 Florida State, #13 Clemson, #19 Oregon State and #25 Georgia Tech. Also, Georgia will face SEC rivals in #2 South Carolina, #4 Ole Miss, #11 Vanderbilt, #20 Kentucky, #27 Miss. State and #30 LSU.

The 2008 Bulldogs feature 20 returning lettermen including junior shortstop Gordon Beckham (.307, 13 HR, 51 RBI) and senior pitcher Joshua Fields (1-6, 4.46 ERA, 7 Saves). They are among the top 30 college prospects for the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft according to Baseball America. Also, Georgia welcomes back its entire 2007 starting rotation in juniors Trevor Holder (2-3, 4.50 ERA), Stephen Dodson (4-6, 3.56 ERA) and Nathan Moreau (6-2, 4.65 ERA).

The Wildcats have one of their strongest teams returning including nine position player starters along with seven pitchers from a team which finished second in the Pac-10 Conference a year ago. The Wildcats rotation is anchored by 2007 Pac-10 Pitcher of The Year Preston Guilmet (12-2, 1.87 ERA, 146 strikeouts). Offensively, they are led by first baseman C.J. Ziegler (.355, 13 HR, 23 2B, 63 RBI).

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